New LDS Children and Youth Initiative 03

Young women in Ohio cook together as part of the new LDS program for children and youth.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced several changes pertaining to the new Children and Youth Program during a live broadcast for members ages 8 to 18 Sunday, held on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

The announcements included a new Aaronic Priesthood theme, a new app for children and youth, new emblems to recognize progress, the 2020 youth theme and song, a new primary song and a new children and youth website.

While the Young Women received an updated theme during the recent General Conference, the Young Men general president introduced a new priesthood quorum theme during the broadcast.

The Gospel Living app for children and youth is comprised of four main sections: Discover, which contains uplifting music, memes, messages and other content; Today, which helps users progress towards goals; My Life, which is a digital journal; and Circles, which leaders described as a safe group messaging feature that connects you with family, class members and leaders. The first version of the app will begin rolling out in January.

Church leaders also introduced a new set of emblems to be used to recognize belonging and achievements for children and youth.

At the age of 8, children will receive a picture of a temple and a ring sporting a temple encased in the shape of classic church CTR rings. At age 12, youth will receive a temple recommend holder; young women will receive a medallion and a jewel on a necklace, and young men will receive a ring. At age 18, young women will receive a pendant to add to their necklace, and young men will receive a vial for consecrated oil.

As for emblems recognizing progress in goals, youth can earn a crystal block containing a Christus and a certificate signed by the First Presidency. Youth will regularly meet with their ward’s bishop to go over their progress with their goals.

All the new emblems will be available mid-2020, leaders said during the broadcast.

The Youth also have a new general emblem of a temple graphic with the words “strive to be.” The church’s youth instagram account’s name will also change to @strivetobe.

The youth theme for next year is “Go and do,” based off a scripture from the Book of Mormon. Each year’s theme is accompanied by a related song, and the 2020 song was performed during the broadcast by surprise guest, David Archuleta.

After singing, Archuleta shared a personal experience from when he was 12 years old when a Young Men leader invited him to read the Book of Mormon.

The broadcast also introduced a new primary song, which included the lyrics, “I will walk with Jesus, and he will walk with me.”

The children and youth website, http://childrenandyouth.churchofjesuschrist.com, has activities and service ideas for family, children and youth as they progress through the program, among other information.

The update program, as previously announced, begins in January. Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, described the program as an exciting and unique change that will invite children and youth to participate fully in gospel work.

The program will be “fun, happy, meaningful, and full of faith and conversion on the Lord’s covenant path,” Gong said.

The program focuses on setting goals within four areas: social, physical, spiritual and intellectual. As opposed to more structured youth and children programs in the past, the church aims to make things more personalized. “We now have the freedom to choose,” a youth member said in a video played during the broadcast.

“I hope you can tell how very important you are to your Heavenly Father,” said the church’s president, Russel M. Nelson, in a pre-recorded message during the live broadcast. “He has inspired many changes in the church. Many of them have to do with you.”

Church leaders also answered questions from youth about activities, including camp and For the Strength of Youth Conferences, or FSY.

The youth of the church will continue to have the opportunity to go on one multi-day camp a year, along with other overnight camps. A new camp guide for young men is coming soon, said Stephen W. Owen, the church’s Young Men general president.

FSY, which is replacing EFY in the United States and Canada, is five days long and brings together large groups of youth for classes, devotionals, study, dances, variety shows and other activities.

Beginning in May, 300 stakes will begin attending FSY conferences in the U.S. and Canada (versions of FSY is already being implemented in other countries). Youth may attend beginning the year you turn 14.

Wards will call young single adults as councilors for FSY.