Policies and Announcements
December 1980

“Policies and Announcements,” Ensign, Dec. 1980, 67–68

Policies and Announcements

Three-phase Visiting Teaching Plan

In a letter dated 5 September 1980 and signed by Presidents Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney, the following new guidelines for implementing “Relief Society visiting teaching in the Church” were given, including instruction for “areas where membership is small and leadership is limited.”

“Visiting teaching should be done at a time and in a way that best suits a sister’s needs and her home situation. Sunday is usually not an appropriate day for these visits; however, single sisters serving as visiting teachers might choose this day for visits to other single sisters who may not be available during the week. Because of possible dangers, women should not go out after dark to do visiting teaching.

“Phase I: When there are very few women, the Relief Society president will assign and direct compassionate service. Phase II should be adopted as soon as practical.

Phase II: (a) When membership is sufficiently large, visiting teaching will be initiated. Each Relief Society executive officer will be assigned a companion and one or more sisters to visit. Along with taking a message, they will assess and report needs. They will also render compassionate service. (b) Additional sisters will be called to serve as continuing growth in membership occurs. (c) Where geographical distances or personal situations make it either impractical or impossible to make a personal visit, the Relief Society president will authorize an “Approved Communication Contact.” (d) Adopt Phase III as soon as practical.

“Phase III: The full visiting teaching program as currently outlined in the Relief Society Handbook will be implemented to provide a continuing watchcare and a bond of sisterhood for every Relief Society woman. (a) Every sister will be visited or contacted by two assigned visiting teachers. (b) A brief monthly preparation meeting will be held in which the Relief Society president instructs the visiting teachers and communications skills will be taught. (c) A report of visits will be made. Any compassionate service or welfare needs observed during the call to the home will be reported confidentially to the president. (d) Periodically the president meets personally with each visiting teacher.”

Graduation of Twelve-year-olds from Primary

In a letter dated 22 September 1980 and signed by Presidents Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney, the following instructions were given:

“The First Presidency and the Twelve have approved the policy that boys and girls will graduate from Primary at the time of their twelfth birthdays. The girls will enter the Young Women program upon graduation, and the boys will enter the Aaronic Priesthood. Both boys and girls will enter Sunday School Course 12 at the time of their graduation.

“Girls should be recognized individually in a ward sacrament meeting at the time of their graduation in a manner similar to that in which the boys are presently recognized as they move into the Aaronic Priesthood.

“Young Women leaders will need to give special attention to welcoming the girls into the Young Women program. The Personal Progress program as outlined in the Young Women Handbook should be explained to each girl and her parents at the time of her transition to the Young Women program.

“This policy should be explained to all parents and the leaders of boys and girls who will be affected by this change. More details will be included in a forthcoming issue of the Bulletin.

The following items appeared in the September Bulletin, sent to leaders of the Church:

A letter from the First Presidency of 8 October 1980 gives new instructions on missionary couples and lady missionaries:

Age and Term of Service for Missionary Couples and Lady Missionaries

“The following are changes in the policies concerning the age and term of service for missionary couples and single lady missionaries (see General Handbook of Instructions, no. 21, p. 69). The policies regarding single elders are not affected by these changes.”

Lady Missionaries

“Women who do not have dependent children at home and who are in good health may be recommended to serve a mission according to the following policies:

“1. Women between the ages of twenty-one and forty may serve full-time missions for a period of eighteen months.

“2. Women between the ages of forty and seventy (those for whom recommendations are received by the Missionary Department before their seventieth birthday) may serve full-time missions for a period of one year.

“3. Women who are over the age of seventy should not be recommended to serve full-time missions.”

Missionary Couples

“Couples who do not have dependent children at home and who are in good health may be recommended to serve full-time missions for a period of six, twelve, or eighteen months. Their preference should be noted on the recommendation form. For all three options, the Church will handle transportation expenses according to the normal policy for missionaries.

“Couples should not be recommended to serve full-time missions if either the husband or wife has reached his or her seventieth birthday.”

Alternatives to Full-time Missionary Service

“If couples and older single ladies have a desire to serve missions but are not eligible for full-time missionary service, according to these policies, they should be encouraged to serve stake missions, working in cooperation with full-time missionaries. By so doing, they can remain in their own homes, have access to their own physicians and family members, and still enjoy the experiences and blessings of missionary service.”

Missionaries Who Are Currently Serving

“Lady missionaries who are currently serving and who are over age seventy may choose to terminate their missions when they have served one year or more, or they may complete eighteen months of service.

“Couples who are currently serving may choose to terminate their missions at the end of six, twelve, or eighteen months of service.

“The mission president should take the following steps to implement these policies.

“1. Review the mission roster to determine if any missionary couples or lady missionaries will be eligible for a release according to the above policies.

“2. Inform these couples and lady missionaries of the policy and offer them the option of terminating their missions at the appropriate time.

“3. Confer with the home priesthood leaders concerning the decisions of these missionaries.

“4. Note on the missionary roster any changes in release dates and submit it to the Missionary Department.

“We appreciate your cooperation in this matter and pray for your success as you build the Lord’s kingdom.”