LDS Church announces changes intended to strengthen youth

Salt Lake Temple. Photo courtesy: Intellectual Reserve, Inc

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 6, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced changes to Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes that give young men and young women more opportunity for all-around growth, officials said.

The Aaronic Priesthood is the lesser of two levels of priesthood in the Church and is conferred upon faithful male Latter-day Saints starting the year in which they turn 12, said a news release from the Church.

“The adjustments we now announce are intended to help young men and young women develop their sacred personal potential,” President Russell M. Nelson said at the Saturday afternoon session of the Church’s 189th Semiannual General Conference.

“We want also to strengthen Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes and provide support to bishops and other adult leaders as they serve the rising generation. … (A bishop’s) first and foremost responsibility is to care for the young men and young women of his ward. The bishop and his counselors direct the work of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums and the Young Women classes in the ward.”

Changes for Bishops, Young Men and Aaronic Priesthood Quorums

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles detailed what will change for Aaronic Priesthood quorums. He also announced a change for bishops to regularly counsel with Young Women presidents.

Young Men presidencies (adult males who lead young men) at the ward level are now discontinued so local bishops can more directly lead and mentor youth. Cook said this practice aligns with a scripture on Church government given to Joseph Smith in 1835: “The bishopric is the presidency of this (Aaronic) priesthood, and holds the keys or authority of the same.” This means, Cook said, that a congregation’s young men and young women should be a bishop’s highest priority.

“These adjustments will help bishops and their counselors focus on their core responsibilities to the youth and Primary children,” Cook said. “(The adjustments will also) place the power and duties of the Aaronic Priesthood at the center of every young man’s personal life and goals.”

In their responsibilities with youth, bishoprics will be assisted by adult men serving as Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers and specialists and Young Women leaders.

Cook also announced that Young Women presidents now have a direct line to the bishop.

“Young Women presidents will now report to and counsel directly with the bishop of the ward,” he said. “In the past, this assignment could be delegated to a counselor, but going forward, young women will be a direct responsibility of the one who holds presiding keys for the ward.”

The Relief Society president (the leader of all adult women) of a ward will continue to report directly to the bishop.

In addition, Young Women presidents can take a greater role in counseling with young women.

“A Young Women leader may best meet the needs of an individual young woman,” Cook explained.

Cook said Young Men presidencies will continue at the general and stake levels of Church governance. A member of each stake high council will serve as stake Young Men president. Another member of the stake high council will serve as the stake Sunday School president.

“The First Presidency and the Twelve are united in endorsing these efforts to strengthen our youth,” Nelson said Saturday afternoon. “Oh, how we love them and pray for them! They are the ‘hope of Israel, Zion’s army, children of the promised day.’ We express our complete confidence in our youth and our gratitude for them.”

Congregations around the world can implement these changes as soon as they are ready, but should have them in place by Jan. 1, 2020.

A letter from the First Presidency to Church leaders worldwide contains more detail on how these changes affect organizational structure at the ward and stake levels.

For more on the changes click here.


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