Age Changes for Youth Progression and Ordination

This morning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a digital letter to church members and leaders announcing changes in the advancement of youth through the ecclesiastical and ministry structures of the church. Before this announcement, children and youth graduated from Primary (the children’s ministry program) and their respective classes (young women) and ecclesiastical quorums (young men) on their twelfth, fourteenth, and sixteenth birthdays. Today’s announcement indicates that beginning in January 2019, youth will now graduate and advance through their organizations as cohorts at the new year, similar to a school class (you don’t go from sophomore to junior on your birthday). Moreover eleven-year-olds will begin to receive temple recommends for proxy baptisms in January as part of their advancements.

Anecdotally, I understand that having a birthday in December and being the last child to graduate from Primary was always miserable. Also the eleven-year-old with the birthday in August missing girl’s camp was rough. Coupled with two-hour church, which will start at the same time and which will cut the number of classes in half, this change appears to be a move to strengthen individuals’ relationships within each group as they make transitions together.

The Newsroom announcement linked above included a note that ages for ordination are not scriptural, and have changed throughout the history of the Restoration:


Things were a bit more complicated than this, but it is a reasonable summary. Generally, during the first decades of the Restoration, priesthood officers were adults. There are some fascinating exceptions: young men, children, and in a few cases new-born infants. The two primary changes were described by William Hartley, who recently passed away, in two articles. The first changes were instigated by Brigham Young the year he died. In a large ecclesiastical reform, Young announced that young people should be ordained to Aaronic Priesthood offices (Deacon, Teacher, or Priest). The implementation of these changes was fairly uneven. Then in the first decade of the twentieth century, Joseph F. Smith instigated the Priesthood Reform Movement [PDF]. This was a set of progressive reforms that had boys graduate from priesthood office to priesthood office at set ages. Church leaders then have adjusted those ages at various times since.

The history of the Young Women’s organizations is currently being written, and we don’t have nearly the same amount of documented details. My sense is that the ages of advancement have tracked the changes in priesthood ecclesiology.

I think today’s changes are an interesting contrast to the changes in Elders’ Quorums from earlier this year. Whereas the adult priesthood quorums were essentially consolidated, today’s changes reinforce the progressive nature of the youth ecclesiology. Church leader’s see value in the advancement structures for young members, but do not for adults. It seems to me that lingering questions remain relating to the successful transition from intensely progressive youth ministry, to a fairly static adult ministry.

I imagine that in the coming years and months, church leaders will develop an end-of-year graduation routine for young women and men. Logistically this will mean a lot of youth interviews in December.

The big question is whether thirteen-year-old’s will now go to Stake dances and Youth Conferences with their fourteen-year-old cohort. [Edit: Per the attached Q&A, it is an all ahead for dances and camp. You eighteen-year-olds be nice to the thirteen-year-olds, okay?]

Comments

  1. Montana Steve says:

    “eleven-year-olds will begin to receive temple recommends for proxy baptisms in January as part of their advancements”

    Not quite true — “eleven-year-olds can now be interviewed to receive temple recommends…”

    Your comment makes it sound automatic.

    Young men move to a quorum based on age, but actually receiving the Aaronic Priesthood and offices therein is subject to interview and approval.

  2. And will the dating age be 15, so long as you’re a priest/laurel? (I’d support this; I think the increasingly strong emphasis on the age of 16 has actually inhibited our kids from developing in-person relationships.)

    One has to wonder, though, if it wouldn’t have been simpler to just have youth move up from Primary on their birthdays. It seems complex in terms of range of maturity to have some but not all become deacons/beehives at barely 11. And many (most?) will be priests/laurels for nearly three full years–perhaps a good thing, especially in combination with the above.

  3. Mr. Schmidt says:

    Also, in the Q&A, it does say that they can go to dances (as long as parents are OK with it).

