Juan Fortunato of Buenos Aires, Argentina, teaches an English class for interested members of his ward. “I’ve been blessed with a strong friendship with each member of the class,” he says. “We all have something to share with each other.”
When Shirley Sun of Taipei, Taiwan, joined a new ward, her bishop called her to teach the Gospel Essentials class in Sunday School. “I had a lot of opportunities to talk to members in the class and get to know them better,” she says.
Susan Buckles settled in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and visited the local family history library. The librarian asked Susan if she would like to volunteer there, and Susan said yes. “There is no way to measure growth unless you are actively involved,” says Susan. “Make yourself useful. Others will notice you and want you to help them.”
Who was single in these three situations? Who was married? It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the joy that can come when fellowshipping and the love of Christ go hand in hand.
President Gordon B. Hinckley is mindful of all Saints. He has said to members who are single: “I feel some concern about the tendency in the Church to divide the members into various classes and groups. … You are men and women, holders of the priesthood, workers in the Relief Society. You are tremendously important to this work. The Church is much the stronger because of you.”1
All can experience the pure love of Christ regardless of age, marital status, wealth, poverty, or even celebrity. The power of this love can transform lives so that we become “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).
As ward or branch members work together and show Christlike love to one another, the ward or branch family can grow closer.
Married couples and singles alike get together at the institute in Hsin Chu, Taiwan. At institute, says Jianbang Lee, “I have a chance to mingle with members besides at Sunday Church meetings. It is a wonderful occasion for members to get to know each other, share ideas, and make friends.”
Brother Lee used to think it was hard to develop friendships with other ward members. “But when I started to realize that there were many people who cared about me and loved me, the whole world seemed to change,” he says. “I started to love the ward and the members in it. I started to give more, not just waiting to receive service, love, or friendship from others.”
Kristine Amosin Cazon of Manila, Philippines, went to her new ward with a friend. A kind sister introduced them to other young single adults, the Relief Society president, and the bishop. Kristine and her friend were asked to stand during sacrament meeting. It made them feel welcome.
“When I was first welcomed in the branch, I was surprised at how loving and caring everybody was,” says Natassa Cokl of Celje, Slovenia. “I was not used to meeting somebody once and the next time hearing them tell me they loved me. I was welcomed with outstretched arms.”
Carla Martinez, a young adult in Buenos Aires, Argentina, felt invisible in her new ward. She didn’t know the members. Carla had moved many times with her family, and life was not always easy for them. But then a sister in the ward started to develop a friendship with her.
“Aldana made me a birthday cake and decorated the humble room where my parents and I lived,” says Carla. “She gave me the best present I could get—her sincere love.”
A member helped Juan Fortunato get acquainted with others in his new ward, making the transition easier. “She literally introduced me to every young person in the stake,” says Brother Fortunato. “She helped me feel part of the group, like I had a new family. She now happens to be my wife.”
Joyce Baggerly of Provo, Utah, considers herself a member of the Lord’s kingdom on earth who happens to be single. “Being single in a mostly married church has never been a problem for me,” she says. “I would rather be married, but I’m not, so I do the best I can with what I have.”
When she moves into a new ward, she finds the executive secretary and requests an appointment with the bishop, and she makes sure the membership clerk requests her records.
“I introduce myself to the Relief Society president and request a visiting teaching assignment. The first fast Sunday, I bear my testimony of Jesus Christ and express how much I love the Savior. I attend every activity the ward has,” she says. “On the rare occasion when I come home from a meeting where I feel ignored, I say a prayer that I might be able to go again with the same cheerful countenance I usually have on Sunday and that I can keep that smile until I am accepted.”
Julie Gill of San Antonio, Texas, works to build friendships with single and married sisters. “The gospel is a great bonding force,” she says. “But sometimes married people forget that all singles don’t fit into the same mold, or they assume that singles can build friendships only with other singles. One sister said to me, ‘You’re so young,’ and yet she was my same age, with two children. It’s a common assumption, but we can embrace our differences to help each other.”
Courtney McGregor moved to Salt Lake City after the sudden death of his wife. To get involved, he went the extra mile. “There are always service opportunities without being called to any particular assignment,” he says. “I volunteered to help with the sacrament. That got me talking to people I otherwise might not have met so soon. I also volunteered to help clean the temple. My experience, married or single, has been the same: friends are there to be made.”
Katrina Young of San Antonio, Texas, has a similar perspective: “I have a desire to belong, so I participate in lessons, accept callings, visit teach, offer to help clean the building, give rides to members in our ward, attend activities, and try to learn the name of a family or individual each week. I have found that I am the one who is served.”
Annelise Scott had just moved into her new ward in Irvine, California. So had several other new senior widows. Nobody really knew each other. Then two sisters in the ward planned a luncheon for others, and from that day on, these sisters have been friends, sitting together in Church meetings, celebrating birthdays, carpooling to activities, and helping each other as needed.
“We watch for new senior sisters when they first come to Relief Society, then get their names and phone numbers so we can keep them active and enjoying our little group,” says Sister Scott.
Just as some ward or branch members are outgoing, some are not. Talking to the bishop or branch president might help singles get better involved in a ward or branch.
“If you are willing to leave your comfort zone and take the initiative in making friends with singles and families in the Church, even Primary children, you’ll find that the people will love you and hold you dearly in their hearts,” says Shuwen Yang of Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Susan Buckles attended a gathering with some Latino brothers and sisters and noticed that they had a particular way of dancing. “If someone didn’t have a partner, they included you in the dance by holding hands and dancing together in a circle,” she says. “They made differences disappear so everyone felt included.”
What unifies the Saints?
“The pure love of Christ makes us of the household of God,” says Yingling Huang of Hsin Chu, Taiwan. By looking to the Savior, we can become one.
“What unifies singles with their ward or branch is the same thing that unifies all members—our testimonies of Jesus Christ,” says Roger Borg of Costa Mesa, California. “The Savior invites all to come to Him. All worthy single members may receive the blessings of the gospel, including temple blessings, and can look forward with hope to blessings, including eternal marriage, that they have not yet been able to receive in this life.”
When friendship and love come together, singles and families of all ages serve each other, look out for each other, and have “their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21). All are blessed as a result.