Young single adults wards have a meaningful presence in the Church and are now found worldwide from New Zealand to Latin America. Curious about the early days of YSA wards? Here’s a look at how they’ve evolved over the years.
Although the Brigham Young University 1st Ward was created for college students in 1956, and student wards, branches and stakes are mentioned in the 1968 “General Handbook of Instructions,” single adult wards weren’t created for the entire Church until decades later. In the interim, young single adult programs were developed to connect Latter-day Saints to each other and to the gospel. But again, college students were the focus at first, as they were shifting to university campus life.
“Going to college today doesn’t mean leaving the Church circle. The Church is going to college too,” according to a September 1971 New Era article. “You can choose a campus close to home or one far away and still have the influence of the Church in your life.”
At the time, students could stay connected to the Church through the Student Association, which was established by the First Presidency “to assist students to continue growing spiritually while achieving academically,” the New Era article explains. A general authority served as managing director of the Student Association and was assisted by a stake president in the region as well as an institute of religion teacher.
A student council, which included a president, members of Church fraternities and sororities, servicemen, returned missionaries, representatives of women’s affairs, and others, discussed the needs of students on campus. They then determined which group represented on the council could help meet those needs. The Student Association also coordinated activity dates with other Church-sponsored events “so that there [was] no overlap in timing or type of involvement.”
In 1973, a significant change was made to a Churchwide organization that seems to have been another step toward singles wards.
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