President Russell M. Nelson shared a special message for children and youth at the beginning of a Face to Face event on Sunday evening: “Today, you will learn how to make the most of every opportunity to foster your gospel learning. You will grow a little each day through service and activities … Keep the Savior at the center of your plans. Always ask yourself and prayerfully ask your Father in Heaven, what can I do to become more like Jesus Christ? As you do this each day, miracles will happen.”
During the Face to Face event, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and general officers explained key elements of the new Children and Youth program using questions submitted online from around the world. Elder Gong was joined by Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President; Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President; and Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President.
More changes impacting children and youth worldwide were announced—including a new theme and camp guide for young men, a new Primary song, a new Gospel Living app, and new recognition elements. Leaders encouraged youth to focus on the three components of the new program: service and activities, personal development, and gospel learning.
Service and Activities
About activities, Elder Gong said, “Real service and purposeful activities are at the heart of Children and Youth.”
Brother Owen added, “We also want you to have fun. A main purpose of activities is to enjoy our time together. This will help you build relationships that can last a lifetime.”
Concerning children and Primary leaders, Sister Jones said, “Activity Days are now called Primary activities, and they are for girls and for boys. … We hope you hold Primary activities two to four times per month if that’s possible and practical.”
Primary activities should be led by at least two women, two men, or a married couple. While boys and girls will generally meet separately, they may combine for some activities.
For the youth, quorum and class presidencies are responsible for selecting and planning activities, Sister Cordon explained. Young Women classes and Young Men quorums should continue to hold activities weekly where possible and hold combined activities regularly.
Camping and outdoor activities will continue to play important roles. Young Women camp will continue to be held annually, and young men may hold one multi-day camp and three to six other overnight activities per year. Similar to the camp guide for Young Women, a new camp guide for Aaronic Priesthood quorums will be available soon.
Beginning in May 2020, youth turning 14 and older in the U.S. and Canada will have the opportunity to attend a five-day For the Strength of Youth conferences.
“In the year youth attend FSY, their stakes will not hold stake youth conferences or trek. We do encourage holding stake or ward camps every year, where possible,” Brother Owen explained. The stake schedule for FSY conferences can be found under the FSY section on the Children and Youth website.
Elder Gong introduced personal development guidebooks for children and youth that outline a process to “Discover, Plan, Act, and Reflect.” He explained: “Setting righteous personal goals and establishing disciplined and inspired patterns will bless your whole life.”
Sister Jones urged children to start setting one goal per year in each area of growth (spiritual, social, intellectual, and physical) beginning the year they turn 8.
Young men and young women are encouraged to set at least two goals per year in each area of growth. Sister Cordon noted, “But we are not going to prescribe what your goals should be or how many you should work on at once.” For leaders and parents, she recommended: “Keep in mind that you help children and youth best when you support their efforts instead of tracking them.”
The Gospel Living app allows youth to track goals, view upcoming activities, journal thoughts and photos, listen to music, watch videos, and share messages with family, class or quorum members, and leaders. The first version of the app will be available for download in January.
The recognition elements of the new program will include the following emblems:
Children turning 4 will continue to receive a green CTR ring.
Children turning 8 will receive a picture of the temple and a ring with a CTR shield surrounding a temple symbol.
Youth turning 12 will receive a temple recommend holder.
Young men turning 12 will receive a ring that points them to the temple.
Young women turning 12 will receive a medallion and gemstone necklace.
Young men turning 18 will receive an oil vial.
Young women turning 18 will receive a pendant to add to their necklace.
When youth strive to meet personal goals and basic gospel expectations, they can earn two additional emblems shortly before completing time in Aaronic Priesthood quorums or Young Women: a certificate signed by the First Presidency and a Christus in a crystal arch.
New Children and Youth logos feature a symbol of a temple and the words “Strive to Be”—an invitation to become more like Christ. Youth worldwide can share what they are doing to grow more like Christ on Church social media accounts at StrivetoBe.
Sister Jones explained how the Church’s curriculum program, “Come, Follow Me,” is foundational to gospel learning for children and youth as they receive spiritual impressions about how they can grow.
The recent adjustment to youth curriculum to align with “Come, Follow Me” at home, in seminary, in Primary, and in Sunday School further supports the new program, Brother Owen added.
Sister Cordon invited the young women around the world to stand and recite the new Young Women theme announced during the October general conference.
Brother Owen then invited the young men to stand and recite the new Aaronic Priesthood quorum theme. He then suggested: “We hope you will begin reciting this theme when you gather in Sunday quorum meetings. We also hope you will carefully study its meaning and commit to live by its teachings and principles.”
Elder Gong pointed out that both themes focus on “acting and becoming—ministering, serving, bearing witness of Jesus Christ, and doing our best each day.”
No matter the family situation and no matter the size or location of a ward or branch, the principles of the new program can work. “We invite you to seek the Spirit of the Lord and adapt the Children and Youth program to your local needs,” Brother Owen said.
Elder Gong added, “Parents and leaders, please remember our Church curriculum, program, and organization work together. As elders quorums and Relief Societies take greater responsibility for the work of salvation, bishops, you can properly focus on each youth.”
Families then sang the new Primary song, “I Will Walk with Jesus,” which invites all to walk the covenant path with the Savior.
Wards and branches will receive the personal development guidebooks by January 2020 and the emblems of achievement and belonging by mid-2020. More information can be found on ChildrenandYouth.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.