When the population of Clark County grows, so does its faith community.
Growth in Clark County and within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has prompted the creation of a new stake in Ridgefield. A stake is a collection of wards, or congregations, within a geographic boundary.
“Because of the growth out in Ridgefield and Battle Ground and north Clark County, it came time that there were too many wards in a stake,” said Steve McAllister, a spokesman for local Mormon stakes.
Stakes contain six to 10 wards, which is the term the church uses to refer to local congregations. Wards were shifted from the Vancouver North and Vancouver West stakes to form the Ridgefield Stake, which will be headquartered at the Mormon church off state Highway 502, about a mile east of the interchange with Interstate 5.
Reconfiguring the stakes allows the church to grow and adopt more wards, McAllister said. Currently, there are about 20,000 church members in Clark County assigned to 38 wards within five stakes. The Washington Vancouver Mission has seen membership grow by an estimated 200 people annually, McAllister said.
He attributes the growth to a combination of Mormons moving to the area and more people converting to Mormonism because of the work of local missionaries; he did not have exact numbers on how many people have recently converted.
About 3,000 church members gathered on Sunday to learn about leadership and boundary changes. They may or may not attend church in the same building that they have been, depending on their new assignments.
Joseph Vance, a Vancouver attorney, is the new Ridgefield Stake president, a volunteer lay leader position that oversees ward leaders and counsels members. Previously, Vance was a counselor at the Vancouver West Stake. He will be assisted by two counselors, Spencer Southwick and Ron Kramer. Wade Pickett is the new president of Vancouver West and R. Scott Rushing will head the Vancouver North Stake.
Altogether, Clark County has five Mormon stakes that are part of the Portland Oregon Temple. An estimated 3 percent of people in Washington and 4 percent of people in Oregon are Mormons, according to the Pew Research Center.