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142 years ago, the first Primary meeting was held. Here’s some of what’s changed since then

In 1878, Aurelia Spencer Rogers spoke with then-Relief Society General President Eliza R. Snow about a need she saw among the children of the Church—structure and some supervision.

President Snow supported Sister Rogers’s idea for creating a place for young children to gather, and on August 25, 1878, around 225 children met in the Farmington Rock Chapel, singing, learning, and participating in activities, according to Church News.

Today, on the 142nd anniversary of that first meeting, Primary General President Joy D. Jones shared a post on Facebook about a visit she recently took with the Primary General Presidency to that Farmington Rock Chapel where the first Primary meeting was held.

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“One fun detail we noticed was that the door handle to enter the building is remarkably low,” President Jones wrote. “This made it easy for children to enter the building for Primary on their own. Although children in 2020 cannot meet as a group to celebrate Primary’s birthday this year, I feel that we can learn something from that first day of Primary and the placement of the door handles: to be aware of the needs of children and design experiences to meet their needs. No matter our circumstances, we can all love and strengthen children and their families both in Primary and out.”

On the anniversary of the Primary’s first meeting, the Church History Website published a new post about the top five reference questions about Primary. Listed in the post are some of the changes that have happened to the Primary organization over the years including:

  • • The original Primary organization wasn’t focused on religious education. Instead it was designed to teach manners, early childhood education, and host activities. The junior Sunday School took responsibility for children’s religious education until 1929.
  • • The organization was originally for youth up to age 14. It wasn’t until 1925 and 1934 that boys and girls, respectively, advanced into the Young Men and Young Women organization when they turned 12 years old. In 2018, this changed so Primary children who turn 12 during a given year may advance in January of that year.
  • • Primary children received a bandlo, or a necklace made of felt, which was used to display accomplishments. The boys participated in Trail Builder activities and the girls participated in Home Builder activities.

Read more at History.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

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Lead image: Facebook 
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Lindsey Williams

Lindsey Williams joined the LDS Living team with a passion to find the stories that matter most. Previous stops in her career include BYU-Pathway Worldwide, the Special Projects Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Utah Valley Magazine. When she's not searching for stories to write, the Colorado Springs native is most likely on a hiking trail. 

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