News Story

Strength of Latter-day Saint Congregations Celebrated

Those not familiar with terms frequently used by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may be confused by some of them. For example, a common phrase is “I’m going to the stake center.” Without more information, that may sound like someone is going to a restaurant.

A Latter-day Saint stake, however, is a group of local congregations (called wards and branches) in a geographical area. In some other Christian faiths such a grouping is called a diocese. The central meetinghouse for the area is called a “stake center.”  

One stake, in Seattle, Washington, celebrated the 70th anniversary of its founding last week. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles traveled to Washington to take part in the celebration.

It was an especially meaningful milestone for Elder Ballard because it was his grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, also an apostle, along with Church President Heber J. Grant, who organized the Seattle Stake in 1938.

When the stake was created, there were less than 5,000 members of the Church in that region. Today there are over 250,000 Latter-day Saints in 489 congregations in the state of Washington. Some of those original pioneering members were able to attend the 70th anniversary celebration and share their personal experiences.

Six of the ten presidents of the Seattle Stake were at the celebration and were thanked by Elder Ballard for their service.

Elder Ballard encouraged members of the stake to continue to be neighborly and community-minded, asking them to be “wonderful neighbors, loving and kind.”

The term stake is taken from the Old Testament imagery of the desert tent which was held in place by long stakes driven in the ground around the tent to hold it firm and secure in times of fierce winds. So for Mormons, strong local congregations and stakes help the overall Church to be strong also.

Bishops and stake presidents receive no pay for their church service but have jobs as lawyers, farmers, salesmen and other occupations in addition to their ecclesiastical and family responsibilities.

There are over 13 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2,790 stakes and over 27,000 congregations worldwide. Where the Church is less established, branches are organized into districts.

In addition to providing opportunities for Church members to participate in conferences and other meetings, stakes also enable Mormons and their friends to play sports, enjoy cultural arts activities and various other social gatherings.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.