  4. “However, a young woman or young man should be at least age 16
    before beginning to date…”

  5. J. Stapley says:

    Montana Steve, that is correct. I was using the conventions we have generally used in the past, and which the announcement used (e.g., in the above image). 12, 14, 16 for priesthood, albeit contingent on “worthiness.” I imagine that they would make the quorum advancement with their cohort regardless (with the emphasis on cohort integrity and all).

  6. I don’t think that’s quite right, Montana Steve. A priesthood quorum consists of those who have been ordained to that office. Unordained boys may meet with the quorum, but I don’t think they actually “move to” the quorum unless they are ordained.

  7. J. Stapley says:

    …and I guess it would be advisable to read the Q&A before posting!

  8. I view this as a pragmatic change, eliminating a stub-year Primary class that’s always been awkward and would be doubly so in a two-hour schedule.

    I expect it to cause some ripples, especially for members who casually view the Priesthood ordination patterns as set in stone or “always been.” (That would not include you, J. Stapley.) I expect and already hear “if they can do that so easily, what else is up for debate?”.

    As a side note, I was ordained 10 days before I turned 12. I’ve wondered if there are more like me, born in the 20th century? It’s only a curiosity, but two weeks from now it won’t even be that.

  9. Please let them announce the end of tithing settlement. That’s a lot of interviews in Dec for bishops and now with the youth advancements.

  10. J. Stapley says:

    Updated the end of the post with Q&A link and info.

    Christian, that is awesomely anomalous. Sorry you are losing that. Similarly, I thought the chronology I captured in the post was somewhat odd, as I and all my brothers were ordained elders at 18.

  11. Mr. Schmidt says:

    @Toad, the letter and Q&A left me with the impression that this would happen in January every year, not just this year. But, thinking about it now, I guess that doesn’t make sense as the children will have already advanced with their cohort Jan 1 (in, say, 2020).

  12. JKC — that’s what I was saying in my head (move = meet with) but I should have been more exact. Thanks

  13. Fair enough. I was probably just being overly pedantic.

  14. Currently in the YW presidency in my ward. Our president raised the question of whether they will change when youth advance into priesthood and relief society. (As of now, if a young woman turns 16 in December, she will spend three years as a laurel, assuming she decides to join the relief society when she turns 18 as is frequently the case. I think 19 is the latest YW are encouraged to join, correct?)

  15. Roger Hansen says:

    Yawn

  16. And, J. thanks for providing the additional context for the historical variation in ordination ages.

  17. Nice points, Stapley — ordaining deacons and moving both boys and girls up to YM and YW almost a year earlier is in line with the steady lowering of age standards. The age for missionary service has bumped down every generation or so, and the age for YM to get the Melchizedek Priesthood is likewise down to 18, high school age.

    It is encouraging to see so many reasonable administrative changes being made when, for so many years, almost nothing happened. Two-hour church! The Gospel Topics Essays suggest there is some doctrinal/historical rethinking going on behind the scenes as well. Perhaps some doctrinal changes or adjustments to the canon will come out of that rethinking in this new climate of change (strangely mingled with this new era of retrenchment).

  18. This isn’t entirely new. As far back as the 50’s and 60’s, all youth classes in Primary, YW and YM advanced as a class each year irregardless of individual ages, moving forward at the beginning of the school year in September. The adults had a change of curriculum in September also. I think it was in September 1980 that the change of curriculum and advancement was moved to January to facilitate unity across an expanding worldwide church, as not all countries started school in September .

  19. I’m a Boomer who graduated with my Merrihand (talk about dreadful names!) class into Young Women’s. Except for having to sing the absolute worst song in Mormon history (“We Are Leaving Primary”) I liked knowing that my friends were going to be with me during all of the big YW transitions.

  20. Whoops! I accidentally hit the wrong key. Years later as the Beehive leader and second counselor in my ward YW I saw far too many Beehives, Mia Maids and Laurels dread the birthday where they would leave the comfort of close friends and have to try to fit in with a new, older group of girls. In a Zion society this kind of age promotion would work beautifully. However, in my experience, one of the things that made girls choose to give up on YW was the feeling that they didn’t belong when they moved up to an older group as a single individual. Perhaps our ward’s girls were extra cliquey, but I don’t think so because I’ve heard of similar stories from female family members and friends who were YW leaders and those who advanced to the next group all by themselves.

