New Flexibility in Premilitary Orientation
“With the discontinuance of the Selective Service draft in the United States, … those volunteering for military service frequently do so on very short notice. There has been a corresponding marked decrease in the number of young men attending the preservice Church orientation for prospective LDS servicemen. … Also, more of our young women are entering the service. In view of these changing conditions, it is more important than ever that these young men and women attend the preservice Church orientation and that the scheduling of this orientation be more flexible.” (President Spencer W. Kimball, letter to Regional Representatives of the Council of the Twelve.)
Before the military draft ended in the United States in December 1972, each draftee was given at least 30 days’ notice before reporting for basic training. This was usually adequate time to make arrangements for him to attend preservice Church orientation, usually conducted in group sessions at a pre-fixed time and place on a multiregional, regional, or stake basis.
Now that the United States has adopted an all-volunteer military program, many young men and women who decide to enter the service leave for basic training in a matter of days. There is often neither time nor opportunity for them to attend a scheduled orientation session. Therefore, preservice Church orientations conducted only at prescheduled times and locations no longer meet the challenging need of our young men and women to receive this training.
In order to adapt to the needs of those who depart for military service on short notice, instructors in the program must now be prepared to present this orientation on a one-to-one basis when necessary, and at a time and place convenient to the member. Moreover, a redistribution of instructors will take into account situations where distance may be a real problem. In many regions—metropolitan areas, for example—one instructor may be sufficient for several stakes; but where distance is a problem, some stakes or even individual scattered wards or branches may each require an instructor.
The purpose of preservice Church orientation is to provide each prospective serviceman or woman with a basic knowledge of the Church program for those in the military and an understanding of the special responsibilities of each Latter-day Saint enlistee. Included in the orientation are discussions on such topics as living the standards of the Church, keeping in touch with home, sharing the gospel, investing leisure time, etc. Regional Representatives of the Council of the Twelve are responsible for organizing and supervising preservice Church orientation within their respective regions.
The first responsibility for arranging to receive this orientation lies, of course, with the member himself, after the decision to enter the military has been made. However, parents and home teachers should also encourage the young man or woman to receive this training and see that the ward executive secretary is notified. Home teachers must give special attention to less active members whose plans for the military may be more difficult to determine.
When the ward executive secretary has been notified, he will immediately contact the stake executive secretary who will, in turn, notify the preservice orientation instructor assigned to the region. The instructor will contact the prospective serviceman and make an appointment for him to receive the preservice Church orientation in a group session if possible, on a one-to-one basis if necessary.
It is the Church’s objective that every young man and woman entering and serving in the armed forces receive the valuable instruction available through this flexible adaptation of the program.
Smorgasbord of Opportunity with Relief Society Optional Lessons
“The Relief Society provides sets of optional lessons for Young Adult and other special groups in the study areas of social relations, cultural refinement, and homemaking. These lessons are generally slanted toward the interests of single women and provide possibilities for enrichment as well as substitution for lessons in the manual, Relief Society Courses of Study.” (Janath Cannon, education counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency. See also Notes to the Field, vol. 4., no. 3, August 1974.)
Young Adult and other groups may, of course, elect to follow the regular Relief Society lessons; but they have the assurance in choosing the optional lessons that they are studying correlation-approved materials.
There are four lessons in each optional set. For instance, a social relations set contains four lessons to be taught at the social relations meetings for four consecutive months. No spiritual living optional lessons were prepared, because all sisters will study the universal principles in the regular lessons in this area.
The lessons may be ordered for 50¢ each from the Distribution Center, 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104.
Some of these optional lessons—and more are planned—include “The Economics of Living More Abundantly,” “Vienna and Its Music,” “A Sensible Course in Physical Fitness,” “Decorating an Apartment on a Limited Budget,” “The Woman Alone,” “Practical Ideas for Beauty in the Home,” “Manage Your Money,” “Shakespeare in Our Lives,” “Improving Your Writing Skills,” and “Who Are You? The Quest for Self-Discovery and Understanding.”
These lessons are valuable for any sister in the Church, but they try to focus particularly on the needs of the single sister or those who attend second-session Relief Societies. For example, the four lessons on money management not only teach correct attitudes about money, but also include sample budgets and charts for establishing savings goals. “Vienna and Its Music” introduces the sisters to the musical life of Austria in general and its capital city in particular, then offers the works of three composers guaranteed to appeal to a wide range of musical tastes: Haydn, Beethoven, and Strauss.
“Practical Ideas for Beauty in the Home” suggests that fabric can be a decorating lifesaver to lighten or darken a room, emphasize or conceal windows, walls, or furniture, unify unrelated furnishings, set or change the mood of a room, and so on. It also treats that difficult question of how to develop good taste and gives several guidelines to help the novice gain experience. One of the first steps to a charming home, the lesson stresses, is keeping it well-groomed.
“The Woman Alone” tackles head-on the problems of loneliness, impersonality, and spiritual stagnation that can come to women not established in family situations. It teaches the principle of “interdependence,” or avoiding the extremes of either dependence or independence. The three principles of interdependence are: (1) Each party contributes something; no one relies on others for everything. (2) Each gives according to her abilities: each party does not necessarily contribute the same amount to the relationship. (3) The exchange of services is not always between the same people. “Someone else may need your help, and that is where you serve.”
Sister Moselle Budge, social relations teacher for the Salt Lake 13th North Ward in the Salt Lake Central Stake, finds that “The Woman Alone” lessons are “exactly what we needed” for her second-session Relief Society consisting of newly married girls without children, widows, the divorced, the never-married, and an age span reaching from the 20s into the 70s.
“Some of the lessons in the manual just couldn’t be adapted for our special circumstances, but these optional lessons are really good—applicable to our needs and very useful. Our stake Relief Society president attended the first lesson and was excited about how good it was. Believe me, I’m grateful for them.”