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What is a ward/stake/branch?

Official Answer

Our local congregations are called wards (or branches for smaller congregations). They are organized geographically and members attend a ward or branch near their home. Because in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all the teaching materials are consistent throughout the wards and branches, a person will be studying the same lessons no matter where in the world they attend church. The spiritual leader of each ward is called the bishop (or the branch president for branches). He is a member of the congregation who has been asked to serve as a volunteer in this position. A group of wards forms a stake, and the leader of a stake is a stake president. “Stake” is not a term found in the New Testament, but is taken from Old Testament tent imagery in which the “tent,” or church, is held up by supporting stakes (see Isaiah 54:2).

A ward or a branch is a community in which members develop friendships and help each other. Members try to follow the teachings of an ancient prophet who taught that when we are baptized, we are “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and “willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:8-9). Through service, members lift one another’s burdens and express their love.

  • To make the administration of this world-wide church possible, the church is organized into geographical regions and sub-regions. The most basic administrative unit is called the "ward". The wards in the church vary in size but are comprised of a geographical area with anywhere from 300 to 700 members. The ward is presided by a bishop. A group of five to twelve wards are combined to form a "stake". A stake is presided by a stake president. In regions of the world where there is a lesser concentration of members, "branches" are formed. These branches are equivalent to wards but usually have less members. A branch is presided by a branch president. This organization makes it possible for 14 million members to each have local leaders that can provide guidance, teaching, and administering of the sacred ordinances of the gospel Show more

  • A ward are local congregations much like a parish in the catholic religion (they are not the same just about the same size). Branches are smaller congregations that do not meet the requirements to be called a ward. It is organized based on population and where you live. Stakes are a group of wards and branches. Show more

  • A stake is a geographical area and is made up of smaller geographically defined congregations called wards and branches. Branches have a smaller amount of membership than a ward. The name "stake" is based on an idea in the book of Isaiah in the bible. In chapter 33 of Isaiah verse 20, Isaiah compares Zion to a tent. He talks about the stakes that hold up the tent. The stakes of the church are thought of in this way. Show more

  • These are simply ways to organize ourselves. As there are 14 million members of the church, we can all not meet at once. We are therefore divided by the areas in which we live. In a town or city that has a fair amount of LDS people, there will typically be a couple of different wards. The presiding authority over a ward is called a Bishop. A branch is just another name for an undersized ward. This presiding authority is called the Branch President. A stake is a group several different wards. The presiding authority over a stake is the Stake President. Show more

  • There is a lot of vocabulary that is unique to Mormonism, including the terms we use for our congregations. A ward is a local congregation, usually made up of between 200-600 members. Wards have specific geographic boundaries, so which ward you attend would depend on where you live. A ward is presided over by a lay priesthood holder called a bishop. A branch is similar to a ward, except it is smaller. They range in size from a single family to the size of a small ward. Generally, branches are in areas without a significant Mormon population, specific to a language, or for individuals who are single. Branches do not have bishops, but are presided over by a branch president. A stake is a larger organization in the church. Several wards and branches, frequently around 12, will comprise a stake. The stake is able to support the wards and branches through additional resources and leadership. Stakes are presided over by stake presidents. Show more

  • For those reading who are familiar with Catholicism a Ward and a Stake are basically the same as parishes and dioceses. For those who are not a ward is a congregation based upon a certain geographical area. And a stake a is group of multiple wards varying between 5-10 wards. Show more

  • For purposes of organization, a Ward or Branch is the group you meet with for church, based on where you live. They vary in size, branches are slightly smaller than wards, and wards vary in the various 100's of members. Wards and branches are then organized into stakes, containing several wards/branches. Show more

  • I used to be an Anglican so in Anglican terms think ward or branch=parish and stake=diocese. One major difference though is that no one is paid in the LDS church. Those who hold leadership positions in the ward or stake are all doing it because God has called them to, and not for money. That applies to everyone from a nursery leader in a small branch to the President of a large stake. Show more

  • For the convenience of members and leaders in the church, we divide the church into congregations. Small congregations are called branches, large congregations are called wards. A ward can be thought of as a neighborhood or county level organization, depending on how many members are in the neighborhood or county. A stake is a group of about 10 congregations which may be either wards or branches or both. Show more

  • It's a family of worshippers. It's a congregation. Our wards (or "branches," our term for smaller congregations), are organized geographically. Basically, where we live determines what ward we attend. Sometimes, two or three wards share one meetinghouse and simply meet at different times. A group of wards is organized into what we call a "stake." Members of a ward can become very much like a family as we study, pray, and serve together. Members of the ward receive "callings" from the Lord through the Bishop (head leader, like a pastor). The callings can include anything from teaching & playing with the youngest children at church, to running the ward library, to being a Scout leader, or choosing the songs to be sung in our sacrament meetings. As we humbly serve one another, our relationships deepen & we seek ways to serve each other beyond our respective callings! Show more

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