“Why shouldn’t a person who lives within the boundaries of one ward attend meetings regularly in another ward?” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 22
Glenn E. Nielson, Regional Representative. The Church is divided into geographical areas for a wise purpose. For one thing, it promotes a sense of community whereby individuals can recognize each other as neighbors and friends and care for each other as such. For another, it enables the Church to do its work in a unified, organized way. Indeed, much of the strength of the Church comes from the simple but effective way it is organized into wards and stakes, branches and districts.
Years of experience at the ward, stake, mission, and now regional level convince me that the revelation given to the Church in Doctrine and Covenants 132:8 is indeed of divine origin: “Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” This scripture provides a firm foundation for all administrative aspects of the Church.
Consider the ward organization. The office of a bishop is to look after the welfare of all members living within the designated borders of his ward. Can you imagine how difficult a bishop’s job would be if geographical boundaries were not observed? Think of the problems in communication and ward organization!
The bishop whose ward a family should be attending would be unable to consider any members of this family for positions of activity if the family members were going other than where they lived. At the same time, the bishop in whose ward they had elected to attend would naturally have some hesitation about using them in positions of leadership. The change would also require extra travel for home teachers, visiting teachers, and others who would normally visit them.
And think of the effect on the family. Since they would not be associating at church with people with whom they associate during the week, they would have a difficult time feeling part of any other ward. Not only would their social lives be affected by the change, but their spiritual lives as well.
Having said all this, let me say that there are circumstances that allow a person living in the boundaries of one ward to attend another ward. In some areas, single adult wards have been formed to provide a way for such individuals to associate regularly. There are also wards organized for special language and cultural groups and others with special needs who would find it more socially and spiritually beneficial to associate with one another. (See Ensign, June 1981, p. 44.) But even in these cases, geographical boundaries are established and observed as much as possible.
When divisions of wards and branches are made, stake presidencies seek the help and the guidance of their Father in Heaven and receive it in making those divisions. Whatever ward we find ourselves in physically is the place our Father in Heaven would have us for the benefit of ourselves and others. It is the place where the greatest opportunity for service and development will come to us.
Our Savior’s church is truly a church of order, and if we will live within the orderly framework he has established, he will cause the Church and the gospel to be great blessings to us. “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10.)