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LDS Church announces age changes for youth progression and ordination

By Kurt Hanson And Genelle Pugmire daily Herald - | Dec 14, 2018

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a change on Friday to when its youth advance into new age groups and classes.

As of January, children will complete Primary and begin attending Sunday School and Young Women groups or Aaronic Priesthood quorums at the beginning of January in the year they turn 12.

Young men will be eligible for ordination to the appropriate priesthood office in January of the year they turn 12, 14, and 16, meaning 11-year-old young men can be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood. Ordained young men and young women will be eligible for limited-use temple recommends beginning in January of the year they turn 12.

Young women and young men will progress between classes at the beginning of January in the year they turn 14 and 16.

“We desire to strengthen our beloved children and youth through increased faith in Jesus Christ, deeper understanding of His gospel, and greater unity with His Church and its members,” reads a letter from the First Presidency of the church.

This age change will also change the look of Primary as the Valiant 11 class will be discontinued. Also 7-year-old girls in the U.S. and 7-year-old girls and boys in other countries will not be included in Activity Days program beginning in January of the year they turn 8.

Several questions that may arise from parents and leaders include questions of when certain activities are age appropriate.

According to the church instructions, “Generally, youth in a class or quorum may enjoy the privileges that are appropriate for that class or quorum. With their parents’ approval, Beehives and deacons may attend camps before their 12th birthdays. Likewise, Mia Maids and teachers may attend dances and youth conferences before their 14th birthdays. However, a young woman or young man should be at least age 16 before beginning to date.”

All Mia Maids and teachers may be invited to participate in ministering and may have ministering assignments. They need not wait for their 14th birthdays as well. With changes in the church’s connection to the Boy Scouts of America and its new initiative for children and youth in 2020, progression in Cub Scouting and 11-year-old Scouts remains much the same. Boys may continue to join Cub Scouts and 11-year-old Scouts and to progress between dens on their birthdays. However, according to the new church policy, when they move from Primary to Aaronic Priesthood quorums, they leave 11-year-old Scouting and participate in Scouting with the deacons quorum.

Activity Days provides children with opportunities to interact with each other and have wholesome fun in physical, creative, cultural and service activities according to the church description. Activity days gives children the opportunity to put into action the principles they have been taught during Sunday Primary and in their homes.

Young boys progress through three of the four offices of the Aaronic Priesthood. The youngest boys are deacons, then teachers and priests. The bishop is the fourth office of that Priesthood, although the bishop is a high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Those who have the Aaronic Priesthood, in this case the priests, prepare and offer the sacrament (communion) to church members during Sunday worship services, teachers and deacons pass the sacrament and help visit members in their homes, collect contributions for the poor and perform other service duties. The name of the Aaronic Priesthood comes from Aaron, brother of Moses, in the Old Testament.

Children ages 8 through 11 set personal goals in Faith in God guidebooks to help them live gospel principles, develop testimonies and build friendships. This also helps to prepare them to enter the Young Men and Young Women programs at the age of 12.

Age changes are not new. Prior to 1908, there was no age specified for youth programs and ordinations, youth and priesthood ordinations were typically between ages 9-19. Prior to 1877, ordinations had no age specification, but was mostly men and some boys ages 8 and up. Ages were set for deacons, teachers and priests up to age 21 in 1908. By 2012, deacons were ages 12-13, teachers 14-15, and priests 16-18. According to church information, this is not a change in doctrine because Priesthood ordination has throughout the church’s history has not been determined by age, but worthiness and church membership.

The First Presidency has requested the letter announcing this change be read in the church’s sacrament meetings prior to the new year.


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