“20. Activities,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“20. Activities,” General Handbook.
Church activities bring Church members and others together as “fellowcitizens with the saints” (Ephesians 2:19). Purposes for activities may include the following:
Build faith in Jesus Christ.
Provide fun and foster unity.
Provide opportunities for personal growth.
Strengthen individuals and families.
Help members participate in God’s work of salvation and exaltation (see 1.2).
Some examples of Church activities include:
Service that blesses others and builds community relationships.
Missionary work, temple work, and family history work.
Opportunities to develop self-reliance and leadership skills.
Education and vocational training.
Opportunities to develop talents and appreciation for cultural arts.
Sports and fitness.
Celebrations of special occasions, such as holidays or Church or local historical events.
As used in this handbook, the term Church activity refers to an activity sponsored by a Church unit, quorum, or organization.
Before planning an activity, leaders consider the spiritual and temporal needs of members. Leaders seek the guidance of the Spirit when deciding what kind of activity would help meet those needs.
For information about planning stake and multistake activities, see 20.3.
Ward activities can be planned in any of the following ways, based on local needs:
The ward council could oversee the planning.
The ward council could assign specific organizations to help plan one or more activities.
When needed and where there are enough members, the bishopric may organize a ward activities committee. Youth may be called as committee members. This committee works under the direction of the ward council. The ward council assigns one of its members to be in regular contact with the activities committee.
Those who plan activities should reach out to all, especially new members, less-active members, youth, single adults, those with disabilities, and people of other faiths. Those who plan should be sensitive to participants’ physical limitations. They should also be sensitive to cultural and language differences.
Those who plan activities look for ways for participants to be involved. For example, they could invite members and others to use their skills and talents in the activity.
While gathering in activities can be a blessing, members should not be made to feel obligated to attend every activity. Activities should not put undue burdens on leaders and members.
Church activities should be uplifting and emphasize what is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13). Activities may not include anything that is contrary to Church teachings. Activities may not include media or other entertainment that makes anything inappropriate seem acceptable.
Substances that are contrary to the Word of Wisdom are not permitted at Church activities or on Church premises. Persons who are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs may not participate in Church activities. If such a situation occurs, leaders respond compassionately.
Leaders plan a balance of activities, including service, cultural arts, and physical activities (see 20.1). Members should have opportunities to participate in activities that appeal to their interests. They should also support others in their interests.
The following sections provide examples of good activities.
Service activities provide opportunities to show love for others, to feel the joy of helping them, and to improve communities.
These activities can include visiting people who are sick or lonely, beautifying Church buildings and grounds, and participating in community projects. Where it is available, JustServe.org suggests community service opportunities.
Service activities should follow safety guidelines (see 22.214.171.124).
Cultural arts activities provide opportunities for members to develop and share their talents. These activities also nurture creativity, confidence, and cooperation. They could include arts and crafts displays, talent shows, or dance, music, and drama. They could also include celebrations of culture, holidays, or local or general Church history.
As individuals, families, and Church groups, members are encouraged to participate in activities that contribute to their health and fitness. Some Church recreational activities can be planned so family members can participate together.
For information about sports activities, see 20.5.9.
Church activities should be planned as far in advance as feasible. Leaders keep parents informed of activities for children and youth.
Activities should be held at a reasonable hour. They should end early enough that participants can travel home safely.
If an activity will be held at a meetinghouse or another Church facility, the facility should be reserved in advance to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Monday nights are reserved for family activities (see 20.5.3).
Most activities should be simple and have little or no cost. Any expenses must be approved in advance by the bishopric or stake presidency.
Members should not usually pay to participate in activities. For policies and guidelines on funding activities, see 20.6.
Most Church activities are held at the ward level. Leaders are also encouraged to hold periodic stake and multistake activities when such activities will help accomplish the purposes in 20.1.
Stake and multistake activities are particularly beneficial for youth, single members, and women, especially in areas with few members. Well-planned stake and multistake activities can give members a wider circle of friendships. Leaders identify the needs of those they serve and consider whether such activities would help meet those needs. These leaders then recommend activities to the stake presidency.
