The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced changes to its youth programs for both Young Men's and Young Women's organizations.
President Russell M. Nelson announced changes during the Saturday afternoon session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of the church. Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the church's Quorum of the Twelve, spoke on the changes Saturday afternoon and Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women's General President, announced the changes in Saturday evening's Women's Session.
The Young Women's program will have a new theme, which is typically recited by Young Women in the program around the world in their classes.
The new theme states: "I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to become like Him. I seek and act upon personal revelation and minister to others in His holy name. I will stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places. As I strive to qualify for exaltation, I cherish the gift of repentance and seek to improve each day. With faith, I will strengthen my home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, and receive the ordinances and blessings of the holy temple."
The Young Women's theme was originally released in November 1985 and has undergone periodic changes since that time.
The church's Young Women's program will also see changes to the organization of classes, Cordon said, depending on the needs of the ward.
For Young Men, the announcement was made Saturday afternoon that bishoprics would directly oversee the Young Men's program, and that the presidencies of those groups would be dissolved.
Elder Quentin L. Cook explained the adjustments, saying that these changes align the church's practice with Doctrine and Covenants 107:15, which reads, “The bishopric is the presidency of this [Aaronic] priesthood, and holds the keys or authority of the same.”
The announcement stated that all Young Men's presidencies would be released.
“These adjustments will help bishops and their counselors focus on their core responsibilities to the youth and Primary children,” Elder 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.”
One of the scriptural duties of the bishop is to preside over the priests and to sit in council with them, teaching them the duties of their office, Cook said. In addition, the first counselor in the bishopric will have specific responsibility for teachers and the second counselor for deacons.
"Capable adult Young Men advisers will be called to assist the Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies and the bishopric in their duties," Cook said. "We are confident that more young men and young women will rise to the challenge and stay on the covenant path with this laser-like focus on our youth."
Young Women presidencies will still be in place, and, according to the new announcement, will now report directly to the bishop.
At the general and stake levels, the church will continue to have Young Men presidencies. At the stake level, a high councilor will be the Young Men president and will, with the high councilors assigned to Young Women and Primary, be part of the stake Aaronic Priesthood-Young Women Committee.
The changes are to be in place before Jan 1, 2020.
Elder Cook also mentioned additional changes, including:
- A congregation’s bishopric youth committee meeting will be replaced by a ward youth council.
- The word “Mutual” will be retired and become “Young Women activities,” “Aaronic Priesthood quorum activities,” or “youth activities.” These activities will be held weekly where possible.
- The ward budget for youth activities will be divided equitably between the young men and young women according to the number of youth in each organization. A sufficient amount will be provided for Primary activities.
- At all levels—ward, stake, and general—the Church will use the term “organization” rather than the term “auxiliary.” Those who lead the General Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Primary, and Sunday School organizations will be known as “General Officers.” Those who lead organizations at the ward and stake levels will be known as “ward officers” and “stake officers.”