The First Presidency requested that stake presidents “achieve better accountability for young single adults residing in their units. Efforts should be made to identify, locate, and assume shepherding responsibility for all young single adults” (First Presidency letter, April 10, 2009; see also First Presidency letter, October 3, 2006).
Handbook 2: Administering the Church suggests that the stake president has two basic roles with respect to assuming shepherding responsibility for young single adults:
- First, teach correct principles to leaders about identifying and locating individuals, and hold assigned leaders, particularly at the ward or branch level, accountable to minister to (or shepherd) individual young single adults. It is usually advisable to begin by strengthening active young single adults and then organizing them to invite their less-active peers to return to full activity (see Handbook 2: 16.3.5, “Finding and Inviting”).
- Second, appoint and counsel with leaders regarding the organization of programs and activities that will meet the needs and interests of young single adults in your stake and will help them associate with one another. “A central purpose of these activities is to help young single adults find marriage partners and prepare to marry in the temple and raise righteous families” (Handbook 2: 16.2, paragraph 3; emphasis added).
These two roles are discussed in more detail below.
1. Teach ward leaders how to minister to individual young single adults, and hold them accountable.
As you train and follow up with ward and stake leaders about their roles with young single adults, consider the following:
- In your interviews with bishops, ask for regular reports “on the progress of young single adults” (see Handbook 2: 16.3.1, paragraph 2). You may want to do the same in your interviews with elders quorum presidents.
- In your interviews with the stake Relief Society president, you might ask about training the ward Relief Society presidencies regarding their roles in seeking out individual young single adults. Read more about the roles of Relief Society presidencies in shepherding young single adults.
- Invite each bishop to work with his ward council to adapt the approved programs and activities (see Handbook 2: 16.3.5) to meet the needs of young single adults. Learn more about how the bishop in conventional wards organizes ward leaders to serve young single adults in Handbook 2: 16.3.3.
- Become familiar with the new fields in the Quarterly Report that ask for accountability for young single adult attendance at Sunday elders quorum and Relief Society meetings; read more in Using the Quarterly Report. You may want to use that report regularly in your interviews with bishops, elders quorum presidents, and the stake Relief Society president.
2. Organize opportunities for young single adults to associate with one another in learning and living the gospel.
The stake presidency has a particularly important role to set the framework for young single adult involvement in the Church. In many stakes, the best way to help young single adults to meet and get to know peers is by organizing service, social, and gospel-learning activities (see Handbook 2: 16.3.1, paragraph 1); these activities could be held on a stake level, on a ward level, with a combination of wards, or even on the multistake level (see Handbook 2: 13.3.1 and 16.3.6). Handbook 2 gives you the flexibility to create a program that meets the unique situation of your stake (see Handbook 2: 16.3.1, paragraph 4, and 16.3.5).
Organization on the stake level. Assign one of your counselors and a high councilor to oversee the work regarding young single adults in your unit (see Handbook 2: 16.3.1). The counselor and high councilor may recommend that a stake young single adult committee be organized (see Handbook 2: 16.3.2).
Organization on the ward level. Most young single adults live in conventional (family) wards. You may also recommend the organization of a young single adult ward or branch (see Handbook 1: 9.1.6 and Handbook 2: 16.3.1, paragraph 5). View a chart comparing these two organizational configurations. To help you decide whether to organize a young single adult ward or branch, consider these factors:
- Do you have enough young single adults who live close enough to one another (with adequate transportation) and with sufficient interest to form a young single adult ward or branch?
- Are the ages and interests of the young single adults sufficiently similar to make associating together appropriate?
- Do you have enough worthy married priesthood leaders in the stake who would work well with young single adults to form a bishopric?
- You may want to select appropriate stake leaders (for example, members of a young single adult committee; see Handbook 2: 16.3.2) to study the matter and make a recommendation to you.
- You may also want to consult with the bishops of conventional wards regarding this decision.