Stake Young Men, Young Women, Relief Society, and Primary presidencies begin the process of planning stake activities for their organizations.
The stake young single adult committee begins the process of planning stake activities for young single adults.
If a stake single adult committee is organized, committee members begin the process of planning activities for single adults.
If a stake activities committee is organized, they can plan stake activities and serve as a resource to stake organizations in planning their activities as outlined in 126.96.36.199.
All stake activities require the approval of the stake presidency. They are coordinated in stake council meetings.
Stake leaders notify ward leaders of stake activities well in advance. They also ensure that stake activities supplement ward activities rather than compete with them.
The stake presidency may organize a stake activities committee to help the stake council plan stake activities. The stake activities committee consists of a chair (a high councilor) and committee members (see 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206). The stake presidency could also invite other members to help plan one or more activities.
If the stake presidency organizes a stake activities committee, they assign a high councilor to be the committee chair. His responsibilities can include:
Maintaining a calendar of stake activities.
Supervising committee members in planning stake activities.
Recommending a detailed stake activities budget to the stake presidency before the beginning of each year. This budget does not include activities that are for individual stake organizations.
Serving as a resource to stake organization leaders when they plan activities.
A member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor may call members to serve on the stake activities committee. They serve under the direction of the committee chair. Committee members help plan and organize activities in the stake.
In areas with few youth, leaders should hold multistake youth activities periodically so youth can benefit from socializing in larger groups. Area activities for youth may also be held occasionally.
Frequent multistake activities should be held for young single adults where gathering does not require too much time or expense. Area activities for young single adults may also be held occasionally.
For information about multistake activities for single members, see 220.127.116.11.
Multistake activities should be simple and varied.
If stake presidents feel that a multistake activity would benefit the members of their stakes, they may request permission from the Area Presidency. Before proposing a multistake activity, stake presidents determine whether it is the best way to meet the needs they have identified. The stake presidents consider the cost, time, and travel the activity would require. They also consider safety (see 20.7.6).
Meetings to coordinate the planning of multistake activities may be held before or after area council and coordinating council meetings (see 5.2.3 and 5.2.4). As needed, additional leaders—including stake Relief Society, Young Men, and Young Women presidents—could be invited to attend.
The Area Presidency may assign stake presidents or Area Seventies to lead committees that plan and carry out multistake or area activities. Stake presidencies may call members of their stakes to serve on these committees.
Funding for most multistake activities comes from the budget funds of the participating stakes. Funding for area activities may come from area or Church headquarters budgets when approved.
Stake, multistake, and area activities should comply with Church travel policies (see 20.7.7). Travel for FSY conferences should comply with Church travel policies unless an FSY administrator gives local leaders other instructions.
Beginning in January of the year they turn 14, young men and young women are invited to participate together in a youth conference. Youth conferences are usually held once each year on a ward or stake level. They may also be held on a multistake or area level. In a year that youth are assigned to attend an FSY conference, stakes and wards should not hold youth conferences.
The purposes of youth conferences are to help youth:
Build faith in Jesus Christ.
Make new friends.
Have fun with youth who share similar beliefs and standards.
Youth can also learn leadership skills as they help plan youth conferences.
Ward youth conferences are planned and carried out by the ward youth council, under the direction of the bishopric (see 29.2.6). The bishopric obtains the stake presidency’s approval of plans for a ward youth conference.
Stake youth conferences are planned and carried out by the stake youth leadership committee (see 29.3.10). Youth should be invited to assist the committee as much as possible.
Youth conferences are funded from the stake or ward budget. Members should not be asked to pay for youth conferences (see 20.6).
As leaders and youth plan a youth conference, they should observe the policies in this chapter and the following guidelines:
Select a gospel theme, such as a scripture, that will inspire the youth and help them understand the expectations of the conference. The Church’s annual youth theme could be used as the conference theme. The bishopric or stake presidency should approve the theme.
