My Radical Argument about YSA Wards

mormon ysa ward

First you should know that I spent 11 years in YSA wards. I loved them. I mean, I really loved them.  When I heard once that there were apostles who wanted to dissolve them, I was like‚ why?! they are so awesome! But dear people, I think they should be disbanded. Here's my main reason: at a vulnerable time, they divorce single people from the central concept of the gospel—the family.

I didn't realize the full effect of this absence until I transferred my records to a family ward. I thought I knew what a family ward was like. I grew up in one! I visited one at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and all summer! But, it's totally different when you have a calling, and when you are battling it out with everyone else.

Switching over to the family ward, I realized I loved hanging out with grandmas and grandpas. I loved talking with people who'd been married 20 years about my dating life. They had such good advice! I realized I had something relevant to say in relief society and sunday school because we were all facing challenges—and we all needed the atonement.

As someone interested in getting married, it was awesome to witness a wide variety of couples working together through various stages of life. Because, in a YSA ward, for years and years and maybe years, a single person can worship without witnessing any family (functional or dysfunctional) besides their bishopric's.

I know the YSA wards are designed to help single people meet other single people, but sometimes I think that goal could be achieved in simpler ways—FHE activities, sports, and meaningful contributions in the community (meaning you are part of a group that goes every wednesday to tutor refugees or work at the homeless shelter).

The truth is that while the YSA wards can facilitate relationships, they can also create a culture of eternal dating. They can encourage unrealistic expectations about what marriage really looks like. They can majorly encourage the idea that unless someone is married, they aren't a full citizen in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And! maybe more importantly, they prevent really great learning opportunities that occur when worshipping with people from all kinds of life situations.

You probably disagree with me. It's okay. I will just leave you with these two things:

1. My dating life is better since I went to the family ward. Partially because I get set-up with more people (you have 300 people who have single grandsons/nephews/brothers/friends). Partially because when I want to go to a social event, it's because I want to go and not because I feel like I have to go.

2. In addition to worship being more focused on using the atonement to overcome all kinds of challenges, I have never experienced more love and support and awesome back-up than in a family ward—especially when facing challenges that might seem irrelevant to married people. It's super gorgeous.

These two articles might also be relevant here and here.

You probably still disagree with me. Again, it's okay. But, perhaps advocate in your ward for FHE and other activities that really contribute within your wider community. If we're going to have 300 talented, awesome, single people worshipping together, we might as well be a force for consistent usefulness with populations that need help & support. Wouldn't it be radical if your ward volunteered with one specific organization every monday night for 6 months? What meaningful relationships and connections would be made both within the ward and outside the ward?


Anyways, tell me your thoughts on the situation.


  1. Amen! I agree with you 100%.

  2. I love this blog. I love your thoughts. I agree with you and appreciate you talking about them. You are fabulous Emily!

  3. I completely agree. I am 26 and I am preparing to switch to a family ward. I just am not finding what I want? need? in a singles ward anymore.

    And I love the idea of long term service as activities. That is so meaningful and beautiful. And no less functional. More so, perhaps!

  4. You make some totally interesting points that I hadn't thought about before, and I love! My friend amy call sent me your way because I wrote my own post about church culture + YSAs today. I think it's so important that we vocalize these things, so way to be!

  5. agree agree. when I was in singles wards i also felt so much was missing. even in young married wards i still felt like so much was missing. i think part of it is because you lose the wisdom and love and beauty that comes with a lot of diversity. i found that when we were in a ward surrounded by a million other students in the same stage of life, i often left feeling empty.

  6. I have to admit when I first heard you talk about this I was very resistant. Right now, personally, my son really needs the YSA ward as it is - but that's another story. However, now I totally agree with you and see where you are coming from. I love the idea of the service opportunities that the YSA's could be doing with their FHE!!!


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