Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are announcing changes to Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes that give young men and young women more opportunity for all-around growth. The Aaronic Priesthood is the lesser of two levels of priesthood in the Church and is conferred upon faithful male Latter-day Saints starting the year in which they turn 12.
“The adjustments we now announce are intended to help young men and young women develop their sacred personal potential,” President Russell M. Nelson said at the Saturday afternoon session of the Church’s 189th Semiannual General Conference. “We want also to strengthen Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes and provide support to bishops and other adult leaders as they serve the rising generation. … [A bishop’s] first and foremost responsibility is to care for the young men and young women of his ward. The bishop and his counselors direct the work of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums and the Young Women classes in the ward.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles detailed what will change for Aaronic Priesthood quorums. He also announced a change for bishops to regularly counsel with Young Women presidents.
Local Bishops to Lead and Mentor Youth; Ward Young Men Presidencies Discontinued
Young Men presidencies (adult males who lead young men) at the ward level are now discontinued so local bishops can more directly lead and mentor youth. Elder Cook said this practice aligns with a scripture on Church government given to Joseph Smith in 1835: “The bishopric is the presidency of this [Aaronic] priesthood, and holds the keys or authority of the same.” This means, Elder Cook said, that a congregation’s young men and young women should be a bishop’s highest priority.
“These adjustments will help bishops and their counselors focus on their core responsibilities to the youth and Primary children,” Elder Cook said. “[The adjustments will also] place the power and duties of the Aaronic Priesthood at the center of every young man’s personal life and goals.”
In their responsibilities with youth, bishoprics will be assisted by adult men serving as Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers and specialists and Young Women leaders.
Young Women Presidents Now Report and Counsel Directly with a Bishop
Elder Cook also announced that Young Women presidents now have a direct line to the bishop.
“Young Women presidents will now report to and counsel directly with the bishop of the ward,” he said. “In the past, this assignment could be delegated to a counselor, but going forward, young women will be a direct responsibility of the one who holds presiding keys for the ward.”
The Relief Society president (the leader of all adult women) of a ward will continue to report directly to the bishop.
In addition, Young Women presidents can take a greater role in counseling with young women. “A Young Women leader may best meet the needs of an individual young woman,” Elder Cook explained.
Elder Cook said Young Men presidencies will continue at the general and stake levels of Church governance. A member of each stake high council will serve as stake Young Men president. Another member of the stake high council will serve as the stake Sunday School president.
Additional Organizational Changes to Note
Elder Cook also mentioned additional changes, which will be included in a forthcoming letter to Church leaders worldwide:
- A congregation’s bishopric youth committee meeting will be replaced by a ward youth council.
- The word “Mutual” will be retired and become “Young Women activities,” “Aaronic Priesthood quorum activities,” or “youth activities.” These activities will be held weekly where possible.
- The ward budget for youth activities will be divided equitably between the young men and young women according to the number of youth in each organization. A sufficient amount will be provided for Primary activities.
- At all levels—ward, stake, and general—the Church will use the term “organization” rather than the term “auxiliary.” Those who lead the General Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Primary, and Sunday School organizations will be known as “General Officers.” Those who lead organizations at the ward and stake levels will be known as “ward officers” and “stake officers.”
Congregations around the world can implement these changes as soon as they are ready, but should have them in place by January 1, 2020.
“These efforts, together with those announced during the last two years, are not isolated changes,” Elder Cook said. “Each of the adjustments is an integral part of an interlocking pattern to bless the Saints and prepare them to meet God.”
Changes for young women will be announced this evening by Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, the faith’s Young Women General President. We will update this article when she speaks.