Why ‘ward youth council’ isn’t just a different name — it’s part of a culture change

In the October general conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, under the direction of President Russell M. Nelson, announced that the bishopric youth committee meeting will be replaced by a ward youth council

This council is another tool designed to help the bishop and the ward, while helping the youth become leaders, said Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men general president. 

Read more: What is a bishop’s no. 1 responsibility and how can members help? Here’s what Church leaders say

“This change from BYC to ward youth council isn’t just a name change. There is a shift here,” he said. “Instead of being a calendaring meeting, this is a leadership meeting. This is for the youth to step up and have opportunities to lead.”

Under the direction of the bishop, the ward youth council focuses on the work of salvation and bringing others to Jesus Christ. It is composed of the bishopric, a priests quorum assistant, the teachers and deacons quorum presidents, the Young Women class presidents and the Young Women president. 

The bishop talks and walks with a young man. As President Russell M. Nelson emphasized in the October general conference, the primary responsibility of a bishop is to care for the youth.
The bishop talks and walks with a young man. As President Russell M. Nelson emphasized in the October general conference, the primary responsibility of a bishop is to care for the youth. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc

Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, said this “revitalized council” is where the young men and young women can counsel together and coordinate their efforts in the work of salvation, just as the ward council does. “It is also a place of learning where they can grow in their leadership abilities and be even greater instruments in the hands of the Lord,” she said. 

“This is a great opportunity to ask the youth, ‘What are the needs in our ward?’ The youth will have wonderful ideas and bring a fresh perspective to the issues a ward is facing. The youth can be a great help in strengthening the families of the ward.”

Sister Cordon illustrated this principle with a story a ward Young Women president recently shared with her. The young women in this particular ward recognized there was a need to create a spirit of unity on Sundays. So, they decided to start standing at the entrance of the Church building, as well as the chapel, to hold the doors open and welcome people as they came in.

Young women walk and talk. As Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, explained, the ward youth council is a great opportunity for young women and young men to get involved and help the ward.
Young women walk and talk. As Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, explained, the ward youth council is a great opportunity for young women and young men to get involved and help the ward. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc

“What a wonderful example of helping the bishop create a feeling of unity and belonging in the ward,” Sister Cordon said. “The bishop would love to be at the door to greet each person one by one, but he can’t. So he allowed the youth to be those extra hands to create a loving, Christ-centered atmosphere.” 

This is going to be an exciting time for bishops as youth bring energy to solving problems in the ward, she said. “If we want to change the culture of the Church, allow the youth to be part of it.”