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What Are Mormon Wards and Stakes?

By Mormon.org

The Mormon Church is a worldwide church that is divided into geographic areas, such as North America Southwest, South America Northwest, and Europe. Each of these larger areas is further divided into stakes, and then stakes are made up of several wards.

Mormon Congregations are Called Wards

A ward is a single congregation within the Mormon Church, with most wards containing 300 or more members. Smaller congregations also exist, typically with 200 members or fewer. These smaller congregations function the same as wards but are called branches.

Leading every ward is a bishop and his two counselors, who together form a bishopric. A bishop has numerous responsibilities, including watching over and counseling ward members, guiding the ward’s youth, managing the ward’s finances, and more. In a branch, the branch president and his two counselors have duties that mirror those of a ward bishopric.

Each ward contains a number of other church organizations, which are led by presidencies who serve and supervise the members in the organization. These groups are formed based on such factors as age or gender. For example, all children ages 3 through 11 belong to an organization called Primary. Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 belong to Young Men and Young Women organizations. And the Relief Society is the world’s largest organization for women.

Bishops regularly meet with their counselors and with the presidencies of ward organizations to discuss the well-being of ward members.

What Is the Purpose of Mormon Wards?

The purpose of Mormon wards is to provide classes and programs to help each individual learn and grow spiritually. Being part of a ward gives members the chance to participate in and be part of a local church community, as well as to serve other ward members.

Besides attending classes on Sundays, the youth in a ward (ages 12 to 18) attend classes on Sundays and usually meet for one activity during the week. 

Women in the ward belong to a group called Relief Society. This organization seeks to help women by:

  • Increasing their faith in God and Jesus.
  • Strengthening individuals and families.
  • Working together to serve and help those in need.

Men in the ward belong to priesthood quorums. Priesthood is the power and authority that God gives man to do what is needed for the salvation of God’s children. Jesus used the power and authority of the priesthood to bless and serve people, and today priesthood members use the same priesthood power and authority to bless and serve others and to strengthen families.

Mormon Stakes

On average, a stake includes between 5 and 12 ward congregations. All Mormon wards and branches are organized geographically around stake centers, which are physical meetinghouses (churches) where members gather on Sundays to worship and learn about God and Jesus, as well as throughout the week for Church-related activities.

Similar to a ward, a stake president and two counselors lead each stake and oversee the well-being of each member within the stake. A stake high council, a group of 12 men, is called to help the stake presidency direct the advisory and administrative duties of the stake. 

How Do Mormon Wards and Stakes Work Together?

The organization of wards and stakes benefits the Mormon Church in three ways:

1. Fellowshipping. At the ward and stake levels, individuals and organizations are assigned and volunteer to serve members of their ward and stake, as well as others living in their area. Individuals report to their ward organizations, and these organizations then report to the same organizations at the stake level to ensure everyone in the stake’s geographic area is being fellowshipped.

2. Missionary Efforts. Each ward has at least two full-time missionaries assigned to labor in the ward’s geographic area—some have more than two—and each stake has multiple sets of missionaries serving. Every Mormon member also has the responsibility of being a member missionary. While members don’t wear name tags, they do volunteer their time and do help the ward and stake missionaries bear witness of Jesus and teach people about Christ’s church.

3. Compassionate Service. One of the Relief Society’s key purposes is to compassionately serve others. The ward and stake Relief Society presidencies work together to coordinate the visiting of individual women and families who live in the ward and stake boundaries. These presidencies and the ward Relief Society members voluntarily take meals to families in need, babysit children, visit people who may be lonely, and do numerous other things to serve and show charity to ward members and neighbors.

Ward and stake members do all these things to lift and strengthen one another. They believe in working together and in building each other up because strong church communities produce a stronger society.