“Fostering Faith in God,” Ensign, July 2003, 45–47
The Primary is launching a new Faith in God Award program to assist parents and leaders in helping children learn to apply the principles of the gospel as they participate in enjoyable, engaging activities. In an interview, the Primary general presidency, Coleen K. Menlove, Sydney S. Reynolds, and Gayle M. Clegg, explained the new Faith in God guidebooks.
Question: What is the purpose of the Faith in God guidebooks?
Sister Menlove: The purpose of Primary is to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them learn to live it—with joy! The purpose of the guidebooks is to help bring this about by helping children learn to live gospel principles and develop testimonies of faith. As children participate in the Faith in God activities, they will find joy in living the gospel of Jesus Christ each day. They will come to understand that many of the decisions they make today will help them better prepare for their future roles.
Question: How does the Faith in God Award program work?
Sister Reynolds: Children ages 8 through 11 participate in engaging, age-appropriate activities that help them develop gospel habits such as praying, reading the scriptures, and living “My Gospel Standards,” with which they are already familiar. The Faith in God guidebooks will be used in their homes, at Primary, and during activity days. Our hope is that as they work on the activities in the guidebooks, they will feel the blessings of belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and become closer to their Heavenly Father and their families.
Question: Tell us about the Faith in God guidebooks.
Sister Clegg: There are two guidebooks, one for boys and one for girls. They are beautifully illustrated with original artwork and are just the right size to fit inside their scriptures. We hope the illustrations will remind the children of the Savior’s love for them. On the inside front cover is a place for each child to add his or her own picture above this wonderful statement: “I am a child of God. I know Heavenly Father loves me, and I love Him. I can pray to Heavenly Father anytime, anywhere. I am trying to remember and follow Jesus Christ.” As they tuck these words deep in their hearts, our hope is that they will feel happiness and peace in knowing who they are.
The guidebooks include the Articles of Faith, “My Gospel Standards,” and a letter of love and counsel from the First Presidency to help children develop faith. Also included is helpful information for parents and leaders, along with a page for the children to track their progress. On the inside back cover is the Faith in God Award.
Question: How does a child earn the Faith in God Award?
Sister Menlove: There are certain basic requirements that each child will need to fulfill, such as praying, studying the scriptures, keeping the commandments, honoring parents, and paying tithing. In this way, children will have opportunities to experience the joy of living the commandments at an early age.
In addition to these basic requirements, children will work on activities in three categories: learning and living the gospel, serving others, and developing talents. They might choose an activity that will help them know more about their ancestors as they prepare a pedigree chart or write a history about one of their grandparents. They could go to a museum or a play, or they might find it enjoyable to plan a fitness program or learn a new game or sport. A child may also plan an activity that meets his or her own goals or needs.
In their 11th year, children will do additional activities that prepare boys to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and girls to enter Young Women. Boys will meet with the deacons quorum adviser or presidency to learn what it means to be part of a deacons quorum and what responsibilities that entails. The girls will meet with a member of the Young Women presidency or Beehive class presidency to learn about the purpose and importance of the Young Women program.
Question: Will the program work in wards or branches with small Primary groups or where children live far from other members?
Sister Reynolds: The Faith in God guidebooks are for everyone! Activities can be done individually, with help from family members, or with the child’s activity days group. Activity days, which replace achievement days, offer a wonderful opportunity to gather with friends and learn the gospel in enjoyable, engaging ways. Activity days also provide opportunities for children to be missionaries by inviting friends who are not members of the Church.
If children live far from the ward or branch meetinghouse, the activities can be done at home. Activities in the Faith in God guidebooks can be adapted to meet each child’s circumstances and needs.
Question: So the program is flexible enough to allow children in any situation to participate?
Sister Clegg: Yes! Every child can enjoy the blessings of these activities. On the last page of the book is a Faith in God Achievement Record tracking sheet, which allows the children to record their activities as they complete them. When they complete two activities in each of the three sections for each year they participate in activity days, they will show the tracking page in the guidebook to the Primary president and bishop or branch president for their signatures.
Many children are already working on the Gospel in Action Award. They will find that the requirements they have completed for Gospel in Action easily transfer into the Faith in God guidebooks. Boys who are participating in the Boy Scouts of America and have been working on their Cub Scout Faith in God Award will still be able to earn the Boy Scouts of America Religious Square Knot patch by completing the activities marked with the square knot in the Faith in God for Boys guidebook.
Question: What should be the result in the lives of children who participate in the activities outlined in the Faith in God guidebooks?
Sister Menlove: We pray that the children will each learn who they are and what they might become as they participate in these activities. Awards and patches are nice, but these guidebooks are intended to help children better understand and keep the covenants they made as they were baptized. Participating in activities focused on principles of the gospel will help prepare them to be worthy to enter the temple someday, to become more like the Savior, and to achieve their great potential as children of God.
When President Hinckley spoke to the Primary children in the sharing time video, he encouraged them to hold fast to the gospel and to their membership in the Church. Earning the Faith in God Award will help them follow the prophet and do just as he asked.