Creating a Ward Newsletter?

Sometimes as members of the Church we are asked to create newsletters, sacrament and baptismal programs, or handouts or invitations for ward events. The following tips can help guide us in making appropriate printed materials for Church meetings and activities.

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    Keep the design simple. Remember that less is often better. For instance, two complementary fonts (type styles) on a half-page sacrament meeting program are usually adequate. When documents require visuals, carefully consider the placement and how many are needed. Would one large visual look better than several small ones? Whatever the size of your document, keep in mind that a simple design best complements the text.

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    Choose appropriate images and fonts. To give an appropriate feel for the purpose of a document and the meeting it represents, be selective about the images and fonts you use. Refer to Church magazines and other Church publications for ideas. As you select images, be careful to check copyright restrictions. When selecting a font, also consider whether it is readable for members with impaired vision.

  3. 3.

    Carefully write and select text. If you compile a ward newsletter, for instance, it is important that the tone of your writing be uplifting. It is fun to share anecdotes about ward members, with their permission. But do not print confidential information or anything that might embarrass them. In any document, it is also important to record facts correctly. People notice when their names are misspelled or when dates are listed incorrectly. While we all make mistakes, we can prevent many of these errors by taking a few moments to double-check details, use a computer spell checker, then re-read text to catch anything we may have missed earlier.

Though typing a program does not involve the same level of writing as a newsletter, content is still important and should reflect the meeting’s purpose. For instance, when a sacrament meeting includes a departing or returning missionary as one of the speakers, the printed program ought to focus mainly on the worship service.

Also, if a document includes inspirational thoughts, it is best to quote the scriptures as well as Church publications and leaders. Thoughts from other sources should be consistent with Church doctrine.

While we are counseled to “reduce and simplify,” ward and stake leaders at times need to provide some printed materials to their local congregations. By thoughtfully preparing these documents, we can help set the right tone for many of our Church meetings and events.

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Dinner and Dance Cards

Our branch presidency felt our youth needed an opportunity to mingle in a social environment where they could extend themselves to others and feel that they counted. To help accomplish this, we decided to have a “Line Up” dance and dinner. Though the concept is certainly not new, it was so successful that we thought others might benefit from learning about it.

First, we announced the dance to the youth, explaining that if they wanted to participate, the branch presidency would arrange a date for them. Because the branch presidency lined up all the dates, the pressure was off both the young men and young women. Then we had the young men call and arrange for the date and later return the young women home.

At the dinner, we asked the young people to dance with a different partner each time. Mingling at the dance was successful because no one was with the same person for the entire evening.

The Sunday following the activity, there was new excitement as branch members gathered. “We needed that,” one young woman said. “We needed the opportunity to have fun in a nonthreatening environment and to meet lots of people.”

This activity required the leaders to do advance planning and then to follow through. The youth who had originally agreed to participate rarely canceled. Though there were some last-minute changes, we worked together, and the dance was a great success.Mark G. Christensen, Greeley Second Ward, Greeley Colorado Stake

Reverence Begins at Home

While serving as a stake Sunday School president, I visited classrooms to observe the instruction and class participation. Most of the classes were well taught and well received. Yet in some cases I noticed that student conversation caused interruptions or that some students were reluctant to participate in class discussions. To help remedy these problems, I felt that family home evening might be a good place to start. Years ago I counseled one of my own sons to serve as a silent aid to improve the conduct of his peers in one of his classes. It was so successful that years later I prepared a lesson for my extended family and subsequently shared it with other ward Sunday School presidents. Following are ideas for creating your own family home evening lesson about showing reverence in Sunday School as well as other Church classes.

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    Role-play a distracting classroom situation. Choose two family members to read two different passages of the scriptures simultaneously. After the family has observed the confusion, ask if anyone has noticed similar background conversation during a lesson. What happens to our ability to learn and to feel the Spirit when an irreverent class situation occurs? Talk about appropriate behavior and what we hope to gain from attending a reverent, insightful class.

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    List ways to improve classroom experiences. Ask your children how they can be good examples and help others to participate appropriately in class. Emphasize that they can help their friends contribute positively to a spiritual classroom experience. Write down everyone’s suggestions for improving classroom experiences. Our family discussed these ideas:

  • Encourage individual learning and self-improvement from every class.

  • Take scriptures and suggested study materials to class.

  • Show respect and kindness for the teacher and classmates.

  • Ask for meanings of difficult words.

  • Encourage others to participate meaningfully in class discussions.

Reverent participation in all Church classes is important for our spiritual edification. Above all, we can pray that the classroom situation will invite the Spirit, that the teacher will have the class’s cooperation, and that the students will increase their understanding of the gospel and desire to live by righteous principles.Ronald L. Petersen, Valley View Fifth Ward, Layton Utah Valley View Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker