13.6 Policies and Guidelines
Leaders ensure that the following policies and guidelines are observed in all Church activities.
Accident Prevention and Response
Supervision by an adequate number of responsible adults should be provided for activities for children, youth, and young single adults. The number of adults needed is determined by the size of the group, the skill level of the group (for activities requiring certain skills), anticipated environmental conditions, and the overall degree of challenge of the activity. Parents should be encouraged to help.
Commercial or Political Activities
Activities that would use Church facilities for any commercial or political purpose are not permitted. For policies on using Church buildings and other property, see 21.2.
Activities should comply with community curfew laws.
Dances and Music
In all dances, the dress, grooming, lighting, dancing styles, lyrics, and music should contribute to an atmosphere where the Spirit of the Lord can be present (see For the Strength of Youth). Those who oversee dances should carefully follow the policies outlined below.
Leaders use the Performance Contract form when hiring a band, orchestra, or disc jockey. This contract helps ensure that conduct and music are appropriate for Church dances. Those who provide music should not use inappropriate lyrics and should not dress or talk immodestly. Leaders hold auditions and make firm, clear agreements in writing that commit the persons who provide music to follow Church standards when performing for Church activities.
The beat of the music, whether instrumental or vocal, should not overshadow the melody. The volume should be low enough to allow two people who are standing side by side to hear each other as they carry on a normal conversation.
Lights should be bright enough for people to see across the room. Strobe lighting and psychedelic lighting that pulsate with the beat are not acceptable. Lights on the floor, in the corners of the room, or spotlighting wall and ceiling decorations are appropriate.
Devotionals for Participants in Activities
A brief devotional program may be held as part of an activity. Devotionals typically include a prayer, a hymn or musical selection, remarks by a leader, and a spiritual thought, testimony, or scripture by one or more participants. Such programs can help invite the Spirit and keep activities in perspective.
Fund-raising activities are not usually approved because expenses for stake and ward activities are paid with budget funds. As an exception, a stake president or bishop may authorize one group fund-raising activity each year. Such an activity may be held to raise funds for the following purposes only:
If a fund-raising activity is held, it should provide a meaningful value or service. It should be a positive experience that builds unity.
Contributions to fund-raising activities are voluntary. Priesthood leaders should take special care to ensure that members do not feel obligated to contribute.
Stakes and wards that sponsor fund-raising activities should not advertise or solicit beyond their boundaries. Nor should they sell products or services door to door.
Examples of fund-raising activities that are not approved include:
Any exceptions to these instructions must be approved by a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency.
The Friends of Scouting fund drive in the United States will continue as a separate, voluntary solicitation.
Personal Health and Accident Insurance
In many parts of the world, health and accident insurance coverage is available to Church members through employer-sponsored, personal, or government programs. Where such coverage is available, members are responsible to access all available benefits provided through it if they incur an injury during a Church activity.
Church Activity Medical Assistance Program
In the United States and Canada, the Church Activity Medical Assistance Program provides secondary medical and dental benefits and specific death and dismemberment benefits. This program is primarily designed to supplement, not replace, a person’s own health and accident insurance.
Members who plan, conduct, and supervise activities in these countries should be knowledgeable about the Church Activity Medical Assistance Program, including its restrictions and limitations. The program is outlined in the Church Activity Medical Assistance Handbook, which may be obtained by contacting:Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators
P.O. Box 45530
Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0530
Telephone: 1-801-578-5650 or 1-800-777-1647
Web site: www.dmba.com/churchactivity
Personal Liability Insurance
Where possible, those who oversee activities should protect themselves by carrying reasonable amounts of liability insurance. Such insurance may be available through homeowners insurance or other policies.
Monday nights are reserved for family home evening throughout the Church. No Church activities, meetings, baptismal services, games, or practices should be held after 6:00 p.m. on Mondays. Other interruptions to family home evening should be avoided. An exception may be made when New Year’s Eve is on a Monday (see 13.6.11).
Leaders ensure that Church buildings and other facilities are closed on Monday nights.
Where practical, members may want to encourage community and school leaders to avoid scheduling activities on Monday evenings that require children or parents to be away from their homes.
New Year’s Eve Parties
When New Year’s Eve falls on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, and when Church activities are planned, leaders should observe the following guidelines.
Saturday. The stake president schedules an alternate Sunday for observing fast day. Dancing and similar activities are discontinued at midnight, but refreshments or a meal may be served afterward. Participants should not be kept past a reasonable hour so they can be available for Sunday meetings.