Plan activities that are consistent with the theme.
Obtain the approval of the bishopric or stake presidency for all speakers and activities. Speakers should be Church members who teach by the Spirit. See 38.8.18 for other guidelines concerning speakers.
If an event is planned for Sunday, it should be appropriate for the Sabbath day. Testimony meetings, discussions with the bishopric, or similar meetings are permitted. However, sacrament meetings are not to be held—and the sacrament is not to be administered—outside of meetinghouses in the ward or stake. Any exceptions must be for a Church-sponsored activity and must be approved by the Area Presidency. Groups should not travel to or from youth conference on a Sunday.
Ensure adequate adult supervision at all times (see 20.7.1).
Follow all safety guidelines in 20.7.6.
Adult leaders are invited to attend as much of the conference as possible. These include members of the bishopric or stake presidency, ward or stake Young Women presidency, and stake Young Men presidency. Ward Young Women and Young Men advisers may also be invited to attend.
Leaders ensure that the following policies and guidelines are observed in selecting and planning Church activities.
In all dances, the dress, grooming, lighting, dancing styles, lyrics, and music should contribute to an atmosphere where the Spirit of the Lord can be present (see the For the Strength of Youth booklet).
Leaders use the Performance Contract form when hiring a band, orchestra, or disc jockey. This contract helps ensure that conduct and music are appropriate for Church dances. Leaders make clear agreements in writing that commit those who provide music to follow Church standards at Church activities.
Members are encouraged to hold family activities on Monday or at other times. No Church activities, meetings, or baptismal services should be held after 6:00 p.m. on Mondays.
Leaders ensure that Church buildings and other facilities are closed on Monday nights. Receptions and similar activities may not be held in Church facilities on Monday nights.
As an exception, young single adult wards and single adult wards may hold activities on Monday nights, including in Church buildings. An exception may also be made when New Year’s Eve is on a Monday (see 20.5.4).
If a ward or stake plans a New Year’s Eve activity, and if New Year’s Eve falls on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, leaders should observe the following guidelines.
Saturday. The stake president may schedule an alternate Sunday for observing fast day. The activity may extend past midnight. However, it should end soon afterward so participants can attend Sunday meetings.
Sunday. Church activities may be planned for Saturday, December 30. The guidelines in the previous paragraph apply. Families may be encouraged to celebrate New Year’s Eve in their homes. Activities should be appropriate for the Sabbath day.
Monday. The stake president or bishop may authorize the use of Church buildings on Monday evening.
Permission from parents or guardians is required for all Church overnight activities involving youth (see 20.7.4).
Church overnight activities for combined groups of young men and young women must be approved by the bishop and stake president. The same is true for activities for male and female single members. Such activities should be rare. Examples include youth conferences, FSY conferences, or temple visits that require traveling long distances.
Male and female participants and leaders should have separate sleeping accommodations. However, a married couple may share the same room or tent. Each youth should have his or her own bed or sleeping bag.
In most cases, a youth may not stay in the same tent or room as an adult unless the adult is his or her parent or guardian. An exception may be made if there are at least two adults in the tent or room who are the same sex as the youth.
If adult leaders and youth share other overnight facilities, such as a cabin, there must be at least two adults in each facility, and they must be the same sex as the youth.
All Church overnight activities must include at least two adult leaders.
A sufficient number of adult priesthood holders must be present at all times during overnight activities to provide support and protection. For Young Women activities, priesthood holders must stay in facilities separate from the young women.
Leaders fill out an Event and Activity Plan form for all overnight activities.
Overnight activities at Church meetinghouses or meetinghouse grounds are not approved.
For more information, see “FAQs—What Should I Do?” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
God the Father and the Holy Ghost are not to be portrayed in meetings, dramas, or musicals.
If the Savior is portrayed, it must be with reverence and dignity. Only men of wholesome personal character should be considered for the part. The person who portrays the Savior should not sing or dance. When speaking, he should use only direct quotations of scriptures spoken by the Savior. At the end of the performance, he should change immediately into regular clothes.
