Introduction: Submitted by Elder James E. Evanson, Area Seventy, North America Central Area
On August 27th, 2017 the Lethbridge Alberta Young Single Adult Stake was formed from young single adult wards in Southern Alberta. This is the first young single adult stake formed outside of the United States. It is comprised of young single adult wards from stakes in Taber, Lethbridge, Raymond, Magrath, Fort Macleod and Cardston. The creation of the stake was presided over by Elder Vern P. Stanfill of the Seventy, and he was assisted by Elder James E. Evanson of the Seventy. Eric R. Wilde of Lethbridge, Alberta was set apart as the President of the newly created stake with David L. Orr of Fort Macleod, Alberta as First Counselor and A. Clayton Leavitt of Cardston, Alberta as Second Counselor.
There are approximately 2500 YSA members in Southern Alberta with over 1600 on the records of the new stake. The new YSA stake is centered in Lethbridge, Alberta where the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College along with a strong Institute of Religion organization attract many YSA from across Canada. Many YSA members also live and work in the city and surrounding rural communities and actively participate in the YSA wards. These young single adults represent both multi-generational families and new converts from throughout the area. Stake leaders anticipate that this stake will further facilitate the growth and progress of the YSA members in the area and improve activation and missionary efforts amongst this faithful group of Saints.
During the conference, the young single adults were reminded of the blessings of having priesthood keys focused on them as they prepare for so many important life moments. The new stake presidency was enthusiastic about the possibilities of spiritual growth, missionary work, re-activation efforts, and social connections among the young single adults of the new stake. Over 700 young single adults from Southern Alberta attended this first stake conference.
Inspirational Promptings Lay the Groundwork: Submitted by Brother Mike Steed, Committee Chair for making the recommendation to the First Presidency
About one month after being called as a counsellor in the Lethbridge West Stake presidency, I was privileged to be a part of an orientation meeting held with Elder James Evanson, our Area Seventy. In the meeting, he expressed that there was a plan to organize a committee to consider the creation of a young single adult stake in Southern Alberta.
Several months later as I was sitting in the temple seeking the Lord’s direction in a separate matter, ideas relating to the creation of a YSA stake began to intrude upon my thoughts. I tried repeatedly to block out the intrusive thoughts, but the harder I tried the more intense the thoughts became. Finally, I gave in and uttered a silent prayer, letting the Lord know that if he had something to tell me, I was prepared to listen. Over the next 30 to 40 minutes, ideas and thoughts, regarding the creation of a YSA stake in our region, began to build in my mind. By the time the temple session ended, I was convinced that the Lord desired the creation of a YSA stake in our region, and I was ready to become a staunch supporter of its creation.
It was around that time that I was invited by Elder Evanson, by assignment through my stake president, to serve as the chair of the committee. This committee would ultimately submit a proposal for the creation of a YSA stake in Southern Alberta. My experience in the temple solidified my support for the stake creation, and I was privileged during the proposal process to have other special spiritual experiences. I also witnessed many tender mercies in the creation of the new stake. It was a great privilege for me to serve on the committee and to be a part of Lord’s plan for this area. I have no doubt that we will see marvellous miracles in re-activation, missionary work, and in building the spiritual well-being of the members of the newly created Lethbridge Alberta Young Single Adult Stake.
Opportunity and Testament: Submitted by President Eric R. Wilde, Lethbridge Alberta Young Single Adult Stake President
As a stake presidency, we are excited about this new opportunity to serve the YSA population in this part of Canada. The creation of this stake is a testament to the amazing work that has happened up to this point and the amazing and stalwart young Saints we have here. Young single adults have always held a unique place in traditional family wards and stakes. These great young Saints are all at critical crossroads in their lives. To help respond to the special abilities and needs that these young Saints have, the Lord has allowed the first YSA stake in Canada. YSA wards have been a great blessing for these members. In traditional wards and stakes, the bishop and stake president have responsibilities encompassing the entire spectrum of members from the very young to the very old with all the auxiliaries that support those. In this stake, the keys of the priesthood can be focused completely on these YSA aged Saints. Our greatest goal for all these young single adults is to provide the help and support to allow them to come unto their Saviour and be redeemed through His great atoning sacrifice. As a stake, we will be focusing on the four fold mission of the Church through missionary work, family history and temple work, Gospel learning, and caring for those around us (The Purpose of the Church). We feel incredibly blessed to be part of this great work and look forward to serving shoulder to shoulder amongst these YSA Saints.
An Answer to Prayer and Growth of Testimonies: Submitted by Bishop Darren Pepper, Bishop of YSA Ward
As a Bishop called to serve in the YSA Lethbridge, Alberta Stake, it is an honour to be called to serve the over 2500 young single adults of the Church in this area. Leaders called to serve in the YSA wards and stake consider it a great privilege to serve along side these wonderful young single adults who represent the future leadership of the Church. With all the YSA wards within Southern Alberta now coming under the leadership of its own stake, we can better focus our efforts on meeting the unique challenges that they face. We consider a YSA stake in our area an answer to prayer and an expression of our Heavenly Father's love for them. As young single adults of our new YSA stake commit and dedicate themselves to serve and actively participate in all of our worship and service activities, their testimonies of the Saviour and the restored gospel will flourish.
A Spiritual Witness: Submitted by Sister Janae Hubbard, Lethbridge YSA Relief Society president
When the new stake was announced, I felt the Spirit witness to my heart that it was an inspired change. I know President Wilde has been called of God. When the announcement was made, I really felt this change would be instrumental in bringing more people into the gospel. This thought kept coming to my mind, along with the scripture that says: 'Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened,' (Doctrine & Covenants 82:14). With the creation of this new stake, I really feel that we, as YSA, have the chance to rise up and follow the inspiration of our new stake president. We have the opportunity to serve in and build the Lord's kingdom in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ. There is a greater responsibility to search after and help those who are both in the Church and out of it. I'm really excited about these changes, and I know that as we follow our new stake president, we will see great miracles.
The Growth of God’s Kingdom on Earth: Submitted by President Blake Garner, Lethbridge YSA elders quorum president
Because the Lethbridge Young Single Adult Stake is the first YSA stake created in Canada, it is amazing for me to see the work of the Lord going forward. Having this new stake is important to the continuing growth of the kingdom of God (Matthew 6: 10). This YSA stake will focus on building the faith and testimonies of students and young single adults ages 18-30. This stake enables us as young single adults to unite our collective focus and engage in activities to connect more effectively with each other.
The creation of our own stake will allow us the opportunity to meet new people and expand our circle of friends. Speaking now as an elders quorum president, I believe that having this YSA stake will enable us to track individuals more easily in our quorums and classes. It will also help ensure that all stake members are included in activities, have more opportunities to serve, and provide service to others.
We know that much is expected of us in order to support one another. We can accomplish all that the Lord commands us to do if we follow the counsel of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and “lift where we stand” (Ensign 2008).
The talks presented at the first YSA stake conference emphasized the importance to look for ways we can strengthen our own personal testimonies of Jesus Christ and invite others to come unto Him. We know that the field is “white already to harvest” Doctrine & Covenants 4: 4. Now with more focus and with increased faith, we are excited to reach out to all who may have been struggling in their lives or who are looking for the spiritual peace that can be found by coming unto Christ (John 14: 27).