Sunday. (1) Dancing and similar activities may be planned for Saturday, December 30, using the guidelines in the previous paragraph. (2) Instead of Church units planning activities, families may be encouraged to celebrate New Year’s Eve in their homes. Activities should be appropriate for the Sabbath day. (3) Special meetings could be held at a reasonable hour on Sunday evening.
Monday. All families are encouraged to have their family home evenings before participating in public gatherings. No Church-sponsored New Year’s Eve activities should be scheduled before 9:00 p.m. The stake president or bishop may authorize the use of Church buildings on Monday evening in this instance.
Parental permission is required for all overnight activities involving youth (see 13.6.13).
Overnight activities for combined groups of young men and young women or for combined groups of male and female single adults are not authorized unless approved by the stake president and bishop. Such activities are only rarely held, such as for a youth conference or temple visit.
On overnight activities, leaders arrange sleeping accommodations so that male and female participants do not sleep in immediate proximity to each other. Male and female leaders must have separate sleeping facilities. Married couples may share the same quarters if appropriate facilities are available.
When staying in tents, youth may not stay in the same tent as an adult unless (1) the adult is his or her parent or guardian or (2) there are at least two adults in the tent who are the same gender as the youth.
If adult leaders and youth share other overnight facilities, such as a cabin, there must be at least two adults in the facility, and they must be the same gender as the youth.
All overnight activities must include at least two adult leaders.
A sufficient number of adult priesthood leaders must be present at all times during overnight activities to provide support and protection. In the case of Young Women activities, priesthood leaders must stay in facilities separate from the young women.
Leaders fill out an Activity Plan form for all overnight activities.
Overnight activities at Church meetinghouses or meetinghouse grounds are not approved.
Overnight activities at commercial buildings such as sports malls or gyms are not approved. With approval from priesthood leaders, dances or other activities may be held in commercial buildings after closing hours if the activities end at midnight.
Parents or guardians should be informed and give consent when youth participate in a Church activity. Written consent is necessary if an activity involves travel outside the local area (as determined by local leaders) or staying overnight. Leaders may also request written consent for other activities when they feel it is appropriate.
Parents and guardians give this consent by signing the Parental or Guardian Permission and Medical Release form. The person who leads the activity should have a signed form for each participant for each activity that requires written consent.
Participation of Youth under 14 Years of Age
Youth under age 14 do not usually participate in youth conferences or in dances that are held at times other than the regularly scheduled Mutual night.
Portrayal of Deity
God the Father and the Holy Ghost are not to be portrayed in meetings, dramas, or musicals.
If the Savior is portrayed, it must be done with the utmost reverence and dignity. Only brethren of wholesome personal character should be considered for the part. The person who portrays the Savior should not sing or dance. When speaking, he should use only direct quotations of scriptures spoken by the Savior.
At the end of the performance, the person should not wear the costume in the foyer or elsewhere. He should change immediately into street clothes.
The Savior should not be portrayed by children in dramatization except in a nativity scene.
Prayers at Activities
All activities should be opened and, when appropriate, closed with prayer.
Renting Non-Church Facilities for Activities
When Church facilities are inadequate for a stake or multistake activity, facilities may be rented with approval from the bishop or stake president and from Church physical facilities representatives.
Local units may be asked to show evidence of liability insurance when renting or using facilities that are not owned by the Church. The bishop or stake president may obtain a certificate showing evidence of insurance from the Risk Management Division at Church headquarters or from the assigned administrative office. Requests should include the name and address of the requester (normally the owner of the facility), a description and location of the facility, the liability limits required, and other pertinent information. Leaders should plan well in advance to allow time to prepare and mail the certificates.
Reports of Abuse
If a leader becomes aware of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of someone during a Church activity, he or she should contact the bishop immediately. Instructions for bishops are provided in Handbook 1, 17.3.2.
Sabbath Day Observance
No Church-sponsored sports events (such as games, practices, or travel) or recreational events (such as camping or hiking) are to be scheduled on Sunday. Nor should youth groups and others travel to or from camps or youth conferences on Sunday.
When security risks or travel costs are serious issues, leaders can schedule some youth activities on Sunday. Such activities should be separate from the Sunday meeting schedule and in keeping with the spirit of the Sabbath.
Safety Precautions and Accident Response and Reporting
Activities should involve minimal risk of injury or illness to participants. Activities should also involve minimal risk of damage to property. During activities, leaders make every effort to ensure safety. By planning effectively and following safety precautions, leaders can minimize the risk of accidents.
Activities should include appropriate training and proper supervision. They should also be appropriate for the participants’ age and maturity.