  21. Where do the kids go when they reach 19? I have a child who will be turning 18 next year, but is only a junior in high school. Would he move into the Elder’s Quorum in the middle of his Senior year? Can they stay in the upper age group as long as they like?

  22. I liked moving to different third hour groups on my birthday because it created a mix of being around different people.

  23. I guess they finally realized that 11 year old boys are plenty mature to become deacons, just like 18 year old boys fresh out of high school are plenty mature to be missionaries, and 8 year old girls are basically ready to participate in the women’s conference…

    I will note that in the early days, like when everyone was a farmer, boys as young as 12 could be recommended to receive the endowment, if they were “serious minded” enough. That was when one’s recommend was literally the bishop looking around the congregation and recommending people, not like now where we seek a recommendation. I read that in Mysteries of Godliness, so if any historians like Stapley or wvs want to elaborate, feel free.

  24. My daughter with a December birth is thrilled that even though she just turned 11 she will be going into Beehives.

    Otherwise… yawn.

  25. Chris – Yes. That is how it happened. 1980 was when we moved to the 3 hour block and the YM/YW moved from September rotations, to January rotations. I have been commenting about this all day. This is a the more things change. The more they stay the same.

  26. J., I was also ordained an Elder at 18.

  27. JKC I’m always overly pedantic myself!

  28. Left Field says:

    Yes, elder ordinations have been at 18, going back at least until the ’70s. The Newsroom must have thought that the ordination age changed when they lowered the minimum missionary age (was that in 2012? seems like it’s been longer). Also, the way they have listed the age is unclear. Priests at ages 16-18 is correct only in that you are in the priest’s quorum until the day you are exactly 18 years old. 18-year-olds are with the elders, not the priests, though sometimes they are known to linger longer.

    Eleven-year-olds have always hated that last year in Primary. They just gave a big cheer for the new policy.

    I’ve never liked the arbitrary segregation of 11-year-old scouts, and as a scoutmaster, I’ve always tried to integrate them into the full troop as much as possible. Of course, this will be an issue only through the end of 2019, but it’s good that at least some 11-year-olds will officially join the main troop until LDS scouting goes away. The Q&A says that boys will continue to advance to “11-year-old scouts” on their birthday, but then move to the full troop when they join the deacon’s quorum. That will mean an even smaller cohort of 11 year old scouts next year. They should have just done away with the 11 year old distinction for the last year of LDS scouting.

  29. The eleven year old scout troop will be wiped clean in January, then slowly add boys thru this final year. I would hate to be the boy in my ward who turns 11 on January 10th and is alone in the (3 ward combined) troop for 4 months!

    Timing this release with a couple of weeks notice right at a very busy Christmas season was an example of me of why more women are needed on the general level. Women (at least in the U.S.) are doing the vast majority of work involved with the Christmas season, now primary and young women presidencies have a couple weeks to scramble to adjust classes, teacher assignments, welcome and inform girls suddenly going to activity days and yw. Mothers are stressing about kids who have not completed faith in God and thinking we had several months to prep our 11 year old boys for priesthood ordination. If a woman with kids at home had been asked about this, I imagine this announcement would have been made in October to give (those saintly) mothers a fighting chance at getting it all done before Christmas rather than during. Yes, super exciting especially for that awkward 11 year old to escape primary… just wish we had more notice.

  30. As one of the younger kids of my cohort, in the current system, I could always count on being the oldest at church for half a year. It gave me a chance to be Deacon’s Quorum president, etc. In the new system the youngest kids will never, well, hardly ever, have a chance at quorum leadership. I do not know what that means.

  31. 1. [Interesting/Predictable] that the ages always get younger.

    2. The priests in all my wards have often had dating activities, but now they will have 15 year olds who aren’t supposed to date.

