If you are like us, you likely had a lot of questions regarding the many changes that were announced during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference. In an effort to better understand the changes, we have tried to break the announced adjustments down into questions and answers. We hope this will be helpful to you as we seek to implement the adjustments and sustain our Church leaders.
Note: For information on the changes made to the Young Women organization that were announced during the women's session of general conference on Saturday night, including a new theme and changes to class structures, click here.
Q: Who do these adjustments affect?
A: Leaders and youth in the Young Women and Young Men organizations will experience these adjustments. The adjustments will also impact the callings of the bishop and his counselors as “a congregation’s young men and young women should be a bishop’s highest priority.” Additionally, it was announced that a member of each stake high council will now serve as stake Young Men president while another member of the stake high council will serve as the stake Sunday School president.
Q: How do these changes affect the calling of a bishop?
A: Since the beginning of the Church, the bishopric has served as the presidency of the Aaronic priesthood, but the bishop will now replace the role of Young Men presidencies at the ward level in an effort to more directly lead and mentor youth. “Young Women presidents will now report to and counsel directly with the bishop of the ward,” Elder Quentin L. Cook explained. “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.”
Q: How do these adjustments change the calling of a ward Young Women president?
A: In addition to reporting directly to the bishop of the ward, Young Women presidents will now have a more significant role in counseling with young women. “A Young Women leader may best meet the needs of an individual young woman,” Elder Cook said before elaborating further.“That doesn’t mean a young woman cannot or should not talk to the bishop or to her parents,” he said. “Their focus is the youth! But it does mean that a Young Women leader may best meet the needs of an individual young woman. The bishopric is as concerned for young women as for young men, but we recognize the strength that comes from having strong, engaged, and focused Young Women leaders who love and mentor, not taking over the roles of class presidencies, but helping youth succeed in those roles.”
Q: How do the adjustments affect ward Young Men presidents?
A: Ward Young Men presidencies are now discontinued.
Q: How do these adjustments change our vocabulary as members of the Church?
• The term “organization” will replace “auxiliary” at all levels.
• “Those who lead the General Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Primary, and Sunday School organizations will be known as ‘general offiicers.’ Those who lead organizations at the ward and stake levels will be known as ‘ward officers’ and ‘stake officers’ instead of auxiliary leaders.
• “The word ‘Mutual’ will be retired and become ‘Young Women activities,’ ‘Aaronic priesthood quorum activities,’ or ‘youth activities,’” the Church’s press release said.
Q: When will these changes go into effect?
A: While it was stated that Young Men presidencies are now discontinued, it was also stated that “congregations around the world can implement these changes as soon as they are ready, but should have them in place by January 1, 2020.”
Q: How will stake callings be affected?
Q: Which responsibilities can a bishop delegate?
A: As the presiding high priest of the ward, “the bishop cannot delegate some responsibilities, such as the youth, being a common judge, caring for those in need, and overseeing finances and temporal affairs,” Elder Quentin L. Cook explained. The Young Women president will now report directly to the bishop. This responsibility cannot be delegated to a counselor. This was previously taught by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in April 2018 when he explained that the bishop cannot delegate the following responsibilities:
• Presiding over the Aaronic Priesthood quorums
• Presiding over the Young Women
• Being a common judge
• Watching over the finances and temporal affairs of the Church
• Caring for the poor and needy
Responsibilities that can be delegated include:
• Temple and family history work
• Quality of teaching in the ward
• Watching over and ministering to members of the Church
Q: How does this affect Relief Society and elder's quorum presidents?
A: Relief Society and Elder’s Quorum presidents will still report directly to the bishop. However, it was emphasized that a Relief Society president or an elder’s quorum president may be assigned to “take a greater role in counseling with adults—as can a Young Women president in counseling with young women. While only the bishop can serve as a common judge, these other leaders are also entitled to revelation from heaven to help with challenges that do not require a common judge or involve abuse of any kind.”
Q: Why are these changes being made?
A: “The adjustments we now announce are intended to help young men and young women develop their sacred personal potential. We want also to strengthen Aaronic priesthood quorums and Young Women classes and provide support to bishops and other adult leaders are they serve the rising generation,” said President Russell M. Nelson.“Our youth live in an exciting but also challenging times. The choices available have never been more dramatic. One example: the modern smartphone provides access to incredibly important and uplifting information, including family history and the holy scriptures. On the other hand, it contains foolishness, immorality, and evil not readily available in the past. To help our youth navigate this maze of choices, the Church has prepared three profound and comprehensive initiatives,” explained Elder Quentin L. Cook. "First, curriculum has been strengthened and expanded to the home. Second, a children and youth program that includes exciting activities and personal development was presented just last Sunday by President Nelson, President Ballard, and the General Officers. A third initiative is organizational changes to make youth a more significant focus of our bishops and other leaders."
He went on to say, “These adjustments will help bishops and their counselors focus on their core responsibilities to the youth and Primary children. [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.”
He concluded, “These adjustments, when combined and integrated with previous adjustments, represent a spiritual and organizational effort consistent with doctrine to bless and strengthen every man, woman, youth, and child, helping each to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, as we progress on the covenant path."