First YSA Stake Outside of Utah, Idaho Serves Southern Virginia University

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A young single adult stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was last night formed at a special stake conference in Lexington, Va. The new stake will serve members of the Buena Vista Virginia and Roanoke Virginia stakes, including students who attend Southern Virginia University.

Elder Marcus B. Nash of the First Quorum of the Seventy presided at the meeting where the stake was officially organized. Elder J. Christopher Lansing of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy, who accompanied Elder Nash, read an official letter from the First Presidency and then called for a sustaining vote of the new stake presidency.

Although some student stakes exist around the country, the Buena Vista Virginia Young Single Adult Stake is the first of its kind organized outside of Utah and Idaho since the Church phased out student wards and stakes last year and replaced them with YSA wards and stakes. The YSA designation makes the new stake and its wards officially open to all men and women aged 18 to 30 whether or not they are students. The stake also will continue to serve students who attend Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute, as well as young single adults in Buena Vista, Lexington, Lynchburg, Roanoke and other cities.

“This is monumental and will be a great blessing in the lives of our students,” said Southern Virginia University Acting President Richard G. Whitehead. “We are grateful to the Church for its continuing efforts to meet the needs of our students.”

The names of the existing five university wards were changed to accommodate the YSA designation, and the Buena Vista YSA 6th ward was created. The Roanoke Third Ward, located 50 miles away in Roanoke, Va., was added to the new stake and had its name changed to the Roanoke YSA Ward.

“This new stake will be completely focused on meeting the spiritual and social needs of young singles adults,” said Walter E. Ralls, Jr., president of the Buena Vista Virginia Stake. “It also will bless the lives of both members of the YSA stake and our stake by providing more opportunities for service and growth in the new leadership callings.”

All six of the Buena Vista YSA wards will meet in a meetinghouse and Institute building constructed by the Church at Southern Virginia University and dedicated in March 2009. Three wards will meet concurrently from 9 a.m. to noon, with the other three meeting from 1 to 4 p.m.

Founded in 1867 as a school for women, Southern Virginia University was renewed in 1996 as a coeducational institution with a Latter-day Saint environment. With an initial enrollment of just 74 students, enrollment was at its largest ever in fall 2011, with 800 — a 24 percent increase over the last two years.

The university has a code of honor based on the teachings and tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and more than 90 percent of its students are LDS.