The Savior should not be portrayed by children in dramatization except in a Nativity scene.
All activities should be opened and, when appropriate, closed with prayer. A hymn, a spiritual thought, or remarks by a leader or participant may be included.
No Church camps, sports events, or recreational events are to be scheduled on Sunday. Nor should youth groups and others travel to or from camps or youth conferences on Sunday.
As an exception, when safety or travel costs are serious concerns, some youth activities may be scheduled immediately after Sunday worship meetings. These activities should be separate from the Sunday meeting schedule. They should be in keeping with the spirit of the Sabbath. Approval from the bishop and stake president is required.
Church sports activities provide opportunities for physical activity and fellowship. They emphasize participation, sportsmanship, and skill development. When the activity involves competition, every effort should be made to avoid contention. All team members should have regular opportunities to play, regardless of skill level.
The stake presidency oversees sports activities sponsored within their stake. They also establish guidelines that (1) specify the ages at which players may participate in Church sports and (2) determine player eligibility. Such decisions should be made before the start of a season.
If multistake sports activities are held, the Area Presidency or assigned Area Seventies oversee them. These activities are administered by sports specialists who are called by agent stake presidents designated by the Area Presidency. Area sports tournaments are not approved.
Participants in Church sports activities do not need to be Church members. However, they should live in the unit’s boundaries and agree to follow Church standards and policies during activities.
If team uniforms are used, they should be simple, inexpensive, and appropriate for the activity. Colored T-shirts or pullover shirts are usually sufficient. Uniforms should be paid for from the stake or ward budget.
The presentation of team or individual awards or trophies is discouraged.
Temple visits are organized on the ward or stake level within the assigned temple district.
Organized ward or stake visits to temples outside the assigned temple district are not encouraged. Such visits require the approval of the stake presidency. Overnight temple visits also require the approval of the stake presidency.
Church units may not sponsor activities that are not in harmony with the guidelines in this chapter. These include:
Activities that have a high risk of injury or illness (see 20.7.6).
Activities that require unusual expense or travel (see 20.7.7).
Exercise programs that have music, lyrics, dress, or other elements that are not in harmony with Church standards.
If a bishop has a question about whether an activity is appropriate, he asks the stake president. Stake presidents may address questions to the Area Presidency.
Leaders ensure that the following policies and guidelines are observed in funding all Church activities.
Ward or stake budget funds should be used to pay for all activities—with the possible exceptions listed in 20.6.2.
Members should not provide materials, supplies, rental or admission fees, or long-distance transportation at their own expense. Members may provide food if doing so is not a burden.
If the ward or stake budget does not have enough funds for the activities listed below, leaders may ask participants to pay for part or all of them:
One annual extended Aaronic Priesthood camp or similar activity
One annual extended Young Women camp or similar activity
The expenses or travel for an annual camp should not be excessive. Lack of personal funds should not keep a member from participating.
If funds from ward and stake budgets and from participants are not sufficient for camps, the bishop may authorize one ward fundraising event annually. This event must comply with the guidelines in 20.6.5.
For information about funding large multistake or area events for young single adults, see 18.104.22.168.
Youth may be asked to contribute a fee to attend For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences. If the cost would keep a youth from participating, the bishop may use ward budget funds to pay all or part of this fee. See FSY.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
If possible, equipment and supplies the ward needs for annual youth camps are purchased with ward budget funds. If these funds are not sufficient, the bishop may authorize one ward fundraising event annually. This activity must comply with the guidelines in 20.6.5.
Equipment and supplies that are purchased with ward budget funds or money raised through a fundraising event are for Church use only. They are not for personal use.
Expenses for stake and ward activities are usually paid with budget funds. However, a stake president or bishop may authorize one fundraising event each year for the following purposes only:
To help buy equipment that the unit needs for annual camps as outlined in 20.6.4.
If a fundraiser is held, it should provide a meaningful value or service.
