“Leadership throughout Church Gathers for Priesthood MIA Conference: Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood MIAs,” Ensign, Sept. 1973, 80–81
Nearly 13,000 leaders and officers of the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood MIAs from throughout the Church met in Salt Lake City this summer for a historic conference to learn their new assignments and responsibilities.
The conference followed the announcement made by the First Presidency last November concerning changes in the traditional MIA organizational structure, with the newly aligned MIAs now merged into the existing priesthood leadership structure.
Conference activities included two general sessions in the Tabernacle conducted by the First Presidency and a day of seminars and departmental sessions where stake officers learned their new duties. Also featured at the conference were numerous ideas for ward and stake programs, demonstrations of crafts, hobbies, and service projects, get acquainted receptions and parties, and such cultural arts as a full-length musical presented by a ward, readers theater, roadshows in the round, young artists music festivals, and a dance festival.
Attendance at the general sessions and the individual workshops was overwhelming to leaders in charge. “We anticipated perhaps 2,000 persons at our workshops,” says Jeffrey R. Holland, manager of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA, “but more than 4,000 showed up.
“I think people are excited by the fact that the members of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA are, in the words of one participant in the Special Interest group, going to have ‘the only show in town.’ They are going to be involved in their own activities and projects far more than they have been in the past. Our emphasis on service was well received, and, of course, the service we would really like to see is the more personal, one-to-one project.
“There was a strong spiritual overtone to the whole conference. I think people are now aware that the realignment of the organizations has been the result of revelation and prayer, and the presence of the First Presidency and other General Authorities gave great strength to this feeling. People went home excited by the concept of priesthood leadership in the new program.”
Brother Holland emphasized that June Conference was just the kickoff for the new program. “We will be following up with area conferences to assist in spreading information concerning our programs.”
One such conference is scheduled for Logan, Utah, in September, where some 800 Melchizedek Priesthood MIA leaders from Salt Lake City to Rexburg, Idaho, will meet in workshops and planning sessions.
Theory alone will not be the emphasis of the three-day conference; the leaders will involve themselves in community service projects such as helping to remodel a school for handicapped children in Benson, Utah. Workshop sessions will involve discussion on how to reach the one, the individual who needs the spiritual strength that comes from participation and service.
Similar conferences have already been held or are scheduled for Korea, England, Mexico, Japan, and other areas of the United States and Canada.
Area conferences are also to be a post-June Conference feature of the Aaronic Priesthood MIA.
“Stake leaders will now be conducting leadership sessions for wards in their own stakes,” explains Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, “and there will be area conferences to assist the stake leaders in their new roles.”
What are the changes in responsibility in the Aaronic Priesthood MIA?
“I suppose the most important emphasis is in the area of youth involvement. We want the youth to be an integral part of planning when it comes to their own activities and their own programs. We see this as a great challenge, not only for the youth but also for the adult leaders, who now have to provide a sort of shadow leadership.
“We see heavier involvement in all youth activities by bishoprics and branch presidencies. After all, they are members of the youth committee. We need the full priesthood support of the bishop as chairman of the Explorer post committee. One of his counselors is chairman of the Venturer post committee, and the other is chairman of the Scout troop committee. In these capacities, they are assisted by the Aaronic Priesthood MIA president who is the assistant chairman of each of the three committees. He must truly be the young man’s specialist in the ward; it is one of the most exciting positions to which a man can be called.
“In other changes explained at June conference, the priests quorum adviser now serves as the Explorer Post leader, the teachers quorum adviser as the Venturer post leader, and the deacons quorum adviser as the Scoutmaster. You see, there is a very definite correlation between priesthood and youth activity.
“One of the outstanding features for the young sisters is the streamlining of the personal achievement program. The bishop now has less involvement in details but more involvement when it comes to inspiring and motivating the girls. There is more privacy in the compiling of a personal journal; the young ladies won’t have to expose the contents of their personal journals to everyone down the line; it will be more like keeping a personal diary with their own goals, aspirations, and achievements.
“All these new programs are being outlined at various leadership meetings, and they will appear soon in manual form so that youth supervisors can teach themselves. June Conference was just the beginning.”
During the conference sessions and festivities, several members were honored for the contributions to the youth program of the Church. G. Carlos Smith and Jay Eldredge, general presidents of the YMMIA, and Florence S. Jacobsen, former general president of the YWMIA, were honored at the Master M-Man and Golden Gleaner reunion, while Bishop Lawrence H. Gold of the Cannon Sixth Ward in Salt Lake City received the Homer C. “Pug” Warner award for outstanding service to athletics.