    3. Interesting that most presidencies will have to change in January as many of them will be older kids who all automatically advance

    4. For advancement to elders, there has long been flexibility. In the nineties, I became an elder at 18. I believe the guidance was that stake presidents should make every effort to Ordain all “worthy” men who were over 18 and graduated from high school.

  32. Esteemed Stanford Business School Professor and author of several respected business books (including the NYT best seller Good To Great) Jim Collins wrote a book a few years ago titled “How the Mighty Fail”. In it he looked for predictable patterns that emerge as a once mighty and esteemed corporation begins to slide from what once looked like invincibility all the way to complete extinction. One of the patterns he identified is a sudden barrage of changes as the corporate leadership, lacking a well crafted and comprehensive plan, lurches about with one new policy change after another as they desperately try to stop the bleeding and stabilize.

    Sadly, over the past year or two I’ve started to come to the ominous realization that our Church may very well be exhibiting some of the patterns that Collins put forth. I hope I’m wrong.

  33. Fred,
    What makes you think the recent changes have been without a “well crafted and compreshensive plan” and are an attempt to “desperately try to stop the bleeding and stabalize?”

  34. In the 90’s I as ordained at 18 but before finishing High School… but endowment waited until after graduation.

  35. Deseret Defender, Please read my comment more carefully.

  36. Fred,
    I re-read your comment and am not sure what you think I missed. Care to help me out?

  37. The change is fine and, as other have noted, letting them move with their age cohort has some advantages. But I’m with EJ about wishing we had more time to implement this. Two weeks notice in my ward means the Miamaid, Beehive, Deacon, and Teacher presidencies will be completely vacated and need replacements all in the next month. That affects class time counsel (a recent addition to the curriculum), BYC, stake youth council, and class activity plans. Plans for camp and youth conference (already well underway) have to be redone/budgets readjusted to include the additional kids. The Laurel and Priest classes have suddenly swelled to (functionally) include all 15-18+ year olds at once. By summertime it will all be sorted, but the immediate future will require a whole lot of chaos that could have been saved by an earlier announcement, or by including this with the other major changes slated for 2020.

  38. Fingers crossed the next announcement gets rid of “priesthood preview”.

  39. I am mostly excited about these changes. My eleven year old is thrilled. I am currently serving as YW President and will now have about 40 young women, 20 of them Laurels. I worry about creating unity when we no longer meet together for opening exercises on Sunday. I worry about connecting with 20 Laurels individually and helping them each to feel valued and needed, when only 4 can serve in the presidency. Maybe we can form other committees?

  40. Left Field says:

    If the new policy kills the awful custom of calling class and quorum presidencies based on seniority, that will be a good thing.

  41. Jack of Hearts says:

    Amen, Left Field. I didn’t even realize it was a custom so I was surprised to here about it from so many commenters here.

  42. Left Field says:

    Nothing in the Handbook suggests that the oldest person gets to be the president. But once you start down that path, then you lose all control of what happens. You create an expectation that the “next person in line” will be called when the current president advances. And then you’re at the mercy of birthdays. If Bob’s birthday is in March, Frank’s is in early November, and Bill’s is in late November, then Bob is going to be deacon’s quorum president for 7 months, and Frank will be deacon’s quorum president for 2 weeks. But maybe Bob is awful at the calling and just uses it as a stick to bully the other deacons. Maybe Frank would benefit from the leadership experience, and would do an excellent job. The youth learn that just being older puts you in charge, instead of learning that good leaders can come from anywhere.

    And unless someone moves in or out of the ward, the process repeats in the teachers and priests.

    I’ve resisted this whenever I’ve been in a calling involving the AP/YM. One bishop just loved the seniority system. Probably because he didn’t have to make any decisions. I finally got him to agree that it would be a good idea to release “Bob” before his birthday, but he either didn’t make it a priority, or else he just wasn’t willing to go any further than releasing Bob two weeks “early,” and calling “Frank” for 4 weeks instead of two.

    I would hope that in the new system, they can call new presidencies from time to time, without age being the deciding factor.

