Though not adding a congregation, the Maricopa Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been realigned.
Two wards out of the stake’s nine congregations were most dramatically affected by the change, with several families shifted into other wards. The wards have also been renamed.
Wards are congregations that average about 400 members.
Since the formation of the stake in 2007, there have been six wards and one Spanish-speaking branch (smaller congregation) in the city plus churches in Ajo and Gila Bend. The wards were numbered First, Second, Third and so on. Now they will have place names such as Pacana Park Ward and Maricopa Wells Ward.
Eric Goettl, first counselor in the Stake Presidency, announced the change in ward boundaries and names at a special meeting Sunday night.
“Reach out and get to know your new ward members,” Goettl said. “We know it’s the right thing to do for the stake.”
Men and women who serve in positions in the wards they are leaving because of the shift are considered to be released from those responsibilities.
Stake President Malin Lewis said the presidency had mulled over creating an eighth ward for years but still did not feel it was the time. The decision to realign, he said, came through “revelation and inspiration and will be a blessing to this stake.”
The LDS church has three meeting houses in Maricopa. Two wards and the Spanish-speaking branch meet in a building on Honeycutt Avenue across from Maricopa High School. The wards are now called the Maricopa Wells Ward and Hidden Valley Ward, and the branch is the Maricopa Branch.
The newly named El Dorado Ward and Butterfield Ward meet in the Homestead building on Horton Drive. Pacana Park Ward and Santa Cruz Ward meet at the stake center on Bowlin Road.
The Maricopa Wells Ward covers the largest geographic area, straddling State Route 347 and running from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway south to Interstate 8. Taking in the biggest housing developments, El Dorado, Butterfield and Pacana Park wards are much more densely populated.
El Dorado Ward, which had comprised Rancho El Dorado and the Lakes at Rancho El Dorado, will add about half of Homestead. Butterfield Ward will contain the Villages at Rancho El Dorado and part of Senita. Pacana Park Ward contains Province and part of Senita.
Ward by ward, members at the Sunday meeting were asked to support the decision. Though some members had questions about the fate of some planned events, no one voted in opposition to the move.
“We hope in these efforts that we will bless every family in our stake,” Lewis said.