The First Presidency has recently announced a unified, worldwide date for the beginning of the Church curriculum year. In a letter to Church leaders around the world, the First Presidency said:
“In the way of unification, reduction, and simplification of Church programs, the Church Curriculum year will now be unified worldwide on a calendar-year basis.
“The change to the new calendar year will become effective on January 1, 1982. This will allow for the necessary adjustments and notifications to be made and communicated prior to implementation.” (Dated 30 September 1980.)
Wayne Lynn, director of the Church Curriculum Planning and Development Department, commented, “We’re very pleased with this decision; it indicates that we are truly becoming a worldwide church.”
He explained that the current system, keyed to the beginning of the local school year, means that the curriculum year begins on six different dates throughout the world. January 1 marks the beginning date for Guatemala, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore, Tonga, and Fiji. One month later, on February 1, Australia, New Zealand, Bolivia, Chile, Western Samoa, El Salvador, Peru, and Guayaquil begin. They are followed after thirty days by Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Central America, Japan, and Korea on March 1.
Then the Philippines begins on July 1 followed by the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Tahiti on September 1.
Ecuador is a special case. All the country except Quito begins on February 1; Quito’s schedule calls for starting in October.
“With additional languages and areas being added each year, this problem would have increased,” points out Brother Lynn. The problems become particularly complicated in some areas. Portugal, on a September 1 schedule, has trouble getting its materials on time from Brazil, which is on a March 1 schedule. U.S. servicemen’s branches overseas are on a different schedule than those in neighboring branches. Minority branches in the United States have the same problems.
Other reasons for making the shift are—
1. Two annual shipments of curriculum, clerical, and administrative material can now be reduced to one, resulting in a significant savings of money and effort.
2. Producing and translating Church materials can be better coordinated.
3. Financial and activity records are already kept on a calendar year; so is master planning.
4. The consolidated meeting schedule, with a twelve-month curriculum for all age groups, will adapt easily to a calendar-year curriculum.
5. Members moving to different parts of the world will not interrupt their curriculum studies, and Church scripture-reading programs can now be unified worldwide.