Handbooks and Callings
37. Specialized Stakes, Wards, and Branches
Footnotes
Theme

“37. Specialized Stakes, Wards, and Branches,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).

“37. Specialized Stakes, Wards, and Branches,” General Handbook.

Social Interaction

37.

Specialized Stakes, Wards, and Branches

37.0

Introduction

A stake president may propose creating specialized stakes, wards, and branches to serve members as outlined in this chapter. For information about creating specialized units in a mission, see 36.3.

A stake president starts a new proposal at Boundary and Leadership Proposals. If he cannot use the online system, he can download paper forms by clicking on the link. Only the First Presidency can approve the proposal.

For support in the United States and Canada, call 1-801-240-1007. Outside the United States and Canada, call the area office.

37.1

Language Wards and Branches

A stake president may propose creating a language ward or branch for stake members (1) who do not speak the local native language or (2) who use sign language.

A stake president may also propose creating a language ward or branch that includes members from one or more neighboring stakes. The stake presidents involved plan and coordinate the recommendation. One of the participating stakes will be responsible for the ward or branch.

Minimum Requirements to Create a Language Ward or Branch in a Stake

Ward

Branch

Number of members (active and less active)

Ward

125

Branch

No minimum

Number of active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders capable of serving in leadership positions

Ward

1 for every 20 members (active and less active). There must be a minimum of 15.

Branch

4

Boundaries for language units generally follow the boundaries of conventional wards, branches, and stakes.

The children and youth of a language unit may combine classes with a conventional unit if desired (see 29.10).

See 36.3 for language branches in a mission. See 36.4.2 for ward and branch naming guidelines.

Youth/YSA hanging out

37.1.1

Membership in a Language Ward or Branch

  • Members must live within the boundaries of the language ward or branch.

  • Members may choose to be members of the language unit or their conventional unit.

  • Each person’s membership record should be in the unit he or she is attending.

37.1.2

Leadership in a Language Ward or Branch

  • Generally, the bishop or branch president and his counselors are called from within the boundaries of the language unit. Exceptions may be made for leaders who do not live within the unit’s boundaries if they live within the stake that is responsible for it.

  • First Presidency approval is required before calling a bishop.

  • Generally, other leaders and teachers are called from among the membership of the ward or branch.

37.2

Young Single Adult Wards and Branches in a Conventional Stake

A stake president may propose creating a young single adult ward or branch (for members ages 18–30) if the stake has enough active young single adults who would like to attend.

A stake president may also propose creating a ward or branch that includes members from one or more neighboring stakes. The stake presidents involved plan and coordinate the recommendation. One of the participating stakes will be responsible for the ward or branch.

A conventional stake with boundaries that overlap those of a young single adult stake should not have its own young single adult unit.

Minimum Requirements to Create a Young Single Adult Unit in a Stake

Ward

Branch

Number of active members

Ward

125

Branch

50

Number of active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders capable of serving in leadership positions

Ward

1 for every 20 members (active and less active). There must be a minimum of 15.

Branch

4

A young single adult ward usually should not have more than 225 active members.

See 36.4.2 for ward and branch naming guidelines.

37.2.1

Membership in a Young Single Adult Ward or Branch in a Conventional Stake

  • Members must be young single adults (ages 18–30) who live within the boundaries of the young single adult ward or branch.

  • Young single adults may choose to be members of the young single adult unit or their conventional unit.

  • Each person’s membership record should be in the unit he or she is attending.

  • If the stake president feels that it would help a less-active young single adult in his stake, he may approve transferring the membership record from the conventional unit to the young single adult unit. When the less-active member becomes active, he or she may choose to attend the young single adult unit or the conventional unit.

  • Young single adult parents (ages 18–30) who have children at home remain in their conventional unit. The parents may attend the activities of the young single adult unit.

  • Members do not attend a young single adult unit when they marry or reach the age of 31. See 37.5 for single adult members ages 31–45.

37.2.2

Leadership in a Young Single Adult Ward or Branch in a Conventional Stake

  • The bishop or branch president should be a married man of mature judgment and experience. First Presidency approval is required before calling a bishop.

  • The bishop’s counselors may include young or older married men and must be high priests. The first counselor is usually a more experienced leader. A branch president and his counselors may be high priests or elders.

  • Generally, the bishop or branch president and his counselors are called from within the boundaries of the young single adult unit. Exceptions may be made for young single adult units that serve universities and colleges.

  • Other leaders and teachers are called from among the young single adults who are members of the unit.

37.3

Young Single Adult Stakes and Their Wards and Branches

Where large numbers of young single adults live in one area, usually near universities or colleges, one or more young single adult stakes may be organized.

Minimum Requirements to Create a Young Single Adult Stake, Ward, or Branch

Young single adult stake

  • 1,500 members (active and less active)

  • 5 wards

Young single adult ward in a young single adult stake

  • 125 members (active)

  • 1 active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is capable of serving in a leadership position for every 20 members (active and less active). There must be a minimum of 15.

Young single adult branch in a young single adult stake

  • 50 members (active)

  • 4 active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders who are capable of serving in leadership positions

A conventional stake with boundaries that overlap those of a young single adult stake should not have its own young single adult unit.

A young single adult unit that is in a conventional stake may be transferred to a young single adult stake only when:

  • Its boundaries are adjacent to the young single adult stake.

  • The presidents of both stakes recommend the transfer.

See 36.4.1 and 36.4.2 for stake and ward naming guidelines.

37.3.1

Membership in a Young Single Adult Stake and Its Wards or Branches

  • Members must be young single adults (ages 18–30) who live within the boundaries of the young single adult ward or branch.

