From a modest beginning in a small city just west of Seattle, Wash., a tiny group of young single adults - under inspired leadership - blossomed into a thriving branch and then a full-blown ward in 3 1/2 years.
"Statistics are impressive and show great growth in YSA (young single adult) participation," said Kaye Burgon, who served as the first branch president and then as the first bishop of the ward. "But the real growth is shown in the lives and hearts of the members who will be forever changed as a result of their associations in and with this branch and ward."The Silverdale 5th Ward of the Silverdale Washington Stake began as a branch March 3, 1991, and was made into a ward a year later. The accomplishments of this new ward in the brief period of its existence are manifold. As of July 1995, there have been 51 baptisms, from efforts in conjunction with the Washington Tacoma Mission; 47 mission calls and 64 temple marriages.
Serious interest in enhancing the young single adult program in the area began in 1989 when Brother Burgon and his wife, Jeannine, moved to Silverdale from Bountiful, Utah. Soon after they and their son, Todd, a recently returned missionary, moved into the area, Brother and Sister Burgon were called as young single adult advisers for the Silverdale 3rd Ward.
Included in their new responsibilities was teaching a Sunday School class for young single adults. At the first class, only one member showed up, Cyndi Holden, a recently baptized member of two months. A few other young single adults were on the class roll, but most were less-active or away at college.
As word of the Young Single Adult program in the Silverdale 3rd Ward spread, the class showed a quick growth with 25 young single adult members in the next nine months, drawing the attention of stake leaders. Young single adults of the Bremerton Washington Stake were invited to join with those of the Silverdale stake in joint programs.
Increased activities of the young single adults in the two stakes prompted Silverton stake Pres. Robert Lingenbrink and his counselor, Frank Pitcher, to plan for organizing a young single adult branch. Pres. David Terry of the Bremerton stake approved combining the young single adults in two stakes for the branch.
Brother Burgon was called to the Silverdale stake high council with the express purpose of collecting data to support the organization of a branch. When the branch was organized in March 1991, he was called as the branch president. At the first branch meeting, 60 young single adults attended. A year later, when the branch was made into the Silverdale 5th Ward, Brother Burgon was called as its bishop. He served as bishop until October 1994.
Brother Burgon has received many letters from former members of the ward telling the effect the branch and ward has had on their lives. An experience he vividly remembers occurred to two young men in the Navy stationed at the Bremerton Shipyard.
"I'll call them by their first names, Russ and Aaron. As shipmates, the two had developed a great friendship. Many times they had discussed subjects of importance to them, including family values, lifestyle and religion. Aaron was LDS but was less-active, while Russ had heard about the Mormons and was acquainted with some of their beliefs and standards.
"One day, Russ asked Aaron why he wasn't more active in his church, saying he thought it represented many good things. Russ also asked Aaron many questions regarding different points of doctrine. Aaron began to realize that he needed to stand up and account for the principles in which he believed. The more questions Aaron answered, the more questions Russ asked. Their friendship strengthened.
"Aaron invited Russ to attend church with him. They came to the Silverdale 5th Ward, which fellowshipped Aaron into activity and loved Russ into the Church. Russ was baptized and later married in the temple."
Brother and Sister Burgon said they both feel they were inspired to make the move to Silverdale and to play the important leadership role with the young people.
"I really got to know Christ during my service with these young people," Sister Burgon explained. Brother Burgon declared, "These young people gave of themselves to help others and in return they helped themselves."
Today, Einar Corelli serves as bishop of the Silverdale 5th Ward.