“There now begins the most intensive period of temple building in the history of the Church.”
With this forceful and prophetic observation, President Spencer W. Kimball pointed the attention of General Authorities and Regional Representatives and their wives to the significance of the announcement April 2 of seven new temples.
“We look to the day,” President Kimball continued, “when the sacred ordinances of the Church, performed in the temples, will be available to all members of the Church in convenient locations around the globe. The building of these temples must be accompanied by a strong emphasis on genealogical research on the part of members of the Church. We feel an urgency for this great work.”
President Kimball’s remarks opened the Regional Representatives’ Seminar, Friday, April 4, held in the Church Office Building.
Following additional counsel by President Kimball, Regional Representatives were then instructed by Elder Thomas S. Monson and Elder Boyd K. Packer, through a panel discussion narrated by Elder J. Thomas Fyans and Brother Rulon G. Craven. Instructions in the duties of being a Regional Representative were given, as well as a presentation on genealogy, which is to be made throughout the Church in the second half of 1980, in Saturday evening sessions of stake conferences.
The remaining morning session of the seminar focused on the new consolidated meeting schedule, during which time representative members and leaders from pilot areas reported the favorable impact the new consolidated schedule has had on the lives and activity of members. Areas outside the U.S. and Canada begin the new consolidated schedule May 4.
The following materials and observations are from the presentation on the consolidated meeting schedule:
Elder Neal A. Maxwell—“At the time the new consolidated schedule was approved by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, it was made clear that its purposes were to provide ‘more time for giving attention to family life, individual study, self-improvement, and Christian service.’ We are mindful that the consolidated schedule would save much in the way of costs of gasoline, but this was not the basic purpose. It is true that circumstances in which the saints live vary widely. But the basic purposes of the Church remain unchanged. In the Book of Mormon we read about how the Sabbath was basically the teaching and learning day: ‘And there was one day in every week set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God, and also, as often as it was in their power, to assemble themselves together’ (Mosiah 18:25). In the future, what is in our power by way of assembling ourselves together may not even be what is feasible today. But a family-centered Sabbath has been and always will be desired; so will a scripturally centered Sabbath. We hope that as we now have a fresh opportunity to study the scriptures that we will do so. We have a chance to sink our root system in the rich soil of the scriptures and become more firmly anchored therein under the consolidated schedule. Also, under this new schedule, it will be important to expedite meetings without making them seem rushed. Children are still to be blessed in fast meetings.
“Space considerations require thoughtful attention. Thousands of dollars have been saved from purchasing dividers by having the Primary hold split sessions. Clearly, there are balances to be struck which we think are best determined locally. One of them, for example, is between the legitimate and competing needs of having continuity in our Primary teachers, on the one hand, and not having those sisters go forever without the privileges of participating in Relief Society, on the other.
“A balance also needs to be struck in having active Scouting and exploring programs which require regular activities, on the one hand, and not badgering busy high school students with too many activities, on the other.
“In sum, the consolidated meeting schedule is an opportunity of major proportions. I reflect that in the past years we have stretched or pulled or strained to gain a percentage point here or there in a particular church program; now we have an inspired consolidated meeting schedule that actually raises attendance 10 to 15 percent, or higher in some cases. We should welcome this opportunity with arms reaching out as never before to all who are in need of our fellowship.”
Elder Dean L. Larsen—“One of the things I have noticed is that there is a tendency by some to think that the Church is dramatically different now that we have the consolidated meeting schedule. That simply is not true. We are still carrying on many of the functions that we have had in the Church. The new consolidated meeting schedule has not changed the basic Church, and it has not given license for aberrations in established, prescribed programs.”
Elder Dean L. Larsen—“There is something about the consolidated meeting schedule that has an appeal to those who have not been participating with us before. We don’t know all the reasons for this, but there is something about the newness and the innovation that has this appeal. Thus, right now during the so-called honeymoon period, while this new appeal is still there, it is crucial that we organize to take full advantage of this reactivation opportunity. And the place to do that on the ward level is in the ward correlation council meeting. We hope we will all be alerted to this opportunity for reactivation.”
Does the consolidated meeting schedule allow for special classes for inactive and prospective elders? “Yes. Ward Temple Preparation seminars and Gospel Essential classes can be held concurrently with the regular ward Sunday School classes, or they can be scheduled during other hours not designed for ward meetings.”
How does the consolidated meeting schedule affect family home evening? “Guidelines for family home evening remain unchanged. Families should continue to hold family home evening on Monday evenings, using the manual and other approved materials. As in the past, occasional family activities may be appropriate on Monday evenings in addition to gospel instruction. Family study of the gospel on Sunday is part of keeping the Sabbath day holy and should be encouraged in addition to family home evening.”
How can ward and stake leaders hold the necessary meetings and still maintain the spirit of the family Sabbath? “Priesthood and other leaders should be careful to schedule necessary meetings at times that do not interrupt family Sabbath activities. Careful planning will avoid lengthy meetings. Generally, times immediately before or after the combined meetings can save on travel and minimize the disruption of family worship. In areas where travel is not a significant problem, early morning hours may provide the best time for extra meetings.”
Should meetings or other activities be scheduled during the Sunday School period? “Only the approved Sunday School classes, using the approved curriculum, are to be conducted during the Sunday School period. Such functions as bishop’s meetings, executive committee meetings, ward correlation council meetings, choir practices, etc., should not be scheduled during this period.”
A bishop reported, “We try to keep our Sundays free from any leadership or organizational meetings. On the weekday Mutual night, we have found a way to consolidate other necessary meetings and on that night we hold priesthood executive committee meeting, ward correlation council, and welfare services meeting. Our ward officers and teachers come to Church on Sunday and then generally on our Mutual night once or twice a month. The rest of the time is left, for other duties relating to Christian service and being together with their families.”
