Sunday, April 12, 2009

Stake Conference -- the Great Minnesota Shake-up

Big news this week: the creation of the St. Cloud Stake. It might not sound like it, but this is a big, big deal. Especially since the decision means changes for every other stake in Minnesota. Some of them are major.

More on that later, but first some explanation on what it takes to make a stake.

Ingredients for a good stake
A new stake doesn't just happen. You need about 3,000 members, plenty of active Melchizedek priesthood holders to run the thing, and final approval from the First Presidency. This is serious business.

A stake is usually made up of 6 to 12 units (organizational-speak for "wards or branches"). Any less than about 6 and it just doesn't make much sense. And 12 is usually the upper limit probably because that's how many are on a stake high council (and they have to visit their assigned ward each month). Plus any bigger than that and it starts to get really hard to run.

How we got to St. Cloud
Now some specifics. A number of years ago, the St. Cloud District was dissolved in order to help create the Anoka Stake. (A district is like a proto-stake, but lacks either the membership or the leadership required for a full stake -- or something like that.) When the St. Cloud District was dissolved, the members were promised that they would not be forgotten, and that a stake would come to St. Cloud someday.

That day is Sunday, May 3, 2009.

A special stake conference will be held on that date for the new St. Cloud Stake members. In that meeting, a new St. Cloud stake presidency will be sustained, along with the new high councilors and probably a whole bunch of other stake callings. I'm not really sure, because I've never experienced it before. Like I said, this doesn't just happen every day. Last year only about 20 new stakes were created in the entire Church.

I believe Patriarch Hill will be the new St. Cloud stake patriarch, since he lives there. Note: "patriarch" is an office in the Melchizedek priesthood, not a calling -- so you're never really released, as you would be if it were simply a calling.

The new Anoka Stake patriarch will be Tom Hawes from the Crystal Ward (one of the wards we're stealing from the Minneapolis Stake). This means the Minneapolis stake will be getting a new patriarch, too.

Stake activities
The new St. Cloud stake is invited to the multi-stake dance on May 16. The YM Encampment in June and girls' camp in August are going to proceed as planned. The girls in the new St. Cloud Stake will be part of the camp, and some of the girls from our "new" wards might join in, too. It sounds like the priest/laurel trip is still being worked on, so I'm not sure who, what, or when that will be.

The bottom line
Here's what the three new stakes in our area will look like. Hold onto your hats. In order, roughly, from north to south:

St. Cloud Stake
• Brainerd Ward
• Alexandria Ward
• St. Cloud Ward
• Granite City Ward [Young Single Adults from the St. Cloud Stake]
• Princeton Ward
• Elk River Ward
• Buffalo Ward
• Willmar Branch
• Hutchinson Branch

Anoka Stake
• Andover Ward
• Anoka Ward
• Maple Grove Ward
• Elm Creek Ward
• Shingle Creek Ward
• Crystal Ward
• Medicine Lake Ward
• Cedar Lake Ward
• Dinkytown Ward [Young Single Adults from the Anoka and St. Paul Stakes]
• Twin Cities 4th Branch [Hmong speaking]

Minneapolis Stake
• Plymouth Ward
• Minnetonka Ward
• Uptown Ward [Young Single Adults from the Anoka and Minneapolis Stakes]
• Twin Cities 1st Ward [Spanish speaking]
• Lake Nokomis Ward
• Bloomington Ward
• Eden Prairie Ward
• Waconia Ward

Like I said, this was a big shake-up. The Duluth and Burnsville Stakes will require new stake presidencies as a result. Our stake presidency will need a new 2nd councilor, since Randy Baker is going to be part of the new St. Cloud stake.

Note: no ward boundaries are changing -- only the arrangement of which wards belong to which stakes. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if the St. Cloud Ward is split very soon. It's huge.

Behind the scenes
President Paynter told us that this has been years in the making. All the stake presidents in Minnesota have been discussing different possible scenarios with our area authority, President Hansen, for a long time.

On November 11, 2008, they came to an agreement, and the application for creating a new stake was submitted. It was reviewed by the Church's boundaries and organization committee, which then passed on their recommendation to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. The application was approved in January, and President Hansen contacted all the stake presidents about a month or so later. All the bishops were contacted about a week before the announcement.

You might be wondering why it is important to keep this kind of thing confidential. I can think of a couple reasons. First, you don't want anyone to stop doing their job/calling if they think/know they're going to be released anyway. Second, you don't want people complaining loudly in the hopes of stopping or altering the decision. Neither are productive, and in fact could be quite damaging. Such great changes are made carefully and deliberately by wise men who constantly seek guidance from the Holy Spirit.

This was a very long post. I wanted to give you as much detail as I could. It's a big deal and there's a lot of information to share. Plus, I've never experienced the creation of a new stake in my life, so this is exciting for me, too. I tried to anticipate any questions you'd have. Feel free to ask more in the comments.

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