During the second hour of worship services Sunday, all adult and youth members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the globe viewed a video about its new “Children and Youth” curriculum, which was described as “wonderful and exciting.”
Gone are goal-setting methods called “Personal Progress” and “Faith in God” for Young Women, “Duty to God” and the all-consuming Boy Scouts of America for Young Men.
In their place is an individual-based, culturally adaptable and self-determined system for helping young Latter-day Saints model their lives on Jesus and remain on the “covenant path.”
It will focus on three areas: Gospel learning, service and activities, and personal development.
The main difference between the old way and the new approach, which takes effect Jan. 1, Young Women general President Bonnie Cordon said in the video, is that the new program includes more “free agency” and more “personal revelation.”
Young members can pick what they want their “intellectual, social, spiritual and physical” goals to be, and make a plan for how to meet them — with the help of their parents and church leaders.
“Personal goals will vary according to family and circumstance,” said Relief Society general President Jean Bingham. “They can find inspired ways to adapt, while the principles remain the same.”
There still will be medallions and other items to reward young people for goals met, according to the introductory pamphlet.
Young Men and Young Women will still meet together as they “gain strength from one another,” Young Men general President Stephen Owen said in the video.
How often will they meet? Often, Cordon said, weekly when possible.
And boys and girls still will go camping, and teens still will have multiday activities such as pioneer treks and youth conferences known as FSY (For the Strength of Youth) modeled on Brigham Young University’s ever-popular but expensive and limited “Especially for Youth” (EFY).
“We will continue to have high-adventure activities for Young Men and Young Women,” Owen said. “The youth will lead the way in planning them.”
The website ChildrenandYouth.ChurchofJesusChrist.org has more information, and printed copies of the program have been shipped to congregations.
On Nov. 17, apostle Gerrit W. Gong will lead a live face-to-face event — beamed to members everywhere — to answer more questions about the new undertaking.
This is the “most exciting youth program in the history of the church,” Russell M. Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told the young people in the studio with him and those watching worldwide. “I wish I was younger and could go through this as many of you will.”
The faith announced last May that it was severing its more-than-century-old ties with the Scouts in favor of creating its own global program, a move it had been working on for a number of years.
The pending change comes on the heels of the religion’s switch to a home-centered, church-supported approach to gospel learning, unveiled when it reduced Sunday services from three hours to two hours.
Church President Russell M. Nelson opened Sunday’s video presentation by affirming his love for children and youths.
Speaking directly to them, the 95-year-old leader said they could become “part of the greatest cause on Earth — to join the Lord’s battalion and help gather Israel.”
When Nelson thinks of “their bright future,” he said, “I get excited for you.”