Some areas to establish gathering places for YSAs, participate in pilot test

Continuing the Church’s emphasis on strengthening single adults, the First Presidency has given approval for areas to establish gathering places for young single adults based on local needs.

“Area presidencies and stake presidencies may begin discussing and seeking approval for gathering places in response to the needs of their members,” stated a May 6 notice from the Church’s Priesthood and Family Department. 

A limited number of stakes have also been approved to participate in a pilot test of young single adult initiatives in 2021.

What is a ‘gathering place’?

A gathering place is a designated location in an existing Church facility — such as a meetinghouse or institute building — where young single adults and their friends can gather for some or all of the following:

  • Religious education and gospel learning (including institute)
  • Service and social activities
  • Temple and family history activities
  • Self-reliance, education opportunities and support groups
  • Missionary and community-outreach activities
  • Other Church programs

All gathering places must be approved by the area presidency and overseen by stake presidents and bishops, according to the notice. 

Young adults gather for a devotional given by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Tempe Arizona Institute of Religion on Oct. 20, 2019.
Young adults gather for a devotional given by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Tempe Arizona Institute of Religion on Oct. 20, 2019. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Pilot test

The purpose of the pilot test of young single adult initiatives is to “explore additional ways to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ, encourage belonging and meet needs.” 

Area presidencies who have been invited to be in the pilot test will identify participating stakes. 

“At this time, young single adults and their leaders should follow all guidelines published in the General Handbook,” the notice stated. “They should wait until notified of their inclusion in the pilot before implementing new initiatives.”

Doctrinal principles

Leaders are encouraged to reinforce the five doctrinal principles taught by President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, during his April 2021 general conference address:

  1. Scriptures and latter-day prophets confirm that everyone who is faithful in keeping gospel covenants will have the opportunity for exaltation.
  2. The precise time and manner in which the blessings of exaltation are bestowed have not all been revealed, but they are nonetheless assured.
  3. Waiting upon the Lord implies continued obedience and spiritual progress toward Him.
  4. God offers eternal life to all of His children.
  5. Confidence in these assurances is rooted in faith in Jesus Christ, by whose grace all things pertaining to mortality are set right.

The notice also encouraged leaders to consider updated policies related to callings for single members. 

On March 31, the update to the General Handbook included an expansion of callings that can be held by members in young single adult and single adult units. Among these updates are that single women 30 and younger can be called as YSA stake Relief Society presidents and counselors, and single men can serve as counselors in YSA stake presidencies, bishoprics and branch presidencies and as high councilors and stake Sunday School presidents and counselors.

Speaking of the changes to sections 37.2.2, 37.3.2 and 37.5.2 of the handbook, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told Newsroom: “In recent months, our minds have been drawn with particular focus to Latter-day Saints who are single adults. We want you to know that you are loved — and so very needed in building the kingdom of God. For this reason, we felt to search carefully for policies and misperceptions that might limit the Church service of single members. What we found was that Church policy already allows for broad service by single adults — and it could be even broader.”

On April 22, the Church released a new infographic to assist leaders as they strive to better understand and involve single Latter-day Saints. The infographic highlights what young single adults need, why they struggle and ideas from YSAs on how to help them.