Checkers, Crocheting, Cricket: New Ward Recreation Emphasis Now Includes Everyone
“Think of what we could do with a recreation program in each ward or branch of the Church that would involve the entire ward family in wholesome activities—members of individual families participating with other families. Single people, unmarried, divorced, widows, and widowers, the active and the less active, all joined together in opportunities that would recreate and regenerate, that would bring rich social and physical and spiritual benefits to those involved.” (Elder Marion D. Hanks, remarks at June Conference, the Ensign, September 1974, p. 91.)
Forty-nine million adult Americans recently made some interesting responses to a survey conducted by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Only a few more than half felt they got enough exercise; most thought girls as well as boys should have the opportunity of participating in sports programs. Most felt they had become “spectators rather than participants,” and that more emphasis should be placed on developing skills in “lifetime sports” that can be engaged in during the adult years—and even by the elderly.
The Church has now initiated a “Priesthood Athletic and Recreation Program” for all Church members. The new program falls under the direction of the ward athletic and recreation directors.
The present competitive athletic program is to continue on a vigorous level, but the new recreation emphasis would be an effort to involve the total ward family—including those who are inactive or who have physical impairments—in a program of recreation in which they can participate.
The goals of the program are to involve more participants and to urge participation on a broader basis than could naturally be expected in a competitive athletic program.
Widely used and accepted by Church members, the program could serve as a vehicle to develop basic human qualities such as physical well-being, the sense of achievement, fellowship, the joy of creation, the sense of service, and emotional stability.
The possibilities are almost endless. The recreation program can initiate physical activities (such as jogging, bicycling, hiking, and bowling), but can include arts and crafts, drama, dance, music, outing and nature activities, literary and mental activities, neighborhood gatherings, and service activities.
Consider what happened in the Boise Idaho North Stake under the direction of then stake president Vaughn J. Featherstone, now second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church. In the period of just one year, the stake offered 28 different activities for all ages and physical capacities, some of which included snow skiing, roller skating, swimming and diving, horseshoes, ping pong, golf, wrestling, camping, chess and checkers, a raft race, and paddleball.
By broadening the concept of Church athletics to include recreation, giving joy and fulfillment to each individual can be an even easier and more realistic goal, since those who might not otherwise participate in a regular program of athletics can be involved. Leaders see it as a tool to involve whole families, strengthen testimonies, and reactivate our own members as well as attract investigators to the Church.
Start at the Real Grass Roots as an Agricultural Missionary
“Agricultural missionaries are people (generally man and wife) who are qualified to go in the mission field and teach members how to produce more from their soil and related resources and how to increase their nutritional standards.” (Church Welfare Department Bulletin on Agricultural Missionaries.)
As the first agricultural missionaries to serve outside the United States, Brother and Sister Daniel Noorlander were, in some respects, pioneers. Building on their success, the agricultural missionary program is just beginning to show its potential. Today, Brother and Sister Jordan Rasmussen are serving in the Guatemala Guatemala City Mission, and ten more couples are expected to be in the field in 1975, serving among American Indians.
“As President Harold B. Lee said, you can’t have a good member of the Church who’s hungry,” reminds Henry E. Peterson, assistant managing director of the Church Welfare Department. “These agricultural missionaries are broadening people’s diets, increasing yields from the land, and teaching them to produce more from resources at hand.”
Agricultural missionaries also teach use of fertilizer, utilization of livestock, and help members make the best use of local governmental sources of agricultural information. The sister in the missionary team often teaches sanitation, nutrition, and food use and preservation. A married couple working together can thus emphasize most aspects of food. They do not try to impose methods or equipment used in more developed countries upon the farmers with whom they work. As Brother Peterson says, “If they’re plowing with a stick, we teach them how to sharpen the stick.”
Although they do not directly proselyte, the agricultural missionaries are effective in distributing Church literature and referring contacts to proselyting missionaries. Their major assignment is with members, and they are responsible to the mission president. Often they work under the direction of a branch or district president.
Couples considered for this service are interviewed, recommended, and called just as proselyting missionaries are; they must meet the same standards of worthiness, good health, and financial independence. The words “agricultural missionary candidate” should be written at the top of the recommendation form. According to the Priesthood Bulletin 19:2, these missionaries should have no dependents at home.
