Who says Friday is a dumping ground for news you want forgotten? Not Church headquarters.
On December 14, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced sweeping changes for the way youth are to progress through their various quorums or auxiliaries, moving to a calendar-based approach as opposed to advancement upon one’s birthday.
The letter, to be read in sacrament meeting, states that beginning in January 2019, children who will be turning 12 at any point in the year will leave Primary and start attending their respective youth Sunday school and Beehive or deacons quorum class.
Previously, those turning 12 were in a bit of limbo, as they would “graduate” to Young Women or Young Men, which matriculated based on birth date, while remaining in Primary until the next calendar year, as that organization has based its class advancements on a January-December timetable.
Naturally, that split structure won’t work starting next year, when meetings shift to a two-hour block.
This advancement structure will apply across all of one’s participation in Young Men or Young Women. Young Men will advance in priesthood office not around their birthday, but in January of the year in which they turn 12, 14, or 16. Likewise, Young Women will advance to Beehives, Mia Maids, or Laurels, in January of the respective birthday year.
Youth will also be able to obtain a limited-use temple recommend in January of that same year instead of on the birthday.
So in a nutshell, yes, 11-year-old boys will soon be passing the sacrament. If your birthday is December 31, you basically get a bonus year of priesthood responsibility in your life!
The First Presidency said these changes are to “strengthen our beloved children and youth through increased faith in Jesus Christ, deeper understanding of His gospel, and greater unity with His Church and its members.”
Will this lead to a future where prospective missionaries will be allowed to enter the field in January of their 18th or 19th birthday year? That’s mere speculation, but it could prove interesting. (It would also create a crazy logjam of missionaries in the MTC and in the mission field, so don’t bet on it.)
But it does mean 15-year-old boys could perform baptisms in the temple.
Ward executive secretaries (hey, like me!) are now bracing for the storm. January just became crunch time.