We are familiar with lyrics from the song from the Children’s Songbook: “I Belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know who I am. I know God’s plan. I’ll follow Him in faith.” The Savior’s invitation to follow Him is an invitation to all — not only to come unto Him but also to belong to His Church, His great eternal family.
When young women participate in the Children and Youth program, they learn to build faith in Jesus Christ, progress along His covenant path and face life’s challenges with faith. The emblems of belonging associated with this program are powerful reminders to focus on the Savior.
The young women each receive a beautiful temple medallion necklace, an emblem of belonging that symbolizes our focus on the Lord’s work: the work of salvation and exaltation. The image of the temple is a reminder of our personal efforts to live the gospel, which always lead us to the temple. It also reminds us of President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation to help to help gather Israel: “Anytime you do anything that helps anyone … take a step toward making covenants with God, … you are helping to gather Israel.”
We especially love the necklace’s bright crystal that reminds us to seek light and share light — the Savior’s light — with others. Through kindness and sharing we can help people come closer to Jesus Christ. What a beautiful blessing for us to be a part of this great work.
Mei Koyama, 17, and Hikari Nagata, 17, from the Okayama Japan Stake in the Yonago Ward, cherish wearing their Young Women necklaces. They said, “When we wear our necklaces it reminds us to think about the temple. When we are going through a trial, we feel like we have the love and support from other young women who have the same values and that makes us feel like we belong. The crystal gemstone reminds us to always be as pure and as beautiful as it is.”
When asked what they say to someone who asks about their necklaces, they respond, “We love the temple, it is a place of worship, a place of peace where families are sealed together forever.” Mei and Hikari understand the beauty of being an example to those around them, which direction they are going and to feel the Savior’s love through living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We hope every time a young woman wears her medallion, she will be reminded of her divine worth, her eternal purpose and her role in the work of the Lord. Young women have been extraordinary at accepting President Nelson’s invitation to help gather Israel. Each precious daughter is marvelous, and each is needed.
The Children and Youth emblems of belonging were introduced in 2020. Each young woman entering the Young Women program receives a temple recommend holder from her bishop. She also receives a medallion from her class presidency. Young women turning 18 receive another emblem of belonging: a beautiful pendant etched with a temple steeple.
Youth can also receive an emblem of achievement — the Children and Youth crystal — which contains a beautiful image of the Savior and a certificate signed by the First Presidency. The emblems of achievement are a culminating celebration of an individual’s development by striving to become more like the Savior.
To receive the emblems of achievement, youth need to study the scriptures and pray daily, be worthy of a limited-use temple recommend, participate in Sabbath meetings and seminary, work on goals in each area of growth and serve others. Ideally, young women receive these emblems when they graduate from secondary school, as they prepare to enter Relief Society, or before they move away from home, if that occurs earlier than age 18. She (with parents if desired) has the opportunity to meet with the bishop to discuss her progress.
Mosiah 18:8 invites all “to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people.” The feelings of safety and the peace of belonging brings happiness. It gives us a sense of direction. We need the gospel compass to remind us of who we are and where we want to go. The Children and Youth program can help us in this journey of understanding and help us find a place of belonging.
When Jesus invited his disciples to partake of the emblems of his body and blood (3 Nephi 18:3-5), they were “filled” — filled with the spirit of heaven, filled with the spirit of hope, filled with more certain knowledge of who they really were — “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” That same spirit bears witness to us yet that we are the “children of God” (Romans 8:6-17).
As we are a part of this great work, we bear testimony that, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can learn who we are and how to follow His plan. The emblems of belonging remind each young woman to live the gospel, share her beliefs and to invite others to follow the Savior.