  • All active and less-active young single adults within the stake boundaries who are not living at home with their parents are members of the young single adult stake unless they choose to attend their conventional unit.

  • Young single adults who live at home with their parents may choose to be members of the young single adult unit or their conventional unit.

  • Each person’s membership record should be in the unit he or she is attending.

  • Young single adult parents (ages 18–30) who have children at home remain in their conventional unit. The parents may attend the activities of the young single adult unit.

  • Members do not attend a young single adult unit when they marry or reach the age of 31. See 37.5 for single adult members (ages 31–45).

37.3.2

Leadership in a Young Single Adult Stake and Its Wards or Branches

  • The stake presidency, high councilors, stake patriarch, bishoprics, branch presidencies, and stake Relief Society presidency should be married people of mature judgment and experience. First Presidency approval is required before calling a bishop.

  • A bishop’s or branch president’s counselors may include married students or young or older married men. They may be high priests or elders. The first counselor is usually a more experienced leader. A branch president and his counselors may be high priests or elders.

  • The stake presidency, high councilors, stake patriarch, bishoprics, branch presidencies, and stake Relief Society presidency may be called from a broader geographical area than the boundaries of the stake, as determined by the Area Presidency. Those who extend such callings first consult with the person’s stake president to obtain approval. For guidelines, see chapter 30.

  • Quorum of the Twelve approval is required before calling a patriarch.

  • In wards and branches, other leaders and teachers are called from among the young single adults who are members of the unit.

37.4

Married Student Stakes and Wards

Married student stakes and wards may be created to serve the married student members who live close to a university or college.

Minimum Requirements to Create a Married Student Stake or Ward

Married student stake

  • 1,500 members (active and less active)

  • 5 wards

Married student ward

  • 125 members (active and less active)

  • 1 active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is capable of serving in a leadership position for every 20 members (active and less active). There must be a minimum of 15.

See 36.4.1 and 36.4.2 for stake and ward naming guidelines.

37.4.1

Membership in Married Student Stakes and Wards

  • Members must be married students who live within the boundaries of the married student ward.

  • Married students may choose to be members of the married student ward or their conventional unit.

  • Membership records should be in the unit the family is attending.

37.4.2

Leadership in Married Student Stakes and Wards

See 37.3.2 and apply the same guidelines.

37.5

Single Adult Wards

Generally, single adult members (ages 31–45) are best served in conventional units. As an exception, a stake president may suggest creating a single adult ward.

A stake president may also suggest creating a single adult ward with members from one or more neighboring stakes. The stake presidents involved plan and coordinate the recommendation. One of the participating stakes will be responsible for the ward.

Minimum Requirements to Create a Single Adult Ward in a Stake

Number of members (active and less active)

125

Number of active, full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders capable of serving in leadership positions

1 for every 20 members (active and less active). There must be a minimum of 15.

See 36.4.2 for ward naming guidelines.

37.5.1

Membership in a Single Adult Ward

  • Members must be single adults (ages 31–45) who live within the boundaries of the single adult ward.

  • Single adults may choose to be members of the single adult ward or their conventional unit.

  • Each person’s membership record should be in the unit he or she is attending.

  • Single adult parents (ages 31–45) who have children at home remain in their conventional unit. The parents may attend the activities of the single adult ward.

  • Members do not attend a single adult ward when they marry or reach the age of 46.

37.5.2

Leadership in a Single Adult Ward

  • The bishop and his counselors should be married high priests of mature judgment and experience. First Presidency approval is required before calling a bishop.

  • Other leaders and teachers are called from among the single adults who are members of the ward.

37.6

Wards and Branches for Members in Special Circumstances

A stake president may suggest creating wards or branches for members in special circumstances, such as those who are in care centers, treatment programs, or prisons.

Generally, leaders who are called to serve in these units should live within the stake that is responsible for the unit.

See 36.3 for information about branches in a mission for young single adults or single adults; members who do not speak the local native language; members who are in care centers, treatment programs, or prisons; or members in the military.

See 36.4.2 for ward and branch naming guidelines.

Baguio University Ward, Philippines

37.7

Groups in Stakes, Missions, and Areas

Groups are small authorized gatherings of members overseen by a bishop, branch president, or mission president. The stake or mission president may recommend creating a group in the following circumstances:

  • Travel for its potential members to meet with a ward or branch is difficult.

  • A small number of members speak a language that is different from those in the ward or branch.

  • Members in the military are best served by being in a group (see 38.10).

To propose creating a group, the stake or mission president submits a request to the Area Presidency. Only the Area Presidency can approve the request.

A group must have at least two members. One must be a worthy priest in the Aaronic Priesthood or a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder.

In stakes, the stake president assigns a bishop or branch president to organize and supervise the group. In missions, the mission president assigns a branch president to organize and supervise it.

Generally, a group can be created to serve members who live in one or more units within a stake or district. Group membership is limited to those who live within the boundaries of the participating unit or units. Groups do not cross stake or district boundaries.

The stake president, mission president, bishop, or branch president calls a group leader and sets him apart. The group leader organizes and conducts group meetings, which include the administration of the sacrament.

A group leader does not hold priesthood keys, and he is not authorized to:

  • Receive tithes and offerings.

  • Counsel members about serious sin.

  • Give informal or formal membership restrictions.

  • Perform other duties that require priesthood keys.

Typically, groups use the Basic Unit Program (see 36.6).

Membership records of group members are kept in the ward or branch that supervises the group.

Church headquarters does not assign a unit number to groups.

When a group qualifies, the stake or mission president may propose for it to become a branch.

37.8

Church Units at Military Installations

For instructions on creating wards, branches, and service member groups that meet on military installations, see 38.10.4.

Taking a selfie at Nauvoo YSA Conference