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Mormon church creates IL ward

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Guest columnist Terry Cook lives in Indian Land.

Aug. 12 was an exciting day for local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the church created its very first ward in Indian Land.
A “ward” in the Mormon church is similar to a congregation in other religious organizations and represents a specific geographic area. A ward usually consists of about 500 members.
On that same day, a new Fort Mill Stake was created. A “stake” is similar to a diocese in other religious organizations and represents several wards.
Earnest James Shannon, an Indian Land resident, was called and sustained as bishop of the newly created Indian Land Ward.  Blake D. Smith, who lives in Tega Cay, was called and sustained as president of the newly formed Fort Mill Stake.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates locally with a lay ministry, and both Shannon and Smith have full-time jobs.
Lancaster and York counties have been high-growth areas for the church. Locally, in addition to the newly formed Indian Land Ward, there are two wards in Fort Mill, one each in Rock Hill, Newport, York and Catawba, and a branch in Lancaster. A branch is smaller than a ward. 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, founded in 1830, is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. The current worldwide membership is over 16 million. South Carolina has had a strong presence of members dating back to 1831, when a convert from Tennessee named Emanuel Masters Murphy moved to the state. The Catawba Indian Reservation became a stronghold for the church in the 1880s, and at one time over 90 percent of the Catawba Indian tribe joined the church. 
There are currently more than 40,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in South Carolina and more than 70 congregations. In 1999, a temple, the most sacred edifice in the church, was built and dedicated in Columbia.