The Day the Ward Split


They had raised their hands; now their vote would be put to the test.

The Day the Ward Split

On the day the Montclair Third Ward was created from parts of three existing wards, the new bishop, Bishop Trask, asked to speak to the youth in his ward for a few minutes after church.

Those waiting for him were mostly all strangers to each other. The ones who came from the same wards sat in small groups and talked about how they wished things could have been left the way they were.

Bishop Trask came in and looked around the room. “Look, I know this is hard on you, but if we try to make it work, the Lord will bless us. And before long all of you will be close friends.”

Bishop Trask looked at the oldest-looking girl in the room. “Excuse me, what’s your name?”

“Dyan. It sounds like D-I-A-N-E, but it’s spelled D-Y-A-N.”

“Which ward are you from?”

“Montclair First. I was the Laurel class president.”

“Glad to have you with us.”

Next he picked out a priest-age boy. “And what’s your name?”

“David Grant. It sounds like D-A-V-I-D and it’s spelled D-A-V-I-D.” David glanced at Dyan and smiled. “I used to be in Cedar Park Second.”

“Could you two stay for a few more minutes? I have to meet with the stake president for just a few minutes, but I would like to discuss some things we could do in this ward as far as youth activities.”

After a few more minutes of introductions, Bishop Trask scheduled another meeting and then excused everybody. A minute later, the room was empty except for David on one side of an aisle of chairs and Dyan on the other.

“Well?” she finally asked.

“Well what?”

“Shouldn’t we talk about this?” she asked.

“What’s there to talk about? I lost all my friends. Not a single one of them is left in the new ward.”

“I lost friends too,” she said.

“But my friends and I were really close.”

She shook her head but didn’t say anything.

David continued, “Cedar Park Second Ward had the best basketball team in the stake. We would have won the tournament this year. I’m the only one from the team in the new ward. Did you look around the room? I’ve never seen so many short guys in my life.”

“I’m going to miss the girls in my Laurel class. We were all really close.”

“This is my senior year. I wish they could have waited a year before making the split.”

“It’s my senior year too.”

“The thing I want to know is why we didn’t get a chance to vote on this,” David said. He rested his head on the back of the chair and stared at the ceiling.

“They asked for people to raise their hands if they sustained the wards’ being split.”

“I know, but that’s not exactly the same thing,” he said.

“Well, it’s common consent. Did you raise your hand to sustain the split?”

“Yeah, sure, everybody did.” David crumpled a piece of paper into a ball and lobbed it toward the wastebasket. It went in. “Three points.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “Anybody can do that.”

“You can’t.”

She got up and retrieved the paper from the wastebasket, returned to her seat, and shot. It went in. She looked over and smiled.

“You were closer to the basket than I was,” he complained.

“Maybe six inches.”

“More like two feet.”

“All right, let’s make it fair,” she said.

They stacked all the chairs except two, which they set up side by side in the center of the room. And then they placed the wastepaper basket midway between them on the opposite wall.

Five minutes later they both had made every shot.

“You’re banking the ball off the wall,” she complained.

“So?”

“Anybody can do that.”

“I don’t need the wall,” he said.

They moved the chairs even farther back, then set the wastebasket away from the wall.

After five more minutes, he was forced to admit, “You’re pretty good.”

“I know,” she said with a smile. “I went to the state basketball tournament last year.”

“You did?”

“We made it to the finals. We were ahead most of the game but ended up losing by two points.

“Did you play?”

“Yeah, until I fouled out.”

“How many points did you have?”

“Seventeen.”

“That’s really good.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “Not good enough.”

He put the wad of paper in the wastebasket and returned the basket to the corner where it belonged, then came and sat down next to Dyan.

“What are we going to tell the bishop when he comes back?” Dyan asked.

“I don’t know. If they could’ve just waited a year.”

“They didn’t, though.” She paused. “I’m sure the stake presidency prayed about it.”

“I suppose.”

“And the bishop seems nice,” Dyan said.

“I guess so, but he’s not like Bishop Campbell, that’s for sure.”

“He’s not like my old bishop either. But look, I doubt this is very easy for him.”

He scowled at her. “You’re going to say we need to set an example so we can make this work, aren’t you?”

“What would be wrong if I did say that?” she asked.

“I’m still sulking.”

“All right. I’ll give you two minutes to sulk, starting now.”

She watched the clock while he muttered all the reasons why he wished the wards had not been divided.

“Time’s up,” she announced.

He looked over at her. “Already? I was just getting started.”

“We have a new bishop now and in a few minutes, he’s coming back to ask for our help.”

“There’s too many short people in the new ward. The boys’ team will never do any good in basketball.”

“You’ll make up for it.”

He smiled. “You think so?”

“I’m sure of it.”

“Maybe so.”

Just then, Bishop Trask entered the room. He looked around. “Thanks for stacking all the chairs,” he said. “That’s very considerate for the people who will be cleaning the building tomorrow.”

“It was David’s idea,” Dyan said. “We both helped put a piece of paper in the wastebasket too.”

“Several times, actually,” David said with a big grin.

“Bishop, we’re ready to do whatever it takes to make this new ward work out,” Dyan said.

“That’s wonderful! Thank you so much. Do you have a few minutes to talk about how we can help the youth pull together?”

“Sure, no problem. I think we should have a prayer before we get started,” Dyan said.

“Thanks a lot,” David whispered to Dyan as they knelt side by side while the bishop brought a chair over to where they were sitting.

“What’s wrong now?” she asked.

I was going to suggest we say a prayer.”

“I can’t wait around for you all the time.”

“You won’t have to,” he said.

“Good. That’s the way it should be.”

The bishop returned.

“We’re going to help you any way we can, Bishop,” David said.

“I just said that,” Dyan said.

“I know, but I just wanted the bishop to know I feel the same way.”

The bishop looked confused. “Uh, maybe, I’ll just say the prayer if that’s all right.”

“Whatever you say, Bishop. We’ll support you in whatever you do,” David said. He then looked at Dyan and winked.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Greer