Denise Stewart of the Emerson Ward, Caldwell New Jersey Stake, understands the impact that single members can have in an area. In her stake are members from various walks of life. Some come from the inner city and have had difficult lives. Others have recently moved from home and are starting out on their own for the first time. All are striving for something better and are willing to contribute to help build the kingdom of God.
"Some of them have great temptations," Sister Stewart said. For several years she has worked with the young single adults and is currently an institute teacher. She recalled one young man who grew up in the inner city. He was involved in drugs and gangs but then he found the gospel. He has since married and is working to be a seminary and institute teacher.
Although some of the members Sister Stewart teaches may have had challenges, she said they also have great testimonies and are willing to serve.
President Harold B. Lee once said of single members, "In your ranks are some of the noblest members of the Church — faithful, valiant, striving to live the Lord's commandments, to help build up the kingdom on earth, and to serve your fellowmen."
"That is how they contribute because they love the gospel and they learn to serve," Sister Stewart said.
The call to serve extends to all members, regardless of their marital situation. With the recent natural disasters on the east coast, the regional YSA conference included a day of service to help clean up in a state that was hit with two tropical storms and an early snowstorm.
President James E. Faust, who served in the First Presidency from 1995 until his death in 2007, gave a message in the August 2007 Ensign, in which he said, "Many who are single bring much-needed strength to family members and others, providing support, acceptance and love to nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, and extended family members. Thus, in a sense, singles can do much parenting in their own right. As they do so, they can have a great impact because so often they can say things parents cannot say to their own children."
Sister Stewart agreed and said those she teaches have a great love for children, especially the women. She has noticed that even if her students do not have children of their own, they can be friends with the young children and be an example to the youth of the Church.
"They have great talents that they can share," Sister Stewart said. "They are energetic. They have a lot they can contribute."
Although some single members might not have the same responsibilities as married couples, Sister Stewart said it is important to remember that they do have other duties and their time is important.
Earlier this year, the Church announced the reorganization and realignment of young single adult wards and stakes throughout Utah and the discontinuance of student wards.
Elder Steven E. Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy noted that the young single adult group "tends to drift a little bit, to different units, different wards." With this change to wards and stakes, young single adults can choose to attend the YSA ward or the conventional family ward.
"We hope it will provide enhanced opportunities for them to serve in leadership positions, and to teach, to lead," Elder Snow said. "We hope it enhances their opportunities to meet other people and to do meaningful service, and we want to deliver these opportunities in their geographic area."
President Dennis D. Danielson of the Chandler Arizona Alma Stake said he is blessed to have 25 percent of the stake made up of single members.
"I have felt for a very long time that the [single adults] in the Church play a vital role in taking the programs of the Church to all of our Heavenly Father's children," he said.
President Danielson noted that members of the Hartford YSA Ward have helped with children as parents attended training events, sisters have planned Christmas celebrations and many single adults serve in stake and ward auxiliary positions.
"Many have desires to be married or re-married; however, they realize the importance of serving the Savior and in building His kingdom," President Danielson said. "That service has brought them personal satisfaction and joy."
Sister Stewart believes that there is a greater effort in the Church to include singles and focus on their needs. She also believes they are able to fill roles that no one else can fill.
"They need to pray and they need to find their own niche," Sister Stewart said. "They need to find it through the gospel for themselves. If you are praying sincerely to be able to understand what the Lord wants you to do, you are going to be able to get those answers."
It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that brings members from all walks of life together. The apostle Paul's epistle to the Ephesians described it best when he said, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19).