  43. Left Field says:

    I got that wrong. Frank would be president for 7 months, and Bill for 2 weeks. But you get the idea.

    And if I were making the policy, I would say that boys who turn 11 during 2019 should normally join a non-LDS troop if they want to participate in scouting. I would leave the door open if they want to participate in the LDS troop for their first year, perhaps so they could participate with an older brother.

  44. Nelson is definitely taking steps to impact the day to day life and rhythms of active Mormons. I can see why this causes so much buzz among my active friends because it impacts their lives. 2 hour church, asking them to change ingrained semantics, missionary ages, now this change. Do I think all the revelation talk is overblown? Sure, but for strongly adhered Mormons it means lots of reorganizing at the ward and family levels. From a macro perspective I think we can say that it is definitely creating an energy and feeling of dynamism for them that has been lacking for quite awhile. I personally think that speaks to how rigid and moribund the church has been in these areas for a long time rather than how amazing these changes are. But I am happy for my active Mormon friends that some generally positive steps are happening no matter how neutral or small.

    Imagine what would happen if they did something fundamentally significant like say change the administrative power of women in some real way or release some fresh, challenging doctrine that didn’t feel like reifying 1950s gender roles.

  45. I think it makes sense in a general sense, but my 10 year-old(turning 11 in February) is devastated. Rather than getting to join his buddies in 11 year-old scouts, he will be the only one for months, then there will be 2 until next December. With big changes, there are always people for whom the change isn’t ideal, but I really hate the it’s my sweet 10 year old the gets the shaft on this one.

  46. AK Transplanted says:

    Fred,

    These changes can definitely be seen as a bleeding organization trying to appear more dynamic, but that interpretation ignores the historical context, which the OP explains well. When looked at over the scope of church history, it is clear that changes such as these are more he norm than the exception. They seem momentous to us because none have happened so frequently in recent memory.

  47. I had a late birthday and so spent a good 3+ months as the oldest in sharing time. In some ways it was nice as being a quieter type, I got frequently overlooked, but actually got to participate being the only person on the back row (even my teacher started going to RS). Perhaps that is why I’m a bit sad that we’ve lost an individual marker or celebration in our church. My friends who were Jewish had their bar and batmitzvahs, I went to some quinenecera celebrations, and had friends who prepared for other religious coming of age ceremonies. The change will have positive benefits but I enjoyed the little attention I got as an individual on my 12th birthday.

  48. In my ward today the bishopric announced that they will not be ordaining young men in January as soon as they are eligible, but rather they will monitor their maturity and Ordain then when the bishop deems then ready.

  49. Not a Cougar says:

    Rockwell, wow, has this bishop ever met a young man? None of our young men are what I would describe as “mature.” To quote Creedence, I see a bad moon risin’.

  50. Disgruntled Scoutmaster says:

    I think this change may significantly make things much more difficult for boys who are trying to ride the last wave to obtain an eagle rank in scouting. From my experience, most serious scouting is done at the Deacons level and moving 13 year old boys to the Teachers quorum may put them in quorums that do not have infrastructure to support scouting for the next year. Of course the boys can always do scouting mainly on their own or that quorums can adjust and take up a re-emphasized focus on scouting as Teachers, but in either case, these changes make already a lame-duck year that much more difficult for any boys/leaders really striving to take advantage of the scouting program (as we’ve been directed to do………) before the respective charter expires. Doesn’t make sense (yet?) that they seemingly rushed this change out (or at least gave extremely insignificant notice) given these (and other) material hardships on members when these changes could have been put off a year to correlate with the new YW/YM program that’s coming. Maybe time will give a better perspective on this……..but I’m not optimistic.

  51. My daughter was a December baby. Our ward had single digit numbers of YW/YM with the exception of about a dozen girls born the year before her. The last bumper crop of kids. She was the most energetic and outgoing of the bunch, their natural leader. During her last year in primary, her friends slowly bled away into the YW program leaving her stranded in a romper room that was taught by women with children no older than babes in arms. It was absolutely miserable for her.