“Women are not to be members of Sunday School presidencies. Men are not to be called to serve in Primary presidencies.”
What about the basic teacher development course? Elder Dean Larsen—“We are not using more Sunday School space than before consolidation. There should be no reason why space cannot continue to be provided for teacher development, and certainly we do not wish to lose the teacher development basic course which should be and is implemented under the direction of the Sunday School and should continue to be a part of that regular curriculum.”
Barbara Smith, general president of the Relief Society—“Many people call and ask about the stake Relief Society board—what is it composed of? We want members to know it should include the executive officers, plus at least eight other members, so that it is a board of twelve members. We hope Young Adults are considered for Relief Society presidencies and for teaching positions. They have much vitality and enthusiasm to give, while the older sisters can give stability and maturity.”
“Ward and stake Relief Society choirs may still be organized to provide music for stake conferences, sacrament meetings, funerals, and other occasions.”
Elaine Cannon, general president of the Young Women—“Stake advisers for Young Women are now generally not needed. If they are deemed necessary in a large stake, their responsibilities would be assigned by the stake Young Women Presidency. The same is true of ward structure; advisers are needed only when the young women population demands.”
The Young Women’s current manuals have twenty-two lessons. What shall they teach for additional lessons? “Provide weekly spiritual experiences for young women from the following sources: age group manuals, ‘The Latter-day Saint Woman,’ Gospel Principles, ‘My Personal Progress,’ Young Women Guidebook (youth leadership lessons), Church magazines, talks from general women’s meetings, approved films from meetinghouse library, Teaching, No Greater Call, and guest speakers, occasionally invited to a class or combination of classes as approved by the bishopric.”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell—“A very important role is played by the bishop’s youth committee and much of the planning for youth on the ward level will occur there. We see the ward activities committee as becoming more and more crucial as the bishopric uses them do some significant things.”
“Those who should attend the bishopric youth committee meeting are the bishopric, the chairman of the ward activities committee, ward Young Men and Young Women presidents, the first assistant to the bishop in the priests quorum, the presidents of the teachers and deacons quorum, and Young Women class presidents.”
What is the recommended way to treat youth firesides? Elder Robert L. Backman—“I don’t think there needs to be much change from the way we have done this before. A caring bishopric, caring for both the needs of the families and the needs of the youth, can see the need to continue these important firesides at an appropriate frequency.”
Does the new consolidated meeting schedule do away with any ward and stake activities such as plays and roadshows? “No. There continues to be a need for appropriate high quality activities. Some events, such as athletic contests, play rehearsals, etc., may need to be scheduled at other times during the week. Such scheduling should be approved by the bishopric through the correlation council.”
What is the policy regarding competitive athletics and sports? “Competitive sports programs should continue to receive emphasis and support at all levels of play, including stake, region, multiregion, etc. The scope of the program for a given area should be determined by the Executive Administrator, Regional Representatives, and stake presidents involved. Aaronic Priesthood quorum and Young Women leaders maintain stewardship for all young men and young women between the ages of twelve and eighteen. They will determine the extent of the Young Men and Young Women sports program. It is to be organized, implemented, and supervised by the ward or stake Activities Committee.”
How often should priests, teachers, and deacons quorums meet on a week night to participate in Scouting, Venturing, Exploring, and other activities? Elder Robert L. Backman—“The Aaronic Priesthood quorums will usually meet weekly, on a week night other than Monday, in addition to their regular quorum meeting on Sunday—unless travel or other restrictions require meeting only once a week.”
What about holding Primary on stake conference days? Elder Dean L. Larsen—“The initial guidelines did carry a notation that Primary on stake conference days was to be discontinued, but that was in error. What we have called junior Sunday School and is now Primary may be held on the same basis as in the past on stake conference Sundays for the children who have been attending those services.”
A bishop—“Our Primary leaders are saying, ‘We never had this kind of reverence on Tuesday afternoon, our usual Primary time. On Sunday, those children are prepared to have a spiritual experience, and we don’t have the kinds of problems we formerly had.’”
If a child turned three years old in January 1980 and has been enrolled in Sunday School, what Primary class will the child attend? “The child should attend the nursery until the beginning of the next curriculum year; then he would be enrolled in the Sunbeam class. Three-year-old children should be enrolled in Primary according to the entrance and enrollment policy as stated in the Primary Handbook, page 38.”
What do we do with the twelve-year-old boy who graduates from Primary in midyear and enters course 12 “Under the consolidation meeting schedule, a boy who reaches the age of 12 after the start of the curriculum year will become a member of the Sunday School and enter course 12 at that time. He will move to course 13 with the rest of the class at the beginning of a new curriculum year, regardless of how long he has been in course 12.”
Will there still be ward choirs? “Yes, ward choirs continue to be an essential part of the Church program. It is recommended that choirs sing in sacrament meeting at least twice a month. Special choirs, soloists, or groups may be used on those Sundays when choirs do not sing. Practices may be held at any time convenient to the members; however, they should not be held during the Sunday School hour.”
Also at the seminar, President Ezra Taft Benson announced the following newly called Regional Representatives: Oscar H. Aguayo of Lima, Peru; Hugo Angel Catron of Buenos Aires, Argentina; David Christensen Harvey of Pleasant Grove, Utah; Donald Long Hilton of Port Neches, Texas; Robert Donald Livingstone of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada; Russell Brown Maddock of Standardsville, Virginia; Joseph Marshall McPhie of Salt Lake City, Utah; George L, Merrill of Bountiful, Utah; Milton W. Russon of Bountiful, Utah; John Sonnenberg of Naperville, Illinois; Jason G. Souza of Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Kenji Tanaka of Yokohama, Japan.