As the new year approaches, the Young Men and Young Women general presidencies have some good news: Age-group progression makes a difference.
“We used to ordain young men on their birthdays and that meant some slipped through the cracks,” said Young Men General President Steven J. Lund. “By ordaining them in groups in January of the year they turn the appropriate ages, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of young men being ordained and moving forward on the covenant path.”
Young women, added Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon, “are staying stronger as classes are being reviewed and adjusted as needed at the beginning of the year.”
Both presidents agree that age-group progression was an inspired change that is blessing many. They want to keep the positive momentum going.
To help youth continue in their progress, the two general presidencies encourage bishoprics to work closely with the ward Young Women presidency and quorum and class presidencies to do the following in January:
- Ordain all worthy young men turning 12, 14, and 16 in 2021 to the appropriate priesthood office.
- Review the organization of Young Women classes and adjust as needed to meet the needs of the young women.
- As needed, call, set apart, and orient new quorum and class presidencies. Encourage them to review the five Leadership Lessons under “Helps for Presidencies” in the “Youth” section within “Audiences” in Gospel Library.
- Make sure youth are receiving the appropriate emblems of belonging.
- Issue limited-use temple recommends to worthy youth turning 12 years of age in 2021. Renew recommends of other worthy youth, as needed. Encourage all youth to participate in the temple ordinances available to them, where possible.
- Update Church records to reflect each of these actions.
- Encourage parents and youth to discuss the blessings, importance and timing of a patriarchal blessing.
- Encourage quorum and class presidencies, ward youth councils and stake youth planning committees to begin organizing summer youth activities, as local and Church health guidelines and circumstances allow.
In wards with many youth, preparations for such changes can happen before January. Leaders may want to discuss recommendations of new presidencies and conduct interviews for new ordinations, callings and limited-use temple recommends. Then in January, they can present the youth for sustaining votes and perform all the appropriate ordinances and settings apart.
Zach Olson, stake young men president in the Salem Utah West Stake, knows the benefits of these actions.
“The youth need to know that the Church is not closed because of the pandemic,” he said. “There is still much to do.”
Olson explained the difference that youth presidency meetings and the leadership lessons in Gospel Library can make.
“Last fall we were concerned that the youth had kind of checked out because of COVID-19. We encouraged the youth presidencies to meet weekly for five weeks and review one of the leadership lessons each week. It kick-started them.”
Youth in the stake reported an increase of unity, ministering, better organization of activities and joy. “Of course, there were some things they could not do,” said Brother Olson, “but there were also lots of things they could, and did, do.”
President Lund added that general youth leaders would like what happened in the Salem Utah West Stake to be happening in stakes all across the world — and January is the key.
“For the youth and their leaders, January age-progression is good news,” said President Cordon, “It will keep the youth strong, focused and moving forward joyfully.”