    She didn’t take it quietly. She repeatedly tried to crash YW and was sent back to primary. She started sluffing church and leading most of her friends out to play in the nearby woods and on the temple grounds behind locked gates on adjacent property. Parents of little girls that age expect them to be within the relative safety of the church building, not unsupervised out where they are far more vulnerable to real risks to their safety. She renamed her self Jo (at church only) and they changed the song, Follow the prophet, to- Follow (3 syllable girl’s name) she knows the way (out the backdoor or through the bathroom window and into the woods).

    At her worst, she infuriated a counselor in the bishopric to the point that he slapped her in the face and she kicked him in the groin. I suspect she said something that could not be ignored. But it was the duty of me or my wife to deal with it and impose something that might actually work. (Take away their phone is more effective than hitting teenagers, etc.) My wife was furious and we came close to calling the police. Under the best of circumstances she might have still been rebellious at that age, except she seemed to be a model of good behavior in every other one of her endeavors. The periodic turmoil about where she belonged at church definitely did not help.

    The one time she went to summer camp, they separated this group of friends based on who was born in the first part of the year from those born in the last part of the year.This infuriated the girls- who then stayed up all night sneaking around to visit each other after lights-off and pulling pranks. Cell phones were used to call boyfriends to come visit them in the middle of the night while exhausted leaders slept.

    She had been to other camps before, not related to church, and never created enough trouble to raise our attention. She came home from church girl’s camp a mess, so angry and rebellious. It required several weeks for her to detox back to normal. She never returned to church girl’s camp, it was not a safe place for her.

    She was never officially in charge because of her age but often took charge.This created endless conflict between YW leaders whose daughters understood and appreciated her and YW leaders without children that age who constantly got into power struggles with her which they usually lost, because her peers were loyal and liked her. By her senior year, she was through with the YW program, although she maintained friendships with the girls at church.

    Somehow through all this turmoil they brought 2 of their friends into the waters of baptism. For perspective, this once little sassy brat is now in her late 20’s, a part-time professional classic musician and the marketing director of a small nonprofit with a staff of about a dozen. Her little team raised 30 million dollars more in the last 4 years than was done in the 4 years before that.

    I applaud this change. It should have been done decades ago, but better late than never.

  52. @not a cougar

    To be fair, I’m not sure that the word “mature” was actually used; I’m just trying to relay the gist of what I heard.

    I suspect that they are trying to take to heart this part of the announcement from lds.org: “young men will be eligible to be ordained to a priesthood office in January of the year they turn 12, 14, and 16, and youth will be eligible to obtain a limited-use temple recommend beginning in January of the year they turn 12—based on their ‘individual worthiness, readiness, and personal circumstances.'” (emphasis added)

    I don’t think this was the intent of the announcement, and it has the potential to make getting the priesthood earlier a short of status symbol, but time will tell in both counts.

  53. Michael, I also have a December baby (actually, two of them) and have been worrying about the change. I so appreciated your comment. My daughter has no friends her year at church but is very close with the year just older than her (her class has only two very rowdy, special needs little boys who “play rough” I.e. hit and kick, and she doesn’t like being around them). I appreciate the idea of her being with her friends sooner rather than waiting an extra 11 months in a class she’s already struggling with as a sunbeam. I’m still not a huge fan of my son being ordained a deacon at age 11 years and 10 days, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

  54. I don’t think the “individual worthiness, readiness, and personal circumstances” clause is intended to be a new provision that allows a bishop to arbitrarily postpone ordinations because he feels like it. It just means that the young men are ordained under the same criteria as currently. If you’re attending church and “pass” the normal worthiness interview, you should be ordained soon after you meet the new age requirement, the same as now.

  55. Does this now mean that in 2 weeks 1/2 of the youth are going to be called to the pulpit so they can be recognized as moving into the next class? Or to sustain priesthood advancement for 1/2 of all the YM at once?

