By Jeffrey Borders
As announced yesterday (May 8) in a joint statement with the Boy Scouts of America, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will conclude its more than 100 year relationship with the BSA as of Dec. 31, 2019. Until that time, the intention of the Church is to have all young boys 8-13 continue to actively participate in the scouting organization.
This change continues the LDS Church’s movement to realign its youth programs to better fit a rapidly growing global membership.
In a joint statement, The Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the following, “In this century of shared experience, the Church has grown from a U.S.-centered institution to a worldwide organization, with a majority of its membership living outside the United States. That trend is accelerating. The Church has increasingly felt the need to create and implement a uniform youth leadership and development program that serves its members globally. In so doing, it will be necessary for the Church to discontinue its role as a chartered partner with BSA.”
For many years, LDS troops have been a backbone of the Scouting organization, and the largest faith-based chartering organization. LDS boys comprised one in six American Scouts. This move follows a similar move in May of 2017, when the Church announced it would drop scouting for its 14-17 year old young men, for a simplified program that would help balance the spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual goals of young men. That change had a drastic impact of LDS youth in scouting, dropping the number from about 470,000 to an estimated 280,000 at the beginning of 2018.
In their own official statement, LDS Church leaders said, “The children and youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide are precious. They represent the future, and ministering to their needs is a significant focus for the Church.”
“For years, Church leaders have been preparing a new initiative to teach and provide leadership and development opportunities to all children and youth, to support families and to strengthen youth everywhere as they develop faith in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This new approach is intended to help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God. The initiative is designed to allow local leaders, families and even the young people themselves to customize their efforts, while providing service opportunities and activities, fostering healthy relationships and supporting communities. Details will be shared at childrenandyouth.lds.org as the implementation date approaches.”
Not only will the young men’s organization of the LDS Church be changed by the announcement, but the children’s program and Young Women’s program will also be adapted to meet the new direction. For those seeking more information on the direction and changes, The LDS Church has released a FAQ and will continue to update their website, childrenandyouth.lds.org, as more information comes forth regarding further changes to its child and youth programs.
The changes with have an impact on the 30,500 congregations, also called Wards, around the globe. Millions of young men and women will see changes to their Sunday meetings and weekly activity nights.
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