Honest! This really isn’t an English lesson. But how did an adjective like “mutual” wind up being used as a noun? After all, the rest of the world uses the word in phrases like “mutual interests,” or “mutual friends,” or “mutual advantage.” But we Latter-day Saints talk about “going to Mutual.”
Well, it all goes back to a time your parents or grandparents will remember, a time when we had the something called “Mutual Improvement Association.” The last two words were eventually dropped. But since “mutual” often refers to having something in common, or to something that benefits two or more people, that word stuck. Because it does describe friends with a common interest (the gospel) getting together to everyone’s advantage.
Mutual is the weeknight activity where teens can meet in a relaxed setting to socialize and put into practice the gospel principles taught on Sunday. It is a time to become better friends with the teens in your ward or branch, and it is also the perfect opportunity to reach out to less-active youth and invite friends who want to learn more about the Church.
Here are the instructions your leaders are asked to follow in overseeing Mutual.
Mutual should meet on the same day, at the same time, and in the same place each week and should last around one to one-and-a-half hours.
Opening exercises should be held each week for about 10 to 15 minutes. The Laurel class presidency and the assistants to the bishop in the priests quorum take turns conducting. Opening exercises should include a hymn, a prayer, and also may include talks, musical selections, song practice, and opportunities for youth to share their talents and testimonies.
Class or quorum activities can be from 30 to 70 minutes. Activities can include learning new skills or giving service. Also, activity time can be used to fulfill Duty to God and Personal Progress requirements.
Practice or social activities are optional but can follow class or quorum activities and last about 30 minutes.
Combined Young Women and Aaronic Priesthood activities should take place once a month so the youth in your ward can learn to work together and support each other in living gospel principles.
Each year, Mutual will stress different areas of development. For example, one year service will be emphasized. The following year it may be drama, music, speech, sports, or dance. Then your ward or stake can plan events around these annual themes. Preparation for the event should be done during Mutual.
One of the greatest things about Mutual night is that it is a good place to spend time doing worthwhile activities and encouraging friendships. It’s a place where teens can spend time laughing together and having wholesome fun, as well as learning more about living the gospel.
One girl who was introduced to the gospel by Mutual was Candace Read of Colorado Springs, Colorado. She says that when she was 15 she wanted to find a friend she could trust not to swear around her. She met Kimberly in algebra class. Kimberly invited Candace to eat lunch with her friends. Candace says, “I really liked all of them. They all seemed so good-natured and free of the distasteful things of the world. Kimberly invited me to come to Mutual. All of these friends that I knew from school would be there. Of course I went. I loved the way Mutual made me feel.”
From there, Candace was invited to meet the missionaries. She learned to pray, and she learned of the truthfulness of the gospel. When it came time for her to marry, she married in the temple, and she and her husband have six children, all actively working on gaining the blessings of the gospel. Candace says, “I am so grateful to have a friend who set a good example for me that I might have these blessings in my life.”
“Some of the great blessings of these programs that have been developed are that as the youth of the Church, you will have a clear understanding of who you are, you will be accountable for your actions, you will take responsibility for the conduct of your life, and you will be able to set goals so that you might achieve what you were sent to earth to achieve.”
—Elder Robert D. Hales
Ensign, Nov. 2001, 39