Latter-day Saints are testing program that will replace Scouting

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will say goodbye to Scouting and hello to a new global program for children and youths next year.

Details of the initiative have not been released, but the Utah-based faith posted a video and news release Monday stating that work on the program is “moving forward” and noting that it is “being tested in locations around the world.”

“It kind of brings every aspect to be more spiritual and closer to Heavenly Father,” Meribelle Long, a girl who has been participating in the initiative, said in the video. “We can bring school activities or other activities — sports, art classes, music — it kind of ties it all together.”

The program, the release explained, is designed to let local leaders and families customize their activities, service opportunities, camps and other outdoor endeavors to meet the needs of children and youths.

Apostle Ronald A. Rasband said the undertaking is going to be “an exciting, wonderful enhancement to everything we have done before.”

“This new initiative is not only going to point them all to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s going to give opportunities for large gatherings and personal development through goals and achievement of goals,” he said. “... As the church continues to grow and the world continues to change, the time is right for a simplified, personalized approach to helping children and youth.”

The worldwide program will serve millions of young Latter-day Saints, replacing the Boy Scouts of America, Personal Progress, Duty to God and Faith in God — all of which have been longtime church staples.

The faith announced last May that it was severing its more-than-century-old ties with the Boy Scouts of America in favor of creating its own global program, a move it had been working on for a number of years.

Monday’s release said details about the new initiative “will be shared at ChildrenAndYouth.ChurchofJesusChrist.org as the implementation date approaches.”

The pending change comes on the heels of the faith’s switch to a home-centered, church-supported approach to gospel learning, unveiled when it reduced Sunday services from three hours to two hours.