“8. Aaronic Priesthood,” Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2019)
“8. Aaronic Priesthood,” Handbook 2
The priesthood is the power and authority of God. It is conferred upon worthy male members of the Church. Those who hold priesthood keys direct the administration of the ordinances of the gospel, the preaching of the gospel, and the government of the kingdom of God on the earth.
The Aaronic Priesthood holds “the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:26–27; see also Doctrine and Covenants 13:1; 107:20). The Aaronic Priesthood also “has power in administering outward ordinances” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:14).
For more information about the purposes of the priesthood and priesthood keys, see chapter 2.
The offices in the Aaronic Priesthood are deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop. Each priesthood office has rights and responsibilities of service, including authority to administer priesthood ordinances. For information about ordination to the offices of deacon, teacher, and priest, see 20.7.
Worthy brethren may receive the Aaronic Priesthood and be ordained deacons beginning in January of the year they turn 12. A deacon has the following responsibilities:
He lives a righteous life and remains worthy to exercise the priesthood. He sets a good example for fellow quorum members and other Church members.
He passes the sacrament (see 20.4.3).
He is “appointed to watch over the church” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:111). He is also to “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:59). This responsibility includes fellowshipping quorum members and other young men, notifying members of Church meetings, speaking in meetings, sharing the gospel, and bearing testimony.
He assists the bishop in “administering … temporal things” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:68). This responsibility may include gathering fast offerings, caring for the poor and needy, caring for the meetinghouse and grounds, and serving as a messenger for the bishop in Church meetings.
He participates in quorum instruction by being an active student of the gospel.
He assists the bishopric in other ways consistent with the office of a deacon. He also assists teachers “in all [their] duties in the church … if occasion requires” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:57).
Worthy brethren may be ordained teachers beginning in January of the year they turn 14. A teacher has all the responsibilities of a deacon. He also has the following responsibilities:
He prepares the sacrament (see 20.4.2).
He is to “watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:53). One way he does this is by serving as a ministering brother. He is assigned as a companion to a Melchizedek Priesthood holder.
He is to “see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:54). This responsibility includes being a peacemaker and being an example of moral integrity and uprightness.
He is to “see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:55).
He assists the bishopric in other ways consistent with the office of a teacher.
Worthy brethren may be ordained priests beginning in January of the year they turn 16. A priest has all the responsibilities of a deacon and teacher. He also has the following responsibilities:
He is to “preach, teach, expound, exhort, … and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:46–47).
When authorized by the bishop, he performs baptisms, confers the Aaronic Priesthood, and ordains deacons, teachers, and priests (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:46, 48).
He assists the bishopric in other ways consistent with the office of a priest.
The bishop’s responsibilities regarding the Aaronic Priesthood are outlined in 8.3.1.
A priesthood quorum is an organized group of brethren. The primary purposes of quorums are to serve others, build unity and brotherhood, and instruct members in doctrines, principles, and duties.
The bishop organizes the deacons into a quorum of up to 12 members, the teachers into a quorum of up to 24 members, and the priests into a quorum of up to 48 members (see Doctrine and Covenants 107:85–87). If quorum membership increases beyond these numbers, the bishop may divide the quorum. Before doing so, he considers the eventual size of the quorum, available leadership, and the effect on quorum members.
In a ward or branch with few young men, Aaronic Priesthood quorums may meet together for instruction and activities.
Young men are in a time of preparation and personal spiritual growth. Accordingly, parents and the bishopric and other Aaronic Priesthood leaders help each young man to:
Become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings.
Serve faithfully in priesthood callings and fulfill the responsibilities of priesthood offices.
Give meaningful service.
Prepare and live worthily to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple ordinances.
Have a limited-use temple recommend and, where possible, to use it regularly.
Prepare to serve an honorable full-time mission.
Obtain as much education as possible.
Prepare to become a worthy husband and father.
Give proper respect to women, girls, and children.
