Policies and Programs


The policies and programs of the Church are instituted for the purpose of helping members of the Church live harmoniously within Church procedures. Many of these official guidelines are sent to priesthood and auxiliary leaders in a newsletter called the Priesthood Bulletin (PB), from which most of the following items are quoted. Items of general interest from other sources are also included on occasion.

Student Wards to Be Known as Branches

Student wards, generally associated with college campuses, will from now on be known as student branches. In announcing the changeover from wards to branches, the First Presidency said that “the principal reason for this change is that the activities conducted in these Church units more nearly correspond with the activities carried on in branches. Also, this change will’ make it possible to call young students to serve as branch presidents or as counselors in branch presidencies without the necessity of ordaining them high priests.

“Under the present ward structure, bishops counselors must be ordained high priests. When this occurs with young men who are attending school, it prevents them from later giving needed strength and leadership in elders and seventies quorums in the stakes where these young men settle permanently.”

Within the new student branches, all officers and teachers will continue to serve in their same capacities, but as part of a branch rather than part of a ward. The change in ward structure does not mean a change in the stake structure of student stake organizations.

Who Presides When High Councilor Visits Quorums?

“The question has been asked, ‘Who presides when a high councilor visits an elders quorum?’ A high councilor does not take away the presiding right of the elders quorum president. If he is there by appointment of the stake presidency, he should be so recognized. The minutes should record that the visiting high councilor representing the stake presidency was in attendance. … High councilors assigned to work with the leadership of elders quorums should understand that their role is one of teaching and counseling rather than assuming any responsibility to direct quorum affairs.

“The foregoing policy also applies to groups of high priests, to quorums, units, and groups of seventy. …”—PB

Clarification Given on Youth Activities

“There has been a misunderstanding about item 10 of the April 1971 issue of the Priesthood Bulletin, ‘Mixed Youth Camping and Youth Conferences.’ There was no intent to prohibit mixed youth camping or other joint boy-girl Church activities, provided they are approved by those having priesthood authority and are properly chaperoned. It is understood that all previously outlined safeguards to protect our youth will be strictly adhered to.”—PB

Missionaries and Excessive Fasting

Parents, relatives, and friends of missionaries will be interested in the following: “Some missionaries in the field … resort to excessive fasting in behalf of their investigators. At the mission presidents’ seminar held in Salt Lake City, April 7, 1959, President Joseph Fielding Smith gave the following instruction:

“‘We are informed that some missionaries engage in rather lengthy fasting. It is not advisable that they do this. If there is a special matter for which they should fast, if they would fast one day and then go to the Lord humbly and ask for his blessings, that should suffice. If our missionaries feel the need of fasting, they should fast for the day only and not extend it. They need the strength for their work, and I think once a month is sufficient for fasting. They may have special occasions when they want to increase their faith to help someone who is ill or for other worthy causes when they may take another day during the month, but they should not make a prolonged fast.’

“Some missionaries have also written to their friends and relatives, as well as to members of their home wards, requesting them to hold special fasts for their investigators. Missionaries are requested to refrain from making such requests, either among the saints in the mission field or among their friends and ward members at home.”—PB