Despite a world of disasters and spiritual confusion, children can learn that Heavenly Father has a plan for them a plan that can bless them and guide them through life.
And that is just what Primary children throughout the Church are learning in 2005 and what the Primary general presidency hopes will be emphasized in the homes of Latter-day Saint families.
The Church News met with Primary General President Coleen K. Menlove and her counselors, Sydney S. Reynolds and Gayle M. Clegg, to discuss the theme for the 2005 Outline For Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation: "I Will Follow God's Plan for Me." The presidency expressed the hope that this year's theme will carry from the Primary class into the homes and lives of children and vice versa.
"I think this is an opportunity for children to begin to understand how much their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them and that Heavenly Father has a plan for them," Sister Menlove said, sitting with her counselors in her office in the Relief Society Building. She said she hopes that children will better come to understand "who they are and who they can become and to understand their Savior, Jesus Christ, and His role within the plan."
"It makes all the difference for the choices they make throughout their lives, if they understand this plan," she added.
The presidency emphasized the "Message to Primary Presidencies" found on page 1 of the outline, which includes the sentence, "This year we have a wonderful opportunity to help all of God's children understand that true joy in this life and in the next comes from following Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness."
The 2005 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation includes not only monthly themes, Sharing Time ideas and suggestions from the Children's Songbook, but also a glossary to help teachers and children "understand correct terms and doctrine." For example, under the term "agency," is the directive: "Use the term agency rather than free agency to describe our freedom to choose. Agency is the term used in the scriptures (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:36; Moses 7:32)."
Teaching the principles found in the outline, whether in class or in the home, the presidency said, can help children in a world of confusion and disaster. Children can learn, said Sister Menlove, "that Heavenly Father loves them and He provided a way for them to return and if they'll follow this plan that a loving Heavenly Father has provided they truly can find happiness and they won't be distracted by the noises of the world because they know for themselves where they are going and who they can become and who they can trust."
"True joy in this life and in the next comes from following this plan," Sister Reynolds added.
And, Sister Clegg continued, "(The plan) blesses their families that they're in and the families they hope to have. I think that's so important."
For examples, the presidency pointed out various principles taught in the outline and the resulting blessings. Under the August theme, "The Holy Ghost is a gift from Heavenly Father," is the weekly theme, "I can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. My life is blessed as I recognize and follow His promptings." Various scriptures are suggested with this weekly theme, as well as a lesson from the family home evening manual.
Speaking of the August theme, Sister Clegg said that as children see their parents, leaders and teachers enjoying the gift of the Holy Ghost and demonstrating the happiness that the gospel can bring, "They say, 'That's for me.' "
As in years past, the presidency hopes that during the sacrament meeting presentation, scheduled in wards and branches during the fourth quarter of the year, children will have an opportunity to share what they've learned in their own words or experiences. In addition, Sister Menlove and her counselors hopes families will obtain their own copies of the 2005 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation for use in the home. (They can be obtained at Church distribution centers. It is not the responsibility of ward and branch Primary presidencies to provide individual copies to families.)
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