Leaders should be prepared for emergencies that may occur. They should also know in advance how to contact local law enforcement and emergency services.
If an accident or injury occurs on Church property or during a Church-sponsored activity, leaders observe the following guidelines, as applicable:
The bishop or stake president should be notified promptly if:
If a person has been seriously injured or is missing, if property has been seriously damaged, or if legal action is threatened or anticipated, the stake president (or a bishop under his direction), promptly takes one of the following actions:
Leaders also report injuries and damage involving Church facilities or property to the facilities manager.
Insurance and Questions
Leaders should review the applicability of the Church Activity Medical Assistance Program if an injury occurred during a Church-sponsored activity, event, or assignment. For information about insurance, see 13.6.9.
The stake president (or a bishop under his direction) refers questions about safety issues or claims against the Church to the Risk Management Division or to the area office.
Church sports activities provide opportunities for wholesome physical activity, fellowship, and sportsmanship. The emphasis in Church sports is on participation, sportsmanship, and skill development, not competition. All team members should have regular opportunities to play.
The stake presidency approves the rules for sports activities sponsored within their stake. If area or multistake sports activities are held, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency approves rules for all participating units. Rules used in local school and community sports activities may be consulted.
If multistake sports activities are held, they are administered by sports specialists who are called by agent stake presidents designated by a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency. Area sports tournaments are not approved.
Participants in Church-sponsored sports activities do not need to be Church members. However, they should live in the stake’s boundaries and agree to follow Church standards and policies.
The stake presidency establishes guidelines that specify the ages at which players may participate in Church sports. These guidelines should take into account the local culture, geographical setting, school system, and rules of governing sports organizations. Such decisions should be made before the start of a season so everyone who is involved understands the age and eligibility rules.
Schools, states, provinces, and national sports organizations often establish rules about playing on school teams and Church teams in the same sport season. Church leaders and participants in Church sports ensure that they follow these rules. Violating them can result in the loss of eligibility for school teams and individuals.
In the United States and Canada, a person who is a member of a school sports team generally is not eligible to participate in the same sport in the same season in the Church sports program. School teams include those associated with junior high or middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities, including junior colleges. This guideline does not apply to those who participate in intramural sports. If two schedules of play are either concurrent or overlapping, they are considered to be in the same season. Leaders encourage youth who play on school teams to assist with Church sports programs in ways other than as players.
Team uniforms should be simple, inexpensive, modest, and appropriate for the activity. Colored T-shirts or pullover reversible shirts are usually sufficient. Uniforms should be paid for from the stake or ward budget.
The presentation of team or individual awards or trophies is discouraged.
Leaders ensure that activities do not jeopardize the Church’s tax-exempt status. For guidelines, see 21.2.
Temple visits are organized on the ward or stake level within the assigned temple district. Organized ward or stake visits to temples outside the assigned temple district are not encouraged. Such visits would require the approval of the stake presidency. Overnight temple visits also require the approval of the stake presidency.
Members who travel in Church-sponsored groups should have the approval of the bishop or stake president. Travel for activities should not place undue burdens on members.
Long-distance travel for activities is discouraged. If a stake president or bishop feels that such travel may be justified, he prayerfully considers the potential spiritual benefits of the activity, the cost of the travel, and the effect on families before approving it.
If long-distance travel for an activity is approved, members should not provide it at their own expense. Nor should significant portions of the stake or ward budget allowance be retained from one year to the next to cover travel expenses.
Travel practices and the application of guidelines in this section should be consistent among units in the same coordinating council. Stake presidents may discuss and agree on general consistency in travel practices during coordinating council meetings.
Leaders fill out an Activity Plan form for activities that involve travel outside the local area.
When a Church activity for youth involves travel outside the local vicinity or staying overnight, parents should give written permission for their children to participate (see 13.6.13). Responsible adult supervision must be provided (see 13.6.2).
When feasible, Church groups should use commercial transportation that is licensed and is protected by liability insurance.
When Church groups travel in private passenger vehicles, each vehicle should be in safe operating condition, and each person should use a seat belt. Each driver should be a licensed, responsible adult. All vehicles and drivers should be covered with reasonable amounts of automobile liability insurance.
Church organizations may not own or acquire automobiles or buses for group travel.
A man and a woman should not travel alone together for Church activities, meetings, or assignments unless they are married to each other or are both single.
Church units may not sponsor the following activities. Leaders, parents, and others who plan or participate in Church activities should be aware of these restrictions.
If a bishop has a question about whether an activity is appropriate, he directs it to the stake president. Stake presidents may address questions to a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency.