SALT LAKE CITY — The new initiative to replace the Boy Scouts and Personal Progress programs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is called "Children and Youth" and will be rolled out in September in a special worldwide satellite broadcast.
The church is exiting its century-old relationship with Scouting and retiring some of its other core activities for teenagers, like Personal Progress in its Young Women program.
President M. Russell Ballard, the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, will lay out the new initiative to replace those programs in a broadcast on Sept. 29, according to a letter sent Monday to general authorities and officers of the church and local leaders around the world. Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will host a Face to Face broadcast about "Children and Youth" on Nov. 17.
"The principles taught in this effort for children and youth represent a higher, holier way to encourage the rising generation to follow Jesus Christ and apply his gospel in all areas of their lives," the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles say in a statement in a guidebook to the program. "This major effort will include gospel learning, the privilege of service, personal development, and exciting activities."
The Young Women program will move forward without Personal Progress and Faith in God for Girls. Boys will no longer have Scouting, Duty to God or Faith in God for Boys.
Amy Rogers Douglass, a mother in Rancho Cucamonga, California, earned her Young Womanhood Recognition through the Personal Progress program as a girl. Now her 15-year-old daughter is doing Personal Progress.
"I have helped my daughter work her way through up to this point, and it has been a strength for her," Douglass said. "It has been a blessing in bringing the spirit and helping her grow as she works on it each Sabbath day."
Douglass said she recognized the need for an update.
"Because my daughter is growing up in a situation different than mine was, I know that the new programs will be even more beneficial to her personally," she said.
A website has been published for leaders in preparation for the change at ChildrenandYouthLeaders.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The site includes an introductory guide for parents and another for children and youth. Both guides are available only in English.
The new Children and Youth program will begin Jan. 1, 2020, for congregations that worship in English, Spanish, Portuguese and 15 other languages — American Sign Language, Cantonese, Cebuano, French, German, Hiligaynon, Ilokano, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Samoan, Tagalog and Tongan.
Meanwhile, girls and boys have until Dec. 31 to finish the retiring programs. For example, girls can complete Personal Progress and receive their Young Womanhood Recognition by then, as can boys who want to finish the Duty to God program. Children in the Primary program can complete the Faith in God program by then, too. Exceptions can be made for those who need additional time. The awards will be available for order until March 1, 2020.
The church has encouraged those who wish to participate in Scouting to join local community groups.
The goal of the new initiative is to deepen conversion through gospel learning, personal development and service and activities. It is based on the church's renewed emphasis on home-centered, church-supported learning, which has led to major changes, including a new churchwide curriculum for Sunday School and other classes and more family gospel study in place of one hour of Sunday meetings.
A new mobile app called Gospel Living will be released at the end of 2019 to support "Children and Youth." A guide says the app will help young people live Christ-centered lives by providing inspiring content, reminders, personal goals and more.
Leaders will receive more information on name changes for activities and meeting in October. That release will also include information on uniformity and adaptation. One known goal of the initiative is to equalize experiences for girls and boys. Another is to equalize them for youth and children in North America and around the world. At the same time, leaders also are being encouraged to adapt the resources to local needs and customs.
Printed copies of the guidebooks will be sent to congregations in November and December.
Children and Youth will roll out on March 1, 2020, to congregations that worship in 34 more languages — Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Bislama, Bulgarian, Cambodian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Fijian, Finnish, Greek, Haitian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Kekchi, Kiribati, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malagasy, Malay, Marshallese, Mongolian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Swahili, Swedish, Tahitian, Thai, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.