The First Presidency announced new, unified standards for the creation and adjustment of ward and stake boundaries in a letter sent to ward, stake, and other priesthood leaders on Nov. 30.
As of Jan. 1, 2024, the new policy eliminates differences that previously existed between wards and stakes in the United States or Canada and the rest of the countries where the Church is organized.
“Leaders should use the new minimum requirements outlined in the attached document when considering boundary proposals,” the letter states.
Among the adjustments outlined in the letter, a new requirement is the measurement of “participating adults” and “participating youth.” These are individuals who pay full or partial tithes, hold current temple recommends, have callings in the Church, are new members who are attending sacrament meeting during their first year of membership, or are youth enrolled in seminary.
The new participation measure is meant to “assist leaders in identifying members who participate in a meaningful way and to help evaluate the strength of a boundary proposal,” the letter states.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles posted on social media on Thursday, Nov. 30, and said one of the reasons the Savior organized His Church was to “give us experience in loving others, to learn what being motivated by charity means in practice.”
“There is genius in the organization of local Church units based on geography. We don’t choose a congregation based on who we like or want to be with,” he wrote. “Wards are chosen for us based on a reasonable geographic alignment, and we learn to live with, serve, and love people who might well be different in background, preferences, and opinions.”
The new ward and stake requirements letter does not direct any immediate changes be made to existing boundaries, but it does indicate that proposals that have already been submitted will be held to the new standards on Jan. 1, 2024.
The unified requirements used to create a stake will now include the need for each stake to have 2,000 total members in the stake. Stakes in the US and Canada previously needed to have 3,000 members. Those outside these two countries needed 1,900.
Stakes will need 150 active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders capable of serving in leadership positions. They will also need a total of 500 participating adults.
The new requirements also mean wards will need 250 members and 20 active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders capable of serving in leadership positions. Each will need 100 participating adults, as well.
You can read the full text of the First Presidency’s letter on unit boundaries on Church News here.