Training for new auxiliary leaders

In conjunction with April general conference, the general auxiliary presidencies held training workshops for stake and ward auxiliary leaders March 31 through April 2 in downtown Salt Lake City.

The workshops were designed to help new leaders learn their duties and to test resource materials for worldwide priesthood and auxiliary leadership training. Following are summaries of workshops for Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary and Sunday School:

Relief Society

By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer

The Relief Society general presidency addressed concerns of new Relief Society presidencies during the auxiliary training meeting held in connection with April 2009 general conference. Meetings were held March 31 and April 1 in the Tabernacle and included instruction regarding the responsibilities of Relief Society presidencies and how they can most effectively care for their sisters.

"We have to know what business we are in," Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president said. "It is time for us as a Relief Society to get back into the salvation business."

Drawing from the purpose of Relief Society, defined as organizing, teaching and inspiring the sisters of the Church to prepare them for the blessings of eternal life, the workshop focused on how presidencies can work to accomplish that goal.

"We know what our work is," said Sister Beck. "Now we need to do as the Lord teaches and do His work in His way."

The general presidency spoke of specific ways to strengthen a presidency and members of their Relief Society units.

One of the most important parts of any calling is personal revelation. Sister Barbara Thompson, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, spoke of the importance of revelation and the Spirit guiding decisions made within a Relief Society.

"Having the Holy Spirit guide really is the best way," she said. "It is the easiest way. It is the only way."

Through scripture study, temple attendance, repentance, preparation and prayer, sisters can be guided by the Spirit. Working with the Spirit is crucial to leadership, as well as working closely with other ward leaders.

"Counsel with your priesthood leaders," Sister Thompson said. "Think how important it is to make sure you know what [the bishop's] mission is for the women in your ward. We want you to work in harmony with your bishop and your priesthood leaders."

Not only is it important to include the bishop in plans, using the resources of councils is another way to strengthen Relief Society units, the general presidency taught.

"Councils will answer all your questions," said Sister Silvia H. Allred, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency. "When you participate in councils you are invoking the powers of heaven."

Creating effective councils gives ward members the opportunity to work together in finding solutions. The key to a good council, Sister Allred said, is to remember everyone has an equal voice, to listen respectfully and to come spiritually prepared. Although everyone may not agree on every detail, councils are a place to discuss and talk through ways to strengthen and improve the ward, and minister to every member individually.

As Relief Society leaders work to strengthen the sisters in their wards, there are many ways to help individuals prepare and participate in the ordinances of salvation. This is done through ministering to every sister, the presidency taught.

Leaders were encouraged to look at the needs of the sisters, assess what needs to be done, and then go to work strengthening them. Role plays and discussions helped Relief Society leaders to apply the principle of ministering to one another.

By taking part in the salvation business, as Sister Beck called it, sisters are able to strengthen each other, and bring one another closer to Christ.

"All of us have some kind of need that will be healed as we draw closer to the Savior," Sister Beck said. "When we are strengthened and watched over, it is one-on-one."

Young Men

By Jason Swenson, Church News staff writer

Bishops and youth leaders have an essential, blessed duty to diligently teach the young men of the Church how to fulfill their duties as Aaronic Priesthood holders — and to prepare them for future Melchizedek Priesthood responsibilities.

That was the message the Young Men General Presidency and Young Men General Board members taught during an April 1 leadership training seminar at the Conference Center.

In his opening remarks, Charles W. Dahlquist II, general Young Men president, spoke of the worldwide urgency facing the deacons, teachers and priests. He offered five "points" that youth leaders can remember as they work with the Aaronic Priesthood.

  1. Stand as a proper role model for the youth.

"If we expect them to be good, then we must be good," said Brother Dahlquist.

When young men are facing temptation or difficult choices, they should be able to ask, "What would my priesthood leader do?"

  1. Teach them their duties.

Brother Dahlquist referenced Doctrine and Covenants 107: 85-87 as inspired direction on the duties of the deacons, teachers and priests. Sit in council with the young men, he said. Edify and teach them how to strengthen their fellow quorum members. Help them fulfill the requirements of the Duty to God Award.

  1. Help prepare each young man to be temple worthy and serve a full-time mission.

Brother Dahlquist encouraged youth leaders to use every tool available to young men such as Scouting and the Duty To God program. Teach them to live virtuously. Make sure every young man has a missionary experience.

