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Our local congregations are called wards (or branches for smaller congregations). They are organized geographically and members attend a ward or branch near their home. Because in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all the teaching materials are consistent throughout the wards and branches, a person will be studying the same lessons no matter where in the world they attend church. The spiritual leader of each ward is called the bishop (or the branch president for branches). He is a member of the congregation who has been asked to serve as a volunteer in this position. A group of wards forms a stake, and the leader of a stake is a stake president. “Stake” is not a term found in the New Testament, but is taken from Old Testament tent imagery in which the “tent,” or church, is held up by supporting stakes (see Isaiah 54:2).
A ward or a branch is a community in which members develop friendships and help each other. Members try to follow the teachings of an ancient prophet who taught that when we are baptized, we are “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and “willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:8-9). Through service, members lift one another’s burdens and express their love.