Primary presentation shares truth

Children in almost every corner of globe show love of gospel

"Ibelong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," 10-year-old Jamie Dalton said, loud and clear.

Like many of her peers, Jamie echoed these words during sacrament meeting Sept. 23 in the American Fork 2nd Ward, American Fork Utah Stake.Church members in almost every corner of the globe will hear or have heard these words as the 1990 Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation is given in virtually every ward throughout the Church.

This year's presentation, "I Belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," is a missionary tool of sorts for the children of the Church, explained Betty Jo N. Jepsen, first counselor in the general Primary presidency and Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation adviser.

The program was written "to help children understand that the Church was established by Christ, restored by Joseph Smith and is a blessing in their lives today," she said. "It will also help give children an identity knowing that they belong to the Church."

Through songs and spoken messages, the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation gives a view of the Church in the time of Jesus Christ, how it was restored in Joseph Smith's time and its existence in present day, she said.

Even young children have learned five Articles of Faith for the program. The 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 9th Articles of Faith are repeated by the children.

"This gives them a basis for speaking to their friends about the Church," Sister Jepsen said. "It is very impressive for children of that age to have learned the Articles of Faith."

Each ward is encouraged to adapt the presentation to the abilities and numbers of children in its own Primary.

For example, almost all of the 759 children in the American Fork Utah Stake participated in sacrament meeting presentations in their wards, said Rosemarie Chipman, stake Primary president.

"The programs have such an uplifting message and so many children have an opportunity to participate. That is what is so wonderful. There are things they can say on their level."

This program has "strengthened their testimonies and makes them feel proud to belong to the Church," she said. "Our children today are facing so many trials. I feel like its imperative to have something to lift them up. This program makes it fun to belong to the Church. It makes it special."

The sacrament meeting presentation takes place only once a year, usually in September, but the presentation is written as a general guideline for the current year's focus in Primary, Sister Jepsen said.

"The purpose is not to just have a program. It's to share the principles the children learn in a year's time with other members of the ward."

Primary leaders usually receive the outline for the presentation before the beginning of the year and begin teaching the concepts during sharing time and opening exercises in January.

"This gives a worldwide direction to the children's experience in Primary. Children everywhere should be learning the same concepts and the same songs and that way it brings a continuity to Primary," Sister Jepsen said.

"Everything we do in Primary should reinforce what is happening in families – in family home evening and in family discussions of gospel principles. This is a way for families to again share in what is being taught in Primary. It gives children an opportunity to express to family and ward members the principles they have learned in that year and their feelings toward those principles."