It’s commonly held that Utah is the “home” of the Church—which is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s also “home” to one distinctive Stake of Zion where I have had the pleasure of spending the past two years.
What makes it so unique? Let me quote you some statistics our Stake President shared this past weekend at our Stake Conference:
- We have approximately 8,000 members in our stake
- 1,000 of those members are children
- The average age across the adult members in the stake is 27
- The average age of our bishops is 33
- Every 2.3 years, we have (statistically) 100% turnover
I’ve heard it said that my ward in particular has the highest turnover rate of any ward in the world apart from student stakes, which are seasonal with the semester (but notably, I haven’t heard that statistic over the pulpit).
Previously, my ward was a miniature version of the stake, with 800 members, 600 of them active. We recently were split so we could all fit in the chapel on Sundays.
Why is our area so crazy? The answer is pretty pedestrian. Mostly, it’s a zoning issue. Our stake is composed primarily of cheap Townhomes and apartment complexes that allow month-to-month contracts. Generally speaking, most people move in for a year or less while waiting for other housing arrangements to come through.
In fact, that was the story of our Stake President. Eleven years ago. His 2-year plan turned into a 5-year plan after job loss. Then a calling as bishop, followed by a calling as our Stake President, has turned it into an 11-year plan for him. (He’s been here about as long as the houses have in this area and at a venerable 42, he’s about as close as we get to an “elder” in the aged sense of that term).
I mention this because our Stake President’s message for us, after revealing these statistics, is one you might learn from, too: no matter how long you might be somewhere, you can make a difference if you dig in.
Because our stake is so transient, it really highlights the thought trap many of us fall into, thinking, “I can’t make a difference. It’s not worth accepting a calling or going to activities.” But, as my president shared, even a 2-week-long calling of a Primary president laid some important groundwork for the next sister in that calling.
There is a lot of work to do in my crazy stake. All the time. Welcoming new members. Helping them move in. Helping those same new members move out. Fellowshipping in the middle. Doing missionary work for those members we could easily forget in the all the moving in and out.
But I bet there’s lots of work to do in your stake and your ward, too. No matter what you have to give. Even if it’s only for a short while you can give it. We each can make a difference if we lift where we stand.