“New Basic Unit Program Explained,” Ensign, Jan. 1981, 77–78
In President Kimball’s address at the priesthood session in October general conference (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 46), he described a simplified procedure called the “basic unit program” that uses simpler manuals, guidebooks, reports, and buildings.
In instructions sent to Regional Representatives, stake presidents, and mission presidents in October 1980 following general conference, this program was explained in greater detail. It can operate in any place where language, culture, or distance make it difficult for individual families or groups to participate fully in the Church organization. The program enables leaders to help each family or basic unit develop its strength fully before moving on to the next step instead of trying to establish full programs immediately.
The full text of the First Presidency’s letter, stressing the flexibility and usefulness of this program, is dated 10 October 1980, for all Regional Representatives and stake and mission presidents. It states:
“In the recent General Conference Priesthood Session and also during the Regional Representatives meeting, President Spencer W. Kimball made pointed reference to the Basic Unit Program. He explained that this program is now available in most languages. It is ideally suited for use where numbers are not sufficient for the full Church program and particularly where there may be a language difference.
“We find that many stake and mission presidents are not fully aware how this program may be of service to them. The program was designed to accommodate members who are separated from the larger units of the Church by language, culture, or by distance. It consists of organizational handbooks for use by the family, by very small groups, or by an emerging branch organization. There are also special simplified reports and instructional manuals published for men, women, and children where numbers do not justify several classes.
“Small buildings have likewise been designed to accommodate these smaller branches. These buildings can be expanded as numbers increase and as members are able to adopt more of the Church program.
“Where this program has been used we have met with very encouraging success, particularly among the minority groups. Where before many were not enjoying full activity in the Church, we now have many smaller branches led by local leaders with increased participation.
“We continue to have concern about the weight of the full Church program. While it may serve well the larger wards with commodious buildings and adequate numbers, it becomes burdensome on wards and branches that have fewer members and may have some limitations in the buildings they are able to provide.
“We ask that you become acquainted with this program. There may be some parts of it that you may wish to introduce into units that are already established, with a desire to simplify the program and reduce travel expense.
“We thank you for your dedicated service and urge you to give careful attention to those who may not be fully served because of language, cultural, or distance problems. They have a tendency to withdraw from activity in the Church because of the complicated nature of our programs. May we invite you to study the material we are enclosing which includes sample copies of the guidebooks and such other material as may be helpful to you in becoming acquainted with this important program.
“Executive Administrators are authorized to approve new branches in stakes and missions. In order that a unit number may be assigned for proper management of membership records, reports, and finances, an application form, a copy of which is enclosed, is required to obtain Basic Unit materials. Executive Administrators should be very careful to ensure that all new branches apply for a unit number.
“May the Lord bless you in your service and give you inspiration as you look to the welfare of our minority brothers and sisters.”