Leaders ensure that the funds raised are distributed equitably. Budget for Aaronic Priesthood quorums is based on the number of young men in the ward. Budget for the young women is based on the number of young women in the ward.
Contributions to fundraising events are voluntary. Leaders ensure that members do not feel obligated to contribute.
Units that sponsor fundraisers should not advertise or solicit beyond their boundaries. Nor should they sell products or services door to door.
Examples of fundraising activities that are not approved include:
Activities that would be taxable.
Activities completed with paid labor, either by employees or by contract.
Entertainment for which the stake or ward pays performers for their services.
The sale of goods or services from a commercial business.
Games of chance, such as raffles, lotteries, and bingo.
Activities that are unsafe.
Any exceptions to these instructions must be approved by the Area Presidency.
Leaders ensure that the following safety policies and guidelines are observed in all Church activities.
At least two adults must be present at all Church activities attended by children and youth. Additional adults may be needed depending on the size of the group, the skills required for the activity, or other factors. Parents are encouraged to help.
All who work with children and youth must complete the children and youth protection training. See ProtectingChildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
With their parents’ approval, youth may attend overnight camps beginning in January of the year they turn 12. They may attend dances, youth conferences, and FSY conferences beginning in January of the year they turn 14.
In many parts of the world, health and accident insurance coverage is available through employers or government programs. Members who have this coverage should access all available benefits if they incur an injury during a Church activity before seeking help from Church activity insurance (see 22.214.171.124).
The Church counsels members and leaders who oversee Church activities to protect themselves, where possible, by carrying reasonable amounts of liability insurance. Such insurance may be available through homeowners insurance or other policies. For more information, see “FAQs—What Should I Do?” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
In the United States and Canada, the Church Activity Medical Assistance (CAMA) program provides secondary medical and dental assistance for injuries sustained while participating in a Church activity. It also provides funeral assistance if necessary. This program is designed to supplement, not replace, a person’s own health and accident insurance. For more information, see “FAQs—What Should I Do?” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
If an incident occurs during a Church-sponsored event, leaders determine if CAMA might be needed. Any leader may report an incident in the Global Incident Reporting system at incidents.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. If the leader indicates that treatment beyond first aid is expected, the bishop will be notified and will receive enrollment information. The bishop considers a person’s ability to pay medical expenses by other means, such as personal insurance coverage or other resources. He may authorize the use of CAMA funds if he feels it is appropriate.
For more information, see the Church Activity Medical Assistance Handbook. To obtain this handbook, contact:
Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators
P.O. Box 45530
Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0530
Telephone: 1-801-578-5650 or 1-800-777-1647
The Church is often asked to provide evidence of insurance for activities. These requests come because of rental agreements, contracts, or permits associated with activities.
In the United States and Canada, leaders may obtain a certificate showing evidence of insurance at InsuranceCertificates.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Outside the United States and Canada leaders should contact the area office. Requests should include:
The name and address of the organization requiring evidence of insurance.
A description and location of the facility, if renting a facility.
The liability limits required.
Other relevant information about the activity.
Leaders should plan well in advance to allow time to prepare the certificates.
Children and youth may not participate in a Church activity without the permission of their parents or guardians. For Church activities that include an overnight stay, lengthy travel, or higher than ordinary risks, written consent is necessary. Some activities may require additional planning to reduce risks. Safety should always be an important consideration. See 126.96.36.199.
Parents and guardians give this consent by signing the Permission and Medical Release form. The person who leads the activity should have a signed form for each participant.
Any abuse that occurs during a Church activity should be reported to civil authorities. The bishop should be contacted immediately. Instructions for members are in 188.8.131.52. Instructions for bishops are in 184.108.40.206.
Leaders and participants carefully assess activities to ensure minimal risk of injury or illness. Activities should also involve minimal risk of damage to property. During activities, leaders make every effort to ensure safety. By planning effectively and following safety precautions, leaders can minimize the risk of accidents.
Activities should include appropriate training and supervision. They should also be appropriate for the participants’ age, abilities, and maturity.