  1. Help each young man reach his potential and learn to do hard things.

"They will become great and strong and true," said Brother Dahlquist. A young man who realizes his potential and can accept and meet difficult challenges will be instrumental in helping the Church grow in all corners of the world.

  1. Help the quorum president plan a balanced program to carry out each of these responsibilities.

Again, Doctrine and Covenants 107:85-87 offers a template on how young Aaronic Priesthood holders can best preside over their respective quorums.

The Young Men leadership training also provided individual workshop sessions for bishops and stake leaders and designated instruction for adult leaders who work with priests, teachers and deacons. A leadership workshop was also offered in Spanish.

Following the workshops, General Young Women President Elaine S. Dalton spoke to participants about the challenges and opportunities facing the youth of the Church. Brother Dahlquist and others also participated in an informal question-and-answer session with local youth leaders who attended the training.

Sister Elaine S. Dalton speaks during a Young Women leadership training session Thursday.
Sister Elaine S. Dalton speaks during a Young Women leadership training session Thursday. Photo: Tom Smart, Deseret News

Young Women

By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer

Young Women leaders brought questions, concerns and ideas to the Young Women auxiliary training meeting held March 31 and April 2. New leaders were given direction in how to more effectively lead during the six sessions led by the Young Women general presidency, Sister Elaine S. Dalton, president; Mary N. Cook, first counselor; and Ann M. Dibb, second counselor, held at various locations at Church headquarters.

The general presidency spoke to leaders about the importance of the new Young Women value of Virtue, and how to implement it in their activities and daily life.

"I am just so grateful for the addition of this value," Sister Dalton said. "I am so grateful for prophets, seers and revelators who knew that now is the time it is to become a value."

Leaders were encouraged to implement virtue, and help the spiritual progression of young women they are working with by teaching, ministering and helping cultivate worthiness.

"One of the most powerful tools is to minister one-on-one. The Lord will tell you exactly what to do and when to do it," Sister Dalton said. "Don't be so busy that you don't have time to be still. That will be the way you can receive personal revelation. Before you can do the Lord's work, you've got to get in a place to feel the Spirit."

She said that as leaders minister, or serve their young women, they are helping them to feel the Spirit, and understand the love their Heavenly Father has for them. Leaders were encouraged to minister by being involved in their young women's lives, and to do what they are asking their young women to do.

"You can't lead unless you are out in front," Sister Dalton said. "You cannot ask young women to do personal progress if you aren't doing it. We have got to be leaders that do the things we are asking everyone else to do."

The presidency focused on the many resources available to help leaders provide spiritual experiences for their young women. As leaders look to the tools they have already been provided, such as Church manuals, scriptures, resource guides and activities, they can cultivate spirituality within their organization.

Much of the meeting focused on the importance of activities and the spiritual impact they can have on the young women. As leaders focus on the needs of the individuals in the ward, they can plan activities that will produce the desired outcomes.

"Get them anxiously engaged in activities," Sister Dalton said. "Activities [are] where you can minister one on one."

Through participation in activities and the Personal Progress program, young women can learn leadership skills, how to serve, develop a personal identity and learn how to recognize the Spirit. Activities provide opportunities to develop relationships with their peers, friends, parents and young men. As leaders use activities as a means to develop qualities, young women are strengthened.

Young Women leaders were also encouraged to work closely with the Young Men organization, as well as all organizations of the ward, to be united in helping the youth return to virtue.

"This has helped me to realize I can become more aware of the young women around us," said Jeannie Wills, a service missionary visiting from the Solihull Ward, Birmingham England Stake. "We need to show them the beauty of being virtuous and be an example."

Leaders were encouraged to show the young women how much their Heavenly Father loves them, to know them by name, and constantly tell them how wonderful they are.

"Tell them how incredible they are, because they are," Sister Dalton said. "And no one else is telling them."

Sister Dalton spoke of why all of these experiences are important.

"You are doing a great and marvelous work," she said. "We are helping prepare every young woman to be worthy to go to the temple. Everything we do leads to the temple."


By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News assistant editor

Members of the Primary General Presidency asked stake and ward auxiliary leaders to teach by the Spirit.

"All of you are teachers," said Sister Cheryl C. Lant, Primary general president. "You are not only teaching the children ... but you also teach those you lead."

Speaking during a 2009 auxiliary new leader training meeting, held April 1-2 in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, Sister Lant asked Primary leaders to seek inspiration when teaching.

"We can pray and Heavenly Father will help us accomplish what He would have us do," said Sister Vicki F. Matsumori, second counselor in the Primary general presidency. "The way we access those blessings is through our obedience."

