During a recent conversation, Nathan Smith was discussing the Godhead with a friend.
The three are one, said the friend, who is a member of another faith. Nathan promptly opened his Bible to Matthew 3:16-17, and read: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Without contention, Nathan pointed out that this shows that Heavenly Father, His Son, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct beings. The two continued their discussion by watching a Church video. This is not uncommon in the Church as members are counseled to share the gospel with others.
Nathan is 10 years old.
It is just such accounts that have delighted members of the Primary general presidency these past months as LDS children have been learning about the baptism of the Savior and how "I Will Make and Keep My Baptismal Covenant," the theme for the 2000 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation. Though this year's sacrament meeting presentations — given during the fourth quarter of each year in wards and branches throughout the Church — are concluding, Primary General President Coleen K. Menlove hopes the importance of making and keeping baptismal covenants will remain in their hearts forever.
"We've been seeing the children taught how to make and keep baptismal covenants, from understanding what covenants are and why they're important, to what happens when they're baptized, what Heavenly Father promises them and what they promise Heavenly Father," Sister Menlove told the Church News.
During an interview which included her first counselor, Sister Sydney S. Reynolds, the two auxiliary leaders spoke of the success of sacrament meeting presentations they've observed and of the importance of children having and then sharing their own spiritual experiences in their own words. The annual sacrament meeting presentation, Sister Menlove emphasized, is an important teaching moment — for both children and members of the ward family.
"It's really a wonderful opportunity for children to share what they've learned throughout the year with their families and other members of the ward in a setting where they're used to hearing the gospel taught," Sister Reynolds explained.
Only this time, she added, they are the teachers. In some wards, she related, children actually asked bishops or teachers, who were included in the program, the questions suggested in the sacrament meeting presentation outline. These questions included: "Why is it important for me to be baptized?" and "How will keeping my baptismal covenant help me follow Jesus throughout my life?"
The leaders then redirected the questions to other groups of children who shared personal experiences in answer.
And as a result, Sister Menlove said, the children are learning the concepts of the gospel and the meanings of words. "The words are defined so that children understand."
"This helps them expand," Sister Reynolds quickly added. "They understand [for example] that a covenant is a promise between the children and their Father in Heaven."
The music in the sacrament meeting presentation outline is especially useful in helping children learn concepts. For example, children in the Inwood 1st Ward, New York New York Stake, were sent home with the words to the songs and the music on audiocassette. During the sacrament meeting presentation, Melisande Peralta related: "I look forward to being baptized by my dad when I am 8. I believe that in order to be baptized it is important to go to Church as much as possible. I also believe it is important to go to Church after I am baptized. My little brother and I love Primary, especially singing time. I love singing the Primary songs, especially those we are singing today."<
Also expressing some personal feelings was Naisha Frolio: "I believe that an important way to keep my baptismal covenants is to help others in need. Jesus always helped others. He even died for us. One time at school some kids were picking on another child. I knew it was wrong and so I stepped in and helped the child being picked on. It is important to help others in need. It is what Jesus would want all of us to do. I am looking forward to being baptized and officially joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
Sister Menlove and her counselors hope that priesthood leaders, Primary leaders and parents will continue to encourage children to express their own spiritual feelings and make notes for future Sharing Times and sacrament meeting presentations — especially now as they prepare for the 2001 theme: "Follow the Prophet."