Leaders instruct all participants in safety practices for the activity. When activities require specific physical skills or experience, it may be necessary to obtain specialized training or to use professional guides.
Leaders should be prepared for emergencies. They should also know in advance how to contact local law enforcement and emergency services. For more information, see “FAQs—What Should I Do?” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
If an accident or injury occurs on Church property or during a Church activity, leaders observe the following guidelines, as applicable:
Render first aid. If a person needs additional medical care, contact emergency medical services. Also contact the parent, guardian, or other next of kin and the bishop or stake president.
If someone goes missing or dies, immediately notify local law enforcement. Cooperate fully with them.
Provide emotional support.
Do not encourage or discourage legal action. Do not make commitments on behalf of the Church.
Gather and keep names of witnesses, their contact information, accounts of what happened, and photographs.
Report the accident (see 220.127.116.11).
The following situations should be reported online at incidents.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The bishop, stake president, or member he designates who knows about the incident makes the report promptly.
An accident or injury occurs on Church property or during a Church activity.
A person who was participating in a Church activity is missing.
Private, public, or Church property is damaged during a Church activity.
Legal action is threatened or anticipated.
If an event results in a serious injury, fatality, or missing person, the stake president, bishop, or member he designates immediately takes one of the following actions:
In the United States or Canada, first call the Risk Management Division at Church headquarters (1-801-240-4049 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-4049; after business hours or on weekends, call 1-801-240-1000 or 1-800-453-3860, and the operator will contact someone immediately). Then contact the Area Presidency.
Outside the United States and Canada, notify the area office.
The stake president or bishop also reports injuries and damage involving Church facilities or property to the Church facilities manager.
For more information, see “FAQs—What Should I Do?” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
If an injury occurs during a Church event, leaders determine if the Church Activity Medical Assistance program applies (see 18.104.22.168).
In some cases, the stake president or bishop may have questions about safety issues or claims against the Church. The stake president (or a bishop under his direction) refers such questions to the Risk Management Division or to the area office.
Travel for Church activities should be approved by the bishop or stake president. This travel should not place undue burdens on members. Long-distance travel for activities is discouraged.
In some exceptional situations, a stake president or bishop may feel that long-distance travel for an activity is justified. He prayerfully considers the potential spiritual benefits of the activity, the cost, and the effect on families. If he approves such travel, members should not provide it at their own expense.
Travel practices and the application of guidelines in this section should be consistent among units in the same area or coordinating council. Stake presidents may discuss and agree on travel practices during coordinating council meetings.
Leaders fill out an Event and Activity Plan form for activities that involve long-distance travel.
When a Church activity for youth involves long-distance travel or staying overnight, parents or guardians must give written permission for their children to participate (see 20.7.4). Responsible adult supervision must be provided (see 20.7.1).
When feasible, Church groups should use commercial transportation for long-distance travel. It should be licensed and protected by liability insurance.
When Church groups travel in private passenger vehicles, each vehicle must be in safe operating condition. Each person should use a seat belt. Each driver should be a licensed, responsible adult. All vehicles and drivers should be covered with reasonable amounts of automobile liability insurance. Plans should be made to ensure that drivers remain aware and alert. Whenever possible, an adult should not be alone with a youth in a vehicle unless the youth is his or her child.
Church organizations may not own or acquire automobiles or buses for group travel.
A man and a woman should not travel alone together for Church activities, meetings, or assignments unless they are married to each other or are both single.
For more information, see “FAQs—What Should I Do?” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Leaders ensure that the following policies and guidelines are observed when administering all Church activities.
When Church facilities are inadequate for a stake or multistake activity, facilities may be rented with approval from the stake president. Such requests are handled by the Church facilities manager.
Local units may be asked to show evidence of liability insurance when renting or using facilities that are not owned by the Church. For information about how to obtain a certificate of insurance, see 22.214.171.124.
Leaders ensure that activities do not jeopardize the Church’s tax-exempt status. For guidelines, see 34.8.1.