Children will share temple understanding in sacrament meeting

At the first of this year, the Kearns Utah West Stake Primary presidency videotaped children talking about the purposes of temples and why these sacred buildings are important. The presidency was surprised at the results.

"A lot of the children had confused ideas about the temple," recalled Becky Reeder, stake Primary president. "There were a few who were well taught, but they were few compared to the majority."Since then, children in that stake - and throughout the world - have been learning about temples as this year's Primary emphasis. At the end of August, Sister Reeder and her counselors again videotaped children in the stake talking about temples. This time, the surprise was pleasant.

"Many of the children had proper answers. They understood what we do in the temple," Sister Reeder said. One special part of the new video, she related, was the testimony of a mother in the stake. Because of the enthusiasm this woman's children had gained for temple blessings, she and her husband had been touched. Early this month, they went to the temple for the first time, received their endowments and were sealed with their children as a family.

Many such success stories will likely be shared throughout the Church during the 1993 Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation. This 40-minute program presented during a sacrament meeting in September or October offers children opportunities through talks and music to share with ward members what they've learned this year about temples, said Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president.

She told the Church News that the sacrament meeting presentation gives children the "opportunity of speaking and singing before the congregation. That's a wonderful experience - an experience unique in our Church.

"Another benefit for the children," she explained, "is the fact that their testimonies of the principles are reinforced as they give the presentation. As we share our testimonies, the spirit bears witness to us and strengthens our own testimonies at the same time. And the sweet spirit of children bearing witness about such significant, basic aspects of living the gospel touches the hearts of the congregation as well."

Betty Jo N. Jepsen, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, explained that the presentation on temples "is an outgrowth of the year's emphasis. It's a presentation that we hope has been gleaned from children's responses to lessons about temples given throughout the year."

And gleaning is the way to prepare for the presentation, said Sister Jepsen, who advises the general board committee that prepares the sacrament meeting presentation outline. "The Primary presidencies have had a responsibility throughout the year to gather information from the children's talks and testimonies or class responses, and then have the children in their own words teach their parents, brothers and sisters, and ward members what they've learned. The presentation is to be prepared on a child's level of understanding."

An essential aid in helping ward Primary leaders prepare for the presentation is the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation instruction outline, available at Church distribution centers. The outline explains that the presentation is under direction of the bishop.

The outline focuses on three main themes - What is the Temple? Why Do We Want to Go to the Temple? How Do We Prepare for the Blessings of the Temple? Included are scripture references and a list of songs. Suggested are such songs as "I Love to See the Temple," "Easter Hosanna," "When He Comes Again," and "The Spirit of God."

"The music tells the story," Pres. Grassli emphasized. "If someone teaches you something by just talking, you might remember 2 percent of it; if the lesson is illustrated with a story, you may remember 60 percent of it. But if you are taught through song, you will probably remember 95 percent indefinitely."

In emphasizing using the songs suggested for the presentation, Sister Jepsen added: "The music is the one unifying characteristic in the presentation. This way wards can do many things with the rest of the program and still teach the very same principles."

In referring to the speaking portions of the program, Pres. Grassli encouraged ward Primary presidencies to help the children memorize their parts. "It adds to the spirit of the whole sacrament meeting when those words are spoken with conviction over the pulpit," she said.

Speaking of positive results of the sacrament meeting presentation, Pres. Grassli noted. "Families who do not attend Church, but who have children in Primary, may come to sacrament meeting that one time for the presentation and have a message of great significance taught to them," she related. "Some of the success stories we've heard over the years are that parents have been activated because they attended the sacrament meeting presentation."

This year, many success stories have been reported to the Primary general presidency earlier than in previous years. "I don't know that we've ever had more excitement and interest generated than we have this year," Pres. Grassli explained. "Usually, we start hearing reports half way through the year. In January and February of this year, we started hearing reports about the success that children, families and leaders have experienced."

Sister Jepsen added to Pres. Grassli's comments: "We've had wonderful reports of people who are serving in Primaries throughout the world who have become aware that they needed the blessings of the temple for their families, and they are preparing their families to go or have gone to the temple."

In emphasizing the benefits of this year's Primary theme, and how the lessons are simply reinforcements of what should be taught at home, Sister Jepsen explained, "I feel that we will rear a generation of children who know more about the temple and what the temple is about in their lives than we've ever before done in the Church."

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