Sister Margaret S. Lifferth, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, said that it is important for Primary leaders and teachers to teach Church doctrine. "It is only the doctrines of Jesus Christ that have the power to save," she said.

Sister Lant said it is important to teach children from the scriptures. "The Lord works in wondrous ways when we follow what He wants us to do — to teach the children from the scriptures."

The first thing a Primary leader should do to teach by the Spirit is prepare, explained Sister Lifferth. "We prepare, then we have to trust," she said. "Are we willing when we feel those promptings to move away from our notes and the script we have prepared?"

Sister Lant said leaders may never know why they were inspired to say something or teach a certain principle. "If we are prepared, if we know our hearts are open and we are ready, then the Spirit will work with us. We may not know why. We may not know whose life we are changing or who we are teaching."

Members of the Primary General Board then modeled application of basic teaching principles to Primary leaders. They talked about sharing time, activity day and music time activities. They taught skills and methods and then talked about what leaders can do to invite the Spirit into Primary.

Primary leaders, they said, should identify the doctrines they teach, then help children understand and apply the doctrines.

"No matter our experience, we can all teach, we can all be guided, we can all pray and we can all go forward," said Sister Matsumori, quoting President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Offering advice to music leaders, members of the Primary board encouraged them to know the song they are teaching, pray for guidance and direction, use the scriptures as they teach the song, find a method of capturing the children's attention, involve the children, bear testimony, and then "sing, sing, sing."

Sister Lant praised members of the Primary General Board for the simple methods they used to teach the principles. "Their methods and visuals could be used anywhere in the world," she said, noting that many times big visuals distract children from gospel principles. "I also loved how they wove their testimony throughout the teaching process."

She closed by asking Primary leaders to teach by the Spirit and teach those they lead to do the same.

"I know this is the Church of Jesus Christ," she said. "I know that God lives and He loves us. He wants us to teach His children to build in their hearts a testimony.... That can happen only as we teach by the Spirit."

Sunday School

By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

"A Guide for Teacher Orientation" was introduced to stake and ward leaders attending the Sunday School sessions of new leader auxiliary training March 31 and April 1.

After some general instruction, attendees were separated into workshop groups where they were invited in to test resource materials for worldwide training that will be refined and then made available on the Internet.

A. Roger Merrill, Sunday School general president, cited this directive from the manual Improving Gospel Teaching: A Leader's Guide:

"Ward priesthood and auxiliary leaders meet individually with each newly called teacher in their organizations, preferably before the teacher's first class, to provide a brief orientation" (page 4).

The guideline has been in place for several years. More recently, the ward Sunday School presidency has been given direct responsibility for coordinating teacher improvement efforts in the ward. Brother Merrill made the point that one reason the position of ward teacher improvement coordinator was discontinued in 2006 is that some leaders were abdicating their role to improve teaching in their respective organizations, thinking that "someone else was doing it."

Attendees at the training meeting were asked to role play the position of a Sunday School president working with a ward council to assist members in their individual responsibilities to provide orientation and ongoing support for teachers in their organizations.

The teacher orientation guide, comprising a single tri-fold sheet, is intended to be used along with the existing Teaching Guidebook by priesthood and auxiliary leaders as they meet with each newly called teacher and discuss the principles of effective teaching.

"This orientation could be given in one or two sessions," the guide states.

The guide is divided into four sections keyed to pages in the Teaching Guidebook as follows:

  1. "Love Those You Teach," pages 4-5.
  1. "Teach by the Spirit," pages 5-6.
  1. "Teach the Doctrine," page 5.
  1. "Invite Diligent Learning," pages 6-7.

Brother Merrill said orientation of new teachers is consistent with a divine pattern. He cited the account of Moroni's visit to the Prophet Joseph Smith as recounted in Joseph Smith — History, then posed these questions:

"What can we learn from Moroni to help us when we are orienting a new teacher?"

"How did Moroni help Joseph overcome his fears?"

"How did Moroni look?" (He glowed, because he was an agent of the Lord and was filled with love and spirituality.)

"How did Moroni help prepare Joseph with a realistic view of the challenges he would face?"

"What role did the scriptures play in Moroni's orientation of Joseph Smith?"

The divine pattern is followed with newly called missionaries, who first go to the Missionary Training Center for training, and with newly called stake presidents who are oriented by Area Seventies, Brother Merrill pointed out.

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