With the desire to strengthen children and youth, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently announced changes that allow eligible 11-year-olds to complete proxy baptisms in temples beginning January of the year they turn twelve.
Two Australian Church members, Abigail Barton from Sydney and Lars Prigoone from the Gold Coast became the first 11-year-olds in the Pacific to take advantage of this new opportunity in the Brisbane Australia Temple on New Years Day. Because of its southern hemisphere location it is quite possible that these youth were the first of thousands of 11-year-olds globally to be able to attend the temple and participate due to the recent changes.
When Abigail first heard the announcement of the age changes, she quickly realised that she wouldn't need to wait to attend the temple until November when she turns 12. She and her family immediately began preparing not just for their holiday in Brisbane but for their time in the temple.
“I’m so excited to be able to attend the temple. It’s been hard for me to wait and now I can go with my family and older sister Keziah,” exclaimed Abigail.
Of the experience, Abigail’s mother Kieryn reflects, “For our family, it feels right. The girls are so close and being able to share these things is such a blessing. I like the story it tells – to quickly seek the blessings of the temple.”
In Lars Prigoone’s Ribona ward (congregation) an excursion to the Brisbane temple was also being planned for the Christmas holiday. Lars’ mother, Natalie explained, “I was so pleased he wanted to do this. Lars is so mature and strong in his faith. He gave me a big smile afterwards.”
In the letter outlining the new changes, the First Presidency announced that their desire is to "strengthen our beloved children and youth through increased faith in Jesus Christ, deeper understanding of His gospel, and greater unity with His Church and its members."
President Russell M. Nelson declared, “Our youth and children are among the best the Lord has ever sent into this world. They have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation! We must do our part to help them realise their potential.”
Though Abigail Barton and Lars Prigoone of Australia are only eleven, they are certainly setting an example of faith and wisdom beyond their years.