SALT LAKE CITY — Details of the new global children and youth initiative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were outlined Sunday in a live Face to Face broadcast originating at the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
“Today, we introduce the whole children and youth program,” said Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who called the initiative for youth between the ages of 7 and 18 “exciting and unique.”
“Built around a gospel core, this is our single Church effort for all our youth and children everywhere, and it focuses on you discovering and becoming your best divine self through activities and service, learning and growth,” said Elder Gong.
The new initiative will replace the Church’s existing children and youth programs on January 1, 2020.
Hundreds of Latter-day Saint youth and families filled the Tabernacle for what was described as the biggest Face-to-Face event ever hosted by the Church. It was broadcast in 18 languages to more than 140 countries.
“The new program helps you invite God into all aspects of your life,” Elder Gong told the audience.
The apostle was joined by several general officers of the Church who oversee the youth programs, including Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president; Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president; and Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men general president.
The leaders fielded questions that were submitted from youth around the world.
“For me, this program helps us achieve a balanced and Christlike life,” added Brother Owen. “Each of you will be better able to serve Heavenly Father and other people as you strive to grow in all aspects of your life.”
The new program includes activities for families, children and young men and women.
“Activity Days are now called Primary activities, and they are for girls, and they are for boys,” said Sister Jones. Leaders hope the activities will be held two to four times per month.
Young men and women will organize regular activities, weekly where possible. “Leaders, we hope that you will mentor, guide and support the youth as they do this,” encouraged Sister Cordon.
Sister Cordon said camps will continue for the young men and women.
“Young Women camp is a glorious tradition, and our annual multiday camp will continue.”
“Campouts and outdoor activities are very important,” added Brother Owen. “It’s up to you to decide how to make them work where you live.”
In addition to camps, treks and youth conferences, Elder Gong also discussed the multiday For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences that will be held for young men and women.
Under the youth development part of the program, children and young men and women are encouraged to develop new talents, interests and skills and prepare for missionary service, education, work and family.
Elder Gong said the goals that the youth set for themselves are “at the heart” of the children and youth program.
“You can prayerfully decide how many goals you set, and when you want to accomplish them,” he said.
Guidebooks will be distributed to help the youth plan and accomplish their goals.
Primary children, beginning the year they turn 8 years of age, are encouraged to start setting one goal per year in each area of growth. Young men and women are urged to set at least two goals per year in each area of growth.
Elder Gong also unveiled the new Gospel Living app that will be available in 2020 for youth to journal, track their progress and access uplifting music, videos, memes and inspirational messages.
“Properly used, technology can help you live the gospel in a noisy, distracting and consuming world,” he said.
In mid-2020, youth will receive emblems of belonging at ages 8, 12 and 18, as well as emblems of achievement as they reach personal goals.
Children and youth logos include a temple symbol and the words “Strive to Be.”
“These logos invite us to become more like our Savior by following His temple covenant path,” explained Elder Gong.
The youth Instagram account can now be found at StrivetoBe. Youth can share their experiences on social media using #StrivetoBe.
When children turn 8, they will receive a picture of the temple and a ring.
Twelve-year-old young men will receive a special ring, and young women will be given a medallion containing a gemstone. They will also receive temple recommend holders.
Young women will receive a pendant to add to their necklace the year they turn 18, reminding them to prepare to make and keep temple covenants. The year young men turn 18, they will receive a vial for consecrated oil that can be used for priesthood blessings.
When youth fulfill their significant personal goals and gospel requirements, they can earn a special certificate signed by the First Presidency and a Christus statue.
Also in the Face-to-Face broadcast, a new Aaronic priesthood quorum theme was recited for the first time, along with the new Young Women theme that was announced during the recent women’s session of general conference.
Guest artist David Archuleta performed the 2020 youth theme song and video. A new Primary song was also introduced.
The broadcast can be viewed on the Church’s YouTube channel. For more information, visit ChildrenAndYouth.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.