The final months of 2020 are the ideal time to begin preparing for January, suggested the Church’s Young Women and Young Men general presidents.
“In the Philippines, people refer to September, October, November, and December as the ‘-ber months,’” explained Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon, encouraging the use of the “-ber months” to make the most of 2021.
She and Young Men General President Steven J. Lund recently addressed General Authority Seventies worldwide. They emphasized the importance of preparing for the age-group progression that now occurs in January.
“Children used to enter and progress through quorums and classes on their birthdays, but now it all happens in January. Thus, the month takes on great importance,” taught President Lund.
President Cordon added: “January signals to bishoprics, young women presidencies and other youth leaders that it is time for ordaining young men and reevaluating the organization of classes for the young women.”
In addition, January is a good time to consider changes in class and quorum presidencies.
“It is important that young men and women are called, set apart and oriented properly,” said President Lund. “A new resource is available to help bishops with this task. It is on Gospel Library, but it is buried quite deep. Once you are in Gospel Library, you first go to the tile labeled ‘Audiences.’ Then go to ‘Youth,’ then ‘Helps for Presidencies’ and finally ‘Presidency Resources.’ There you will find an orientation guide that’s wonderful along with other helpful resources.”
President Cordon also reminded how important it is for these youth presidencies to be recorded or updated in Church records.
“January can also be a time to make sure each young person is given the opportunity to obtain a limited use temple recommend and talk to leaders about if it is the right time for him or her to receive a patriarchal blessing,” she taught. “It is a lot to do so if you want it to go smoothly, start now to prepare.”
Such counsel makes “good sense,” said Bishop Iain Hunter of the Grandview Ninth Ward, Provo Utah Grandview Stake, when he learned about the new direction.
Bishop Hunter recalled that when the first group of 11-year-olds entered the youth program in 2019, he and the members of his bishopric realized that it would take some effort to make sure the new deacons all got ordained along with other young men who were advancing in the priesthood.
“However, we found everyone transitioning at the same time was easier than when young people entered on their birthdays,” he said.
The bishop likes the instruction to reevaluate class organizations in Young Women and make sure all the youth are offered the chance to receive a temple recommend and consider a patriarchal blessing.
“I also think it is wise to consider how long quorum and class presidencies have been in place and make needed adjustments all at once,” he said.
Bishop Hunter was not previously aware of the orientation resource available on the Gospel Library app. As he searched for it, he also discovered there is a sample agenda that can be used in presidency meetings, service and activities guidelines, and a service and activities planner that can be used by the youth.
“Perhaps the most useful resource for us has been the leadership lessons,” Bishop Hunter said. “Our stake leaders have encouraged us to instruct the quorum and class presidencies to hold presidency meetings weekly and go through one of the five leadership lessons each week. That has really helped the youth to feel empowered to lead out and not wait for the adults to do everything.”
The two general presidents said they realize that the January checklist will come right on the heels of tithing settlement for Bishop Hunter and other bishops and branch presidents across the Church. They also realize that in the Southern Hemisphere, it comes during a time when many families go on vacations.
“That is why we are talking about it now,” President Lund said.
Added President Cordon: “With a little advanced planning, January can be an eventful and impactful time for our youth. Remember to plan during the ‘ber’ months.
“We know that age-group advancement can make a difference in the activity level of the youth. Similarly, we know that youth who have limited-use temple recommends and patriarchal blessings are more motivated to stay strong. And we have observed that when class and quorum presidencies are called, set apart, oriented and then hold regular presidency meetings, marvelous things happen — even during a pandemic.”