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Latter-Day Saints offer their unwed a way to mix and mingle
0811LDSSINIGLES
Jenny Eppich, left, of Cumming and Amber Jameson of Gainesville set up the donations table for Gateway Domestic Violence Center at the Gainesville Civic Center for the 2012 Atlanta LDS Single Adult Conference. - photo by BRANDEE A. THOMAS

2012 Atlanta LDS Single Adult Conference

When: daily through Sunday; registration begins 7 a.m. Aug. 11

Where: Gainesville Civic Center; 10 a.m. Sunday worship service at Gainesville Ward, 1234 Riverside Drive

Cost: $45-$65

In addition to worship services, most churches have also played host to a fair share of wedding ceremonies. And it’s not uncommon to hear a pastor acknowledge a wedding anniversary from the pulpit or in church bulletins.

With all of that focus on the paired off, some singles may feel as if they’ve been forgotten.

However, that’s not the case with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In addition to monthly dances for singles of all ages, individual wards often come together for singles conferences.

“As a church we really believe that families are the central building block of society and also of the kingdom of Heaven,” said Robert Paxton, who is a member of the High Council for the Sugar Hill Stake of the Latter-Day church.

“As a result there’s a lot of emphasis on families, yet there are a lot of people who love Jesus Christ, are members of the church and follow the gospel but for one reason or another they’re not in a family.

“Sometimes they have special needs that are not accommodated by activities that are centered more around families. The Single Adult Program throughout the church is a way to focus and minister to their needs.

“Part of that is providing activities where they can socialize and find individuals who have similar circumstances and concerns and they can gain strength from each other that way.”

The 2012 Atlanta LDS Single Adult Conference is being held this weekend at the Gainesville Civic Center.

“Usually it’s around Atlanta, so it’s rare to have it this far north,” said Amber Jameson, who helped organize this year’s conference.

Although the gathering is open exclusively to singles and features several ice-breaker events, the focus isn’t on pairing everyone off.

“Most single adults don’t have anyone to come home to like the married adults do, so they need social activities and opportunities to be uplifted and spiritually fed,” said Jameson, who has been attending the conferences for several years.

“The conference gives us the opportunity to mingle with those people who are single like us, meet new friends and get to know each other better.”

In addition to keynote speakers, there will be three workshops: “What Matters Most,” stress management and “Seeking Revelation.”

There will also be a special panel, “Being Single in a Family Ward.”

The three-day conference began Friday with a social activity and will conclude Sunday with a light breakfast and 10 a.m. church service at the Gainesville Ward, 1234 Riverside Drive.

Registration re-opens at 7 this morning and costs between $45-$65. Activities will be going on throughout the day until around 11:30 p.m.

As is customary, the conference features a community service project for participants.

“We want to have fun, but we also want to give back to the community,” Jameson said.

“This year, we’ve asked everyone to bring items for us to donate to the (Gateway Domestic Violence Center). “We’re collecting things like baby items, flashlights and personal hygiene items.”

Conference organizers have also thrown something new into the mix for this year.

“We’ve introduced a speed dating (session),” Jameson said. “This is the first time we’ve done it, so we’ll see how it goes. So far, the response has been really good though.”

Organizers are anticipating seeing a few hundred singles.

“We had 150 people sign up before the conference even started and we usually have another 100 sign up at the door,” Jameson said.

“We decided to invite the whole Southeast region to this conference, so we have people coming from Florida, Tennessee and (the Carolinas),” Jameson said.

“We even have one lady who is travelling from Ohio just to attend.

“We’re really excited. We’re looking forward to a good time.”

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