Children are part of the body of Christ: What baptized Primary children can do in the Lord’s Church

Primary General President Susan H. Porter shares ways to invite baptized Primary children to keep their covenants

Baptized and confirmed Primary children are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as such, bishops, stake presidents and Primary presidencies can invite these children to more fully participate in their meetings.

Primary General President Susan H. Porter said her presidency has thought and pondered on how to help children know what it means to be a covenant child of God, as taught by President Russell M. Nelson. (See Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults with President Nelson, May 2022.)

“We have looked at the meetings that we attend — starting with sacrament meetings and stake conferences — and we have asked ourselves the question, ‘What are we doing in this meeting to nourish everyone?’” President Porter said.

Her concern is that children may feel that their job in sacrament meeting and stake conference is to be quiet so that adults can listen. But children have been invited to those meetings, where they can learn the gospel of Jesus Christ and partake of the sacrament.

Choirs of Primary children can sing in meetings, and Christ-centered Primary songs can also be sung by the congregation. In a recent sacrament meeting, a new bishop announced that the congregation would sing a Primary song because he wanted the children to know that they were a part of this Church. “You belong here,” he said. Many parents teared-up while their children beamed.

Three boys in Primary sing together.
Three Primary children sing together. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Section 29.6 of the General Handbook says any baptized Church member may offer an opening or closing prayer in a Church meeting. This includes newly baptized 8-year-old children. Baptized children can also be invited to give a talk in sacrament meeting.

A May 2024 update to the General Handbook Section makes this more clear, saying: “The bishopric selects speakers for sacrament meeting. Most often they invite ward members, including youth and children.”

President Porter shared the example of hearing a baptized Primary child speak in a sacrament meeting.

“She spoke with power, she spoke with the Spirit, and the purity of her testimony transformed that meeting,” President Porter said.

As more wards and stakes invite baptized children to participate, children will recognize that it isn’t just their parents’ meeting — the meeting is also for them.

“When children are invited to speak and pray, their own testimonies of the Savior are strengthened. They will feel part of the body of Christ and we will recognize them as such,” President Porter said. “We will see them with new eyes, having been taught by their witnesses of the Savior.”

A group of primary children play games as they wait for their parents in choir practice and other meetings prior to the start of sacrament services at the Preston Ward in Preston, England, on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023. | Brian Nicholson

Becoming leaders in Primary and lifelong covenant keepers

Primary presidencies can prayerfully consider what they can invite baptized children to do in Primary. Under the direction of the Primary presidency, baptized Primary children can announce the talks and music by following an agenda. They can be invited to learn names and stand at the door to welcome children to Primary.

Older children can minister to the younger children by sitting with them, creating friendships, teaching them new songs, helping them during the yearly Primary program and more.

President Porter said baptized children have a sacred responsibility to keep the covenants they made with their Heavenly Father. They have received the gift of the Holy Ghost and can see the needs of others in a new way.

In a social media post in January, President Porter shared five ways a Primary child can make a difference.

  1. Pray to Heavenly Father and ask, “Help me know who I can help today.”
  2. Welcome others to Primary.
  3. Sit by someone who is new and help them learn the songs.
  4. Help with Primary activities.
  5. Be a leader in your family. Ask to have family prayer or share what you learned in Primary.

She also shared more of her thoughts on the power of children to make a difference in the January issue of the Friend.

“In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul teaches that just as we need every part of our mortal bodies, every member is needed in the body of Christ,” President Porter said. “We are grateful for the opportunities that are being given to our baptized children to serve as covenant members of the Lord’s Church, becoming one with the body of Christ.”

Primary General President Susan H. Porter, Sister Amy A. Wright and Sister Tracy Y. Browning welcome children to the September 2023 Friend to Friend broadcast.
Primary General President Susan H. Porter, center, and her counselors, Sister Amy A. Wright, left, and Sister Tracy Y. Browning, right, welcome children to a Friend to Friend broadcast called “Covenants and Blessings” made available Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. | Screenshot from YouTube
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