Wards provide 'safety net' for members

Give sense of belonging

Provide place of refuge- Offer chances to serve

"Wards are not designed to replace the family unit, but to support the family and its righteous teachings," said Virginia H. Pearce, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency.

Speaking Sunday afternoon, Sister Pearce spoke about "the ward or branch family - the basic ecclesiastical unit to which we all belong as members of the Church of Jesus Christ."

"A ward is another place," she explained, "where there is enough commitment and energy to form a sort of `safety net' family for each of us when our families cannot or do not provide all of the teaching and growing experiences we need to return to Heavenly Father."

She then spoke of the many benefits of being part of a ward family:

"Ward families provide a sense of belonging." Membership in the Church gives us a home. In a ward, as in a family, every person is different and valuable.

"Ward families provide the reassurance of listening ears. Someone has said that people would rather be understood than be loved. In truth, the surest way to increase our love for someone is to listen with patience and respect."

"Ward families provide encouragement. Notes, handshakes, hugs - all work so well in ward settings. Positive reinforcement changes behavior for the better, while criticism stabilizes negative behaviors and blocks change."

"Ward families are a refuge. Bishops and quorum leaders accounting for families after hurricanes, members carrying food and blankets; it makes no difference where you live or what kind of chaos might occur, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will remain organized and order will prevail."

"Ward families provide ways for us to contribute. There are no boundaries for contributing our time and talents. Hopefully, we will contribute everywhere we go, but the structure of a ward provides a good training ground."

"Ward families provide a laboratory to learn and practice the gospel. I have always believed that if people are really going to learn something, they need more than an explanation; they need an experience.

"Heavenly Father expects us to participate in our wards. It is part of the plan. But, Sister Pearce,' you may be saying,you have such an idealistic picture of a ward. That's not like my ward!'

"You mean, your ward has real people in it? How could it be a real laboratory for practicing gospel principles like patience, long-suffering, charity and forgiveness if there were no people or situations that would require the use of these principles?"

Sister Pearce added, "I would invite you to love whatever ward you are in. Participate in it. Enjoy it. Learn from it."

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