New York City Young Single Adults Meet

Contributed By By Sister Janet Peterson, New York City Public Affairs

  • 9 May 2013

Young single adults pose for a photo during the Regional Young Single Adult Conference held in New York City on April 20 and 21. The conference drew young single adults from 13 stakes throughout the Northeast.   Photo by Jason Merrell/Jburd iMages.

Article Highlights

  • A two-day Regional Young Single Adult Conference was held April 20 and 21 in New York City.
  • More than 500 young adults from 13 stakes throughout the Northeast participated.
  • The conference helped young adults build friendships and hear the word of God.

“The purpose of coming together is … to provide a spiritual fortress around our young single adults.” —James T. Winder, YSA program adviser


Just as New York City is a gathering place for people from all over the world, so was the Regional Young Single Adult Conference held there April 20 and 21. Drawing from 13 stakes in the Northeast, conference attendees’ countries of origin included China, Brazil, Ukraine, Canada, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic, as well as many American states.

Katherine Dorny, a coleader of the YSA committee, said the purpose of the conference was “to bring people together.” More than 500 young single adults participated in the two-day event, which included tours of New York City, a devotional, a leadership training meeting, a regional sacrament meeting, and a testimony meeting. 

James T. Winder, executive secretary of the regional YSA committee and high council adviser to the New York New York Stake YSA programs, noted that “historically, the Lord and His Church have always promoted the importance of large gatherings: from the early gathering at Adam-ondi-Ahman to King Benjamin’s large gathering to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount to general and stake conferences today. The purpose of coming together is three-fold: to provide a spiritual fortress around our young single adults, to enable young single adults to build important relationships, and to partake of God’s word as it pertains to young single adults in this region.”

Karla Mariscal, who was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, now lives in Plainfield, New Jersey. She wanted to attend the conference to “meet people my same age with the same values.” Mingling with other young adults was especially appealing to many who live in areas where there are only a few young adults.

Following lunch on Saturday in the Manhattan meetinghouse, city tours were offered. On one of the tours, Kate Patrick of the Harlem YSA Ward and Chris Francia of the Waveny Park YSA Ward took a group of 14 young single adults to historic sites. Kendel Christensen of the Philadelphia 3rd Ward joined this tour. “This conference had us go out and spend quality time in smaller groups to tour the city. I got to know each person in my group in a real way—an authentic way that makes them feel more like friends.”

Jeff Benedict, author of the book The Mormon Way of Doing Business and the Sports Illustrated cover story on Jabari Parker, addressed the Saturday evening devotional. He recounted how at several crucial times in his life he did not get what he wanted, such as being turned down for a job and for entrance to Harvard Law School. Though frustrating, these situations led to better opportunities for him and the knowledge that God answers his prayers. “If I had gotten what I wanted then, I wouldn’t be doing what I am today.” He counseled, “What, when, and the way you want things may not be what is best for you. Have faith that someone knows better.”

Brother Benedict also talked about developing good relationships with his colleagues— and being the only Mormon most of them knew. 

Sarah Shepherd of the Manhattan YSA Ward commented, “I loved it when Jeff said that the people around us will want to be better if we don’t judge them. Just love them and be their friend. They’ll see what you stand for and want to have that happiness.”

Elder Jeffery E. Olson, Area Seventy, addressed both the leadership meeting and sacrament meeting held at the stake center on 87th Street.