Although Brother Noorlander “didn’t know what to expect” when he was first called, his meeting with the priesthood members of the branch in Patzicia, Guatemala, where he was assigned, was fruitful. The branch formed a successful cooperative and work was begun on six acres of Church-owned land next to the chapel. The members also continued to farm their own sharecropping plots, but incorporated better methods.
Some experimental crops were planted, rabbit raising was introduced, and dairy goats were sent in. Later, a carpentry shop was added to the cooperative.
“I firmly believe that we are to be the ‘nursing fathers and mothers’ that the Book of Mormon speaks of concerning these people,” says Brother Noorlander. “The promise that the Lamanites ‘shall blossom as a rose’ is not an abstract dream. If they are given what they need to get started, they will blossom. I have never seen a people more industrious.”
Help for Unwed Parents at LDS Social Services
“By law and by assignment from the First Presidency, all matters pertaining to the adoption and foster care of children in which the Church is or should be involved have been assigned to the Social Services Department.” (Priesthood Bulletin, February 1971.)
Under ideal conditions, members of the Church do not have a need to place children up for adoption or foster care. There are circumstances, however, when childless Latter-day Saint couples and unwed mothers need some place to go for help in finding solutions to their particular dilemmas.
Consider the plight of Sally, a 15-year-old girl. She is pregnant, unmarried, and doesn’t know what to do. She confides in her boyfriend; he urges her to get an abortion. He offers to make the arrangements and to pay the bill. Sally knows that abortion is not the answer, because she has been taught in her home that life is sacred and not to be tampered with. Frightened and desperate, she turns to her mother, who is shocked and saddened by her daughter’s problem. At this point Sally’s mother could have belittled her daughter, tried to shame her, and made her suffer even more for having transgressed; instead, she suggested that Sally consult a physician to confirm her suspicion that she is pregnant and to receive advice on prenatal care.
Knowing that in six months she will give birth to a child, Sally now has to decide whether to marry the father of the child, to release the child for adoption, or to keep the baby. She seeks further advice from her bishop.
While counseling with Sally the bishop recognized her sincere regret in having committed a sin. He desires to help her explore the possible solutions for her problem, and he tells Sally that the first consideration would be marriage. Since Sally and her boyfriend do not share the same ideals in life, she has no desire to marry him. Sally instead needs help in deciding whether to keep the baby or give it up for adoption.
At this point the bishop tells Sally about LDS Social Services and makes an appointment for her to talk with a professionally trained social worker. He stresses that the counselor will keep the information confidential and that she will retain her free agency to make her own decision. Sally decides to go for regular counseling so she can become aware of her real feelings and desires and of possible resources available within herself and her environment to solve her problem for her own sake and the sake of her unborn child.
Debra was referred to LDS Social Services by an attorney who was a friend of her family. Debra became pregnant out of wedlock during her senior year in high school. She wanted to finish high school but did not want to make her circumstances public.
Debra’s social worker arranged for her to live with a Latter-day Saint family in a neighboring city. Here Debra was treated like a member of the family; she did light housekeeping duties and was given appropriate responsibilities and privileges.
Debra and Sally both were able to attend group meetings for unwed mothers, to take part in firesides, and occasionally they spent an afternoon doing arts and crafts together under the supervision of a trained female volunteer. These activities provided an opportunity to socialize, exchange common concerns, and voice frustrations. Both girls continued their education through a special tutoring program arranged by LDS Social Services. They also received prenatal counseling.
LDS Social Services recognizes that unwed parents have emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs and works with the unwed mother, the unwed father (if possible), and their parents (if appropriate). Through a series of interviews each unwed parent sets up a program that will prepare him or her to meet individual needs through self-understanding.
Financial planning is arranged on an individual basis, but members are encouraged to provide for their own financial needs.
Debra and her boyfriend both went for counseling and were able to obtain a greater understanding of who they are in the sight of their Heavenly Father. They pledged a determination to create a home that would welcome the spirit that would soon come to earth.
Sally, on the other hand, did not choose marriage as a solution to her problem. In her case, LDS Social Services arranged for the child to be legally adopted in a qualified Latter-day Saint home.
A majority of unwed parents helped by LDS Social Services go on to become successful wives and mothers and husbands and fathers, meriting the forgiveness of their Father in heaven and feeling his love.
LDS Social Services has agencies in Australia, Arizona, California, Canada (Alberta), Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington. If there is no local agency nearby, Church members and officers may inquire for information through LDS. Social Services, 19 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101, telephone (801) 531-2846.