The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a global and diverse family of believers united around a shared faith in Jesus Christ. In recent decades, the demographic characteristics of the Church have shifted such that members who are single now constitute more than half of the adult membership.
When this global family gathered virtually for the April 2021 general conference, several Apostles spoke of the need to support, integrate and involve members of the Church who are single.
President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that he and his fellow leaders have prayerfully counseled together about the importance of “hope in Christ” to better understand “how to help all who feel alone or feel they don’t belong. We long to help all who feel this way.”
Of particular concern, President Ballard said, are those who are currently single. The Church is proactively seeking better ways to help and support members who have never married or who have been divorced or widowed. “The Church wants and needs you,” he said. “Yes, we need you! We need your voices, talents, skills, goodness, and righteousness.”
To more fully engage the voices, skills, and talents of members who are single, the Church has recently expanded the number of callings and assignments in which they can participate.
“We want you to know that you are loved—and so very needed in building the kingdom of God,” Elder Quentin L. Cook said when this change was announced. “For this reason, we felt to search carefully for policies and misperceptions that might limit the Church service of single members. What we found was that Church policy already allows for broad service by single adults—and it could be even broader. . . . We hope your leaders know to put you to work—including as counselors in bishoprics, on high councils, and as organization presidents and counselors.”
Recently, the Church produced an infographic to assist leaders as they listen to and seek to understand the experiences of members who are single. The graphic below describes what these members have said about what they need, why they struggle, where they find spiritual strength, and how leaders can help them. For example, connecting with God, having social support, and engaging in relevant experiences are paramount for them. (View the infographic below or view it on Newsroom here.)
Elder Gerrit W. Gong emphasized that one’s “standing before the Lord and in his Church is not a matter of our marital status, but of our becoming faithful and valiant disciples of Jesus Christ. Adults want to be seen as adults and to be responsible and contribute as adults.”
President Ballard assured that God’s promises for exaltation, including the blessing of marriage and to live as families for eternity, are available for everyone who is faithful to their gospel covenants. Although the timing of realizing these blessings is not precisely known, he noted, “Our confidence in these assurances is rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ, by whose grace all things pertaining to mortality are set right.”
President Ballard further said members who are single need to experience the joy of growth as much as any other Latter-day Saint. “Waiting upon the Lord implies continued obedience and spiritual progress,” said President Ballard, himself a widower.
President Ballard also cautioned about the labels we give ourselves and others. No marker, he said, is more important than that of being Christ’s disciple and a member of His Church.
“For many years, we have talked about ‘young single adults,’ ‘single adults’ and ‘adults,’” he said. “Those designations can be administratively helpful at times but can inadvertently change how we perceive others. Is there a way to avoid this human tendency that can separate us from one another? [Church] President [Russell M.] Nelson asked that we refer to ourselves as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That seems to cover all of us, doesn’t it?”
In addition to showing that we are a family of believers, scripture teaches that the Church is also a body. Just as a body has many parts, each with unique purposes, so the Church has many kinds of people. Each is endowed with gifts that bless the whole. Importantly, as the Apostle Paul said in the Bible, if one part of the body is in pain, “all the members suffer with it.” And if another part of the body is honored, “all the members rejoice with it.”
Whether married or single, widowed or divorced, all in the Church belong to the body of Christ.