The Young Women organization has a new theme and the class names of Beehive, Mia Maid and Laurel have been retired, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon announced in the women’s session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference.
Additionally, wards will organize young women based on specific needs and circumstances rather than three specific classes, she said. All classes will be referred to by the unifying name of “Young Women” and class presidencies should be a priority for adult leaders.
These announcements add to the organizational adjustments to strengthen Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes introduced by President Russell M. Nelson and explained by Elder Quentin L. Cook in the Saturday afternoon session.
President Nelson said the adjustments are intended to help young men and young women develop their sacred personal potential.
“The First Presidency and the Twelve are united in endorsing these efforts to strengthen our youth,” he said. “Oh, how we love them and pray for them.”
Sister Cordon said, “At the heart of all we do in Young Women is our desire to help you gain unshakable faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ and a sure knowledge of your divine identity as a daughter of God.”
Young Women theme
Sister Cordon quoted the revision to the Young Women theme in her talk to the women of the Church. While some phrases from the previous theme are still included, new phrases have been added which focus on personal revelation, ministering, repentance and the temple.
The new Young Women theme states:
The theme has also been changed to first-person language. “These truths apply to you individually,” Sister Cordon said. “You are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents. You are a covenant disciple of our Savior.”
The first line of the theme, which says “I am a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny,” pulls from doctrine found in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which was presented by President Gordon B. Hinckley in the 1995 General Relief Society Meeting.
The previous Young Women theme was introduced 34 years ago in November 1985 during a special Church satellite broadcast. The attribute “virtue” was added to the Young Women theme by Sister Elaine S. Dalton, then-general president, and her counselors in November 2008.
Sister Cordon promised young women they will gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the words in the new theme as they study and ponder them.
“Understanding these truths will change the way you face challenges. Knowing your identity and purpose will help you align your will with the Savior’s,” she said.
Young Women classes
To foster unity, friendship and belonging, young women will be organized according to a ward’s specific needs, rather than three classes separated by ages 12-13, 14-15 and 16-18.
Young Women had been divided into three classes for over a century, Sister Cordon said. The new organization will allow bishops and Young Women leaders to pray about and focus on the needs of each young woman.
The new structure will look different for each ward. A ward with a small number of young women may have only one class, while wards with larger groups may have four or five classes. A ward may have a class of 10 young women ages 12-13 and a small class of young women ages 14-18.
“However your classes are organized, you young women are vital in building unity,” Sister Cordon said. “With a prayer in your heart, continue to reach out and be a force for good.”
With this new class organization, Sister Cordon explained, class names such as Beehive, Mia Maid and Laurel have been retired and all young women will be referred to as “Young Women.” This change, which will help with translation in a global Church, is intended to promote unity.
For more than 60 years, the names of Beehive, Mia Maid and Laurel have been used together to divide Young Women classes. Prior to the term Laurel, Junior Gleaner was used along with the names Beehive and Mia Maid from about 1950-1959.
Strengthened class presidencies
Sister Cordon also emphasized the vital role of class presidencies: “No matter how Young Women classes are organized, every class should have a class presidency.”
Class presidencies are vital to the work of salvation, “particularly in the areas of ministering, missionary work, activation, and temple and family history work.” This is how young women participate in the gathering of Israel, she said.
“At the heart of all we do in Young Women is our desire to help you gain unshakable faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ and a sure knowledge of your divine identity as a daughter of God.”
Adult leaders should make class presidencies a priority, leading alongside the young women as they guide and mentor them. Don’t take over for them, she cautioned. Young women are called to lead in their youth by divine design.
“Whatever the leadership experience level of a class presidency, start where they are and help them develop the skills and confidence that will bless them as leaders,” Sister Cordon said.
Sister Cordon challenged class presidencies to remember that they have been called of God and set apart with priesthood authority. “Be sensitive to and act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost. As you do so, you can serve with confidence, for you do not serve alone.”
Class presidents will also be a key part of the new ward youth council that Elder Cook announced in the Saturday afternoon session.
Of the revised theme, organization changes and strengthened class presidencies, Sister Cordon said, “I pray that the same Spirit that has guided these adjustments will guide you as you press forward on the covenant path.”
These adjustments to Young Women should be implemented by Jan. 1, 2020, — to coincide with the launch of the new Children and Youth program — or earlier if branches, wards, districts and stakes are ready.