Ward Young Men presidencies discontinued, other organizational changes for youth announced

Young Men presidencies at the ward level will be discontinued by January 2020, allowing bishoprics to give greater emphasis and focus on the priesthood responsibilities of young men and help them in their quorum duties, Church leaders announced Saturday afternoon.

The adjustment — and other organizational changes for youth detailed during the 189th Semiannual General Conference — “are intended to help young men and young women develop their sacred personal potential,” said President Russell M. Nelson. “We also want to strengthen Aaronic priesthood quorums and Young Women classes and provide support to bishops and other adult leaders as they serve this rising generation.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also said the adjustments are intended to strengthen children and youth. Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, will discuss changes impacting young women in the women’s session of general conference.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints salutes general authorities upon entering the Conference Center prior to the Saturday morning session of the faith's 189th Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints salutes general authorities upon entering the Conference Center prior to the Saturday morning session of the faith’s 189th Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.

One purpose for the changes impacting young men is “to strengthen Aaronic Priesthood holders, quorums, and quorum presidencies,” said Elder Cook. “These changes align our practice with Doctrine and Covenants 107:15, which reads, ‘The bishopric is the presidency of this (Aaronic) priesthood, and holds the keys or authority of the same.’”

In addition to the discontinuation of ward Young Men presidencies, Elder Cook announced:

  • At the general and stake levels, the Church will continue to have Young Men presidencies. At the stake level, a high councilor will be the Young Men president and will, with the high councilors assigned to Young Women and Primary, be part of the stake Aaronic Priesthood — Young Women Committee. A high councilor will also serve as stake Sunday School president.
  • Young Men advisers will be called at the ward level to assist the Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies and the bishopric in their duties.
  • The bishopric youth committee meeting will be replaced by a ward youth council.
  • The word “Mutual” will be retired and become “Young Women activities,” “Aaronic Priesthood quorum activities,” or “youth activities” and will be held weekly where possible.
  • The ward budget for youth activities will be divided equitably between the Young Men and Young Women according to the number of youth in each organization. A sufficient amount will be provided for Primary activities.
  • At all levels — ward, stake and general — the term “organization” replaces the term “auxiliary.” Those who lead the Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Primary and Sunday School general organizations will be known as “general officers.” Those who lead organizations at the ward and stake levels will be known as “ward officers” and “stake officers.”
  • Ward Young Women presidents will now report to and counsel directly with the bishop of the ward. In the past, this assignment could be delegated to a counselor.

The adjustments can begin as soon as branches, wards, districts, and stakes are ready, but no later than Jan. 1, 2020.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I promise and testify that these comprehensive adjustments, under the direction of an inspired president and prophet, Russell M. Nelson, will empower and strengthen every member of the Church,” said Elder Cook. “Our youth will develop greater faith in the Savior, be protected from the temptations of the adversary, and stand prepared to meet life’s challenges.”

Conferencegoers sing along with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the Saturday morning session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.
Conferencegoers sing along with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the Saturday morning session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

These efforts are not isolated changes, he said. 

The changes are part of other “profound and comprehensive” initiatives — including the strengthening of curriculum and its expansion to the home, as well as a children and youth program that includes “exciting activities and personal development” — to help Latter-day Saint youth navigate a maze of choices.

“Each of the adjustments is an integral part of an interlocking pattern to bless the Saints and prepare them to meet God,” said Elder Cook. 

As part of the pattern, the youth are being asked to take more individual responsibility at younger ages — without parents and leaders taking over what youth can do for themselves.

Bishops have scriptural duties to preside over the priests and to sit in council with them, teaching them the duties of their office (Doctrine and Covenants 107:87–88), Elder Cook said. In addition, the first counselor in the bishopric will have specific responsibility for teachers and the second counselor for deacons. 

“It is our hope that bishoprics will give great emphasis and focus to the priesthood responsibilities of young men and help them in their quorum duties,” he said, noting they will be assisted by Young Men advisers. “We are confident that more young men and young women will rise to the challenge and stay on the covenant path with this laser-like focus on our youth.”

“We are confident that more young men and young women will rise to the challenge and stay on the covenant path with this laser-like focus on our youth.”

In the Lord’s inspired pattern, the bishop has responsibility for everyone in the ward, said Elder Cook. 

These adjustments will:

  • Help bishops and their counselors focus on their core responsibilities to the youth and Primary children.
  • Place the power and duties of the Aaronic Priesthood at the center of every young man’s personal life and goals. Emphasize the responsibilities of Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies and their direct reporting line to the bishopric.
  • Motivate adult leaders to assist and mentor Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies in magnifying the power and authority of their office.

These adjustments do not lessen the bishoprics’ responsibility for young women, Elder Cook said.  

To aid bishops in this, elders quorums and Relief Societies — under the bishop’s direction — will help shoulder important responsibilities that previously consumed much of his time. Those responsibilities include ministering, missionary work and temple and family history work.

“The bishop cannot delegate some responsibilities, such as the youth, being a common judge, caring for those in need, and overseeing finances and temporal affairs,” Elder Cook taught.  “These are, however, fewer than we may have understood in the past.” 

For example, a Relief Society president and an elders quorum president, as assigned, can take a greater role in counseling with adults, just as a Young Women president can in counseling with young women. 

“While only the bishop can serve as a common judge, these other leaders are entitled to revelation from heaven to help with challenges that do not require a common judge or involve abuse of any kind,” Elder Cook said.  

These adjustments, “when combined and integrated with previous adjustments, represent a spiritual and organizational effort consistent with doctrine to bless and strengthen every man, woman, youth, and child, helping each to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, as we progress on the covenant path,” he said.

Julie Beck sings with other conferencegoers during the Saturday morning session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.
Julie Beck sings with other conferencegoers during the Saturday morning session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The First Presidency and the Twelve, President Nelson said, “are united in endorsing these efforts to strengthen our youth. Oh, how we love them and pray for them. … We express our complete confidence in our youth and our gratitude for them.”