With movies like “The Singles Ward” focusing on ward creepers, less-active members, and crazy testimony bearers, singles wards may not have the best stereotype. But one thing is certain: some wards are better than others.
In Provo and Orem, students have more options to choose from. They can decide if they want to be in an older or younger ward, what bishopric they want and the location. Many students have met their spouses and found jobs through ward connections. Others have felt completely out of place because they seemed too old for the ward and did not fit in.
“I manage a single guys’ apartment complex and sometimes people will come in and ask about the apartment, but they will also ask about the singles ward. I thought it would be nice if there was a place I could direct them to,” said Severin Nelson, a BYU law student from Rochester, N.Y.
Nelson and his former classmate, Zach Pendleton, a BYU law graduate, from West Jordan, decided they would create a website to solve this dilemma.
“We started thinking about it a year ago,” Nelson said. “We watched the ‘Social Network.’ We thought, if you can rate your professor and find out what classes to take, you should be able to rate your ward and find out what ward you should move into.”
The website was released in early March and is currently geared toward Provo and Orem single adults.
“Ideally, we would like to have ratings for every ward,” Pendleton said. “We’ve talked about branching [outside of Provo and Orem].”
Once someone rates a ward, it should show up immediately. Students also have the option to upload ward pictures, but the pictures will be approved before they are posted on the website.
“All the ratings will be removed after a year and a half to keep the site fresh,” Nelson said. “Wards change, bishops change, and we want it to reflect. We want relevant data.”
Nelson can empathize with students searching for the perfect ward since he had contrasting experiences in wards around the Provo and Orem area.
“Because of my great singles ward, I found my wife, I found a job that turned into a bigger job. I made lifelong friends and got into law school. All of this came from being in the right ward at the right time. If you’re in the right ward, amazing things can happen,” Nelson said.
In addition to students adding to the site’s ward ratings, Nelson and Pendleton would like feedback on their site.
“Constructive criticism is what we are looking for to make it better,” Nelson said.
Josh Lewis, a senior from South Jordan, majoring in business management, is looking forward to using Rate My Singles Ward as a source to look for future wards.
“There are a lot of ward hoppers,” Lewis said. “A lot of people are trying to date or get married, so they will try going to different wards. A lot of people will be intrigued by the site. I would use it. I used to institute-hop, so I would not mind checking out different wards.”
Keith Barney, bishop of Provo YSA 17th ward, said ward hopping seems to make religion more of a popularity contest and students may not get the leadership experience they need if they are constantly moving to a seemingly better ward.
“I’m against comparing this ward against that ward,” Barney said. “If the students are moving every four months, the feel and tone of the ward will change.”
Barney suggests the site might also lead to students trying to be someone they are not in order to fit into a ward. Regardless, many students look forward to the possibility of finding their perfect ward.
Lewis said he feels this site will be a success as long as people start rating their wards.
“It’s gotta get going quick if you want it to pick up,” Lewis said.
To rate a ward, go to ratemysinglesward.com