  56. Ordinations are supposed to be sustained by the congregation, so they will be done as they occur (the Bishop must conduct interviews first, which may take a while). Mere advancement to classes is not supposed to be recognized in sacrament meeting, according to the instructions. (I’ll probably ignore that)

  57. Mr. Schmidt says:

    @cloves – not sure if you’re still looking, but I know that in my experience, while boys are in high school they are allowed to stay with the priests group. And, this was done after the age lowered to 18 for missionary service.

  58. Ordinations stil happen from the pulpit, individuals changing classes from Primar or within YM/YW will not.

  59. In my ward, we are having unhappy older kids. It’s hard to keep the 17 and 18 year olds coming, they are busy and feel they have outgrown the youth program a bit. They are feeling salty about suddenly having kids who just reached 15 join their quorums. 11 year olds have felt too old for primary, but 18 year olds aren’t very happy about their combined activities including kids who aren’t even old enough to babysit.

  60. Some of the Laurels in our ward literally babysit and summer nanny for some of the new Beehives and Deacons.

  61. Mary Bliss says:

    Mormom, that may actually be a good thing. It is easier and more comfortable to mentor and fellowship an 11 year old who is feeling a bit new when you have previously had occasions when you were responsible for him/her, than it is to mentor and fellowship a much younger kid you don’t know. And that sense of being comfortably familiar with each other is of benefit to both as they participate in a church program or organization that has Christlike mutual support and service as one of its foundational purposes.

    I thnk those babysitting Laurels who understand that will find their babysitting and nannying experiences to be an asset.

  62. Mary Bliss says:

    A good young women’s program, in my experience, is one that supports its participants from the insecure self-focus of “how do I fit in and is it fun” mode of 11 or 12 through the phases needed to emerge at the other end as a young person who has learned the instrinsic pleasure of forgetting self in the process of fellowshipping and serving others.
    When young women make that journey well and are starting to really get it by age 16 or so, it is a real blessing to those who are following a few years behind

  63. Mary Bliss says:

    The goal isn’t to get those older young women to keep coming. It’s not attendence that measures our success. It’s how well me understand that and assist them to make that journey.

  64. Mary Bliss says:

    I would say the same about priesthood quorums as well.

  65. I understand that that is the ideal of the YW and YM program. In my personal experience, attendance drops off a cliff at that age already. We lose a lot of our youth between highschool graduation and mission age- one reason why the mission age was lowered.

    My point is, everyone is focusing on how great this will be for the 11 year olds to not have to be with the 7 year olds in Senior primary anymore. That’s only a 4 year age difference. The Laurels class will have nearly the same age span.

    Like primary losing the interest of the oldest kids, we should worry about losing the interest of the oldest youth. People are naturally self-centered at 16-18 still. It isn’t a failure of character if an 18 year old decides that quilt making with the 11 year olds isn’t as interesting as their homework or friends. However, if the 17 and 18 year olds aren’t coming anymore, they will be missing opportunities to be mentored.

  66. Michael H. says:

    Michael: Thanks for your story about your daughter. I’m sorry for the grief you all went through, but . . . what a cool kid, and a genuine leader!

  67. Michael H. says:

    Our daughter Katie was a late November baby, and the youngest of her branch cohort. She wasn’t as overtly (delightfully!) subversive as Michael’s daughter, but like her was a natural, dynamic leader. The first year all her branch friends were eligible for Camp, the YW president at the time was a nazi. The branch president–a very sweet old man–was afraid of her, and recused himself. We took it to the stake level, and they were all wimps, too. And at that point, so were Mom and Dad, I’m ashamed to say. Katie didn’t go to Camp until the next year, and was grouped with “younger” branch and stake girls at Camp the rest of her YW years. It’s just a First-World Problem, and not big a deal, but my wife and I are still kicking ourselves, all these years later. Long story short, though it comes about fifteen years too late for US, I’m happy about the change. However cosmetic, however much of a lurch it may be, however much it’s not addressing core issues, we need these little things, too.

  68. There were lots of Young Men my age in my age growing up. The Bishop endes up forming a New Elders class for the 18 – 21 year old Elders in the ward. It was taught by some of the 21 – 25 year old Elders.