We went to two wards today. Well, actually a ward and a branch. This is a comparison of the two (for those of you who aren’t familiar with the structure of the LDS church, click here and scroll down to “Geographic Structure”):
The Park Slope Ward, which we went to in the morning, is a moderately sized ward of mostly young professionals and graduate student families. There were lots of little kids running around, lots of designers for Micah to network with, and very little “diversity.” In short, there were a lot of people like us. You could say that we could have been the poster children for the ward since we are both a “student family” and a “young professional family,” we are white, and we have a small child. Oh, and we went to BYU. We actually went to see some of Micah’s friends from school and to do some networking since there are a preponderance of designers in the ward (two of the bishopric members are designers).
The East New York First Branch, which we went to in the afternoon, is the branch we actually belong to. We’ve been told there are over 300 members in the branch, but sacrament meeting attendance is maybe 60-70. Excluding missionaries and counting us, there were seven white people in today’s sacrament meeting. There was one (or maybe two) families that had both parents attending church with the children. (The other white family is, interestingly enough, also a student family, but the husband is inactive so the wife takes the kids by herself.) I can’t comment on the education level/professional status of the members. Most of the members are of African descent, but from the West Indies.
I’m writing about this for a few reasons. First, I just wanted to give you all a taste of our little corner of Brooklyn. Second because it just blows my mind how segregated the two are. Are there really no other white LDS families that live on this side of New York Avenue? Are there really no black LDS families that live on the other side of New York Avenue? Third, despite the differences in the two places, we felt very much welcome and at home in both. In Park Slope this is because we are just like everybody else. In East New York it is because the only thing we have in common is the gospel (and that we all like babies, and Simon is the only baby).
After going to church last week, we were a little bit discouraged. Hadn’t we spent the first two years in Hawaii in a ward where we had a hard time understanding the locals, where we were “different” because we weren’t students and we weren’t Polynesian? We were a little worried that this was going to be the same thing: a year of not understanding the conversation in Sunday School and of constantly being asked when we would be leaving. Part of the reason we went to Park Slope was to see if it would be worth it to try to get into that ward sooner rather than later, but after attending both back to back we realized that it doesn’t matter. The church is true and the people are great in both places.