Parents and leaders help young men accomplish these objectives in home evenings, gospel study at home, meetings, activities, and interviews and by encouraging them to participate in the Duty to God program (see 8.12).
Young men should not recite these objectives in their meetings or activities.
Parents have the first responsibility for the spiritual and physical welfare of their children (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–28). The bishopric and other Aaronic Priesthood leaders support but do not replace parents in this responsibility. They offer support in the following ways:
They assist parents in helping their sons prepare for priesthood ordinations, the temple endowment, full-time missionary service, temple marriage, and fatherhood.
They encourage communication between young men and their parents.
They ensure that quorum activities and other youth events do not put undue burdens on families or compete with family activities.
Leaders should be especially sensitive to young men who come from homes that lack strong support for gospel living.
This chapter focuses on administering Aaronic Priesthood quorums in a way that will strengthen individual young men and their families. Aaronic Priesthood leaders frequently review chapter 3, which outlines general principles of leadership. These principles include preparing spiritually, participating in councils, ministering to others, and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In this chapter, the term quorum leaders refers to the deacons quorum presidency, the teachers quorum presidency, and the bishop and his assistants in the priests quorum. Adult leaders are quorum advisers, not quorum leaders.
The bishop has responsibility for the Aaronic Priesthood quorums in the ward. He and his counselors comprise the bishopric and the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood in the ward (see Doctrine and Covenants 107:13–15). They watch over and strengthen individual young men, working closely with parents and with other leaders.
The bishop is the presiding high priest in the ward. He is also the president of the priests quorum (see Doctrine and Covenants 107:87–88). In a branch, the branch president acts as the president of the priests quorum.
In the leadership of the priests quorum, the bishop serves with two assistants, both of whom are priests. Although the bishop delegates many responsibilities to his assistants, he serves personally and actively as quorum president. He promotes a spirit of love and unity in the quorum. He regularly attends and presides over quorum presidency meetings and Sunday quorum meetings. He participates in quorum service and activities. In his absence, he designates one of his assistants to assume quorum leadership responsibilities. When a bishop is released, his assistants are also released.
The bishop interviews young men who are preparing to be ordained to the office of priest. He also interviews newly baptized brethren who are at least age 11 and turning 12 during the year to be ordained to the appropriate Aaronic Priesthood office (see 5.2.2, and Handbook 1, 16.7.2) and to receive a limited-use temple recommend (see Handbook 1, 3.4.6 and 3.4.14). He conducts this interview for new converts soon after their confirmation, normally within a week.
The bishop assigns his first counselor responsibility for the teachers quorum and his second counselor responsibility for the deacons quorum. These counselors promote a spirit of love and unity in the quorums. They participate in quorum service and activities. They attend quorum presidency meetings and Sunday quorum meetings. They also regularly attend Young Women meetings and activities and occasionally attend Primary meetings.
With assistance from quorum advisers, the bishop and his counselors orient quorum presidencies, teach them leadership skills, and help them fulfill their responsibilities.
The bishop interviews each young man at least annually. If possible, he interviews each member of the priests quorum twice annually. If this is not possible, he assigns a counselor to conduct some of these interviews. After each young man who is a member of the deacons or teachers quorum has his annual interview with the bishop, he has an interview with the counselor in the bishopric who has responsibility for his quorum at another time during the year. For guidelines on youth interviews, bishops and their counselors may refer to Handbook 1, 7.1.7.
The bishop or an assigned counselor interviews young men who are preparing to be ordained to the offices of deacon and teacher.
The bishop or an assigned counselor interviews the deacons quorum president, the teachers quorum president, and the priests quorum assistants regularly. In these interviews, the bishopric member and the quorum leader discuss priesthood duties, the progress of individual quorum members, and the progress of the quorum as a whole.
The bishop and his counselors recognize each young man in sacrament meeting when he is to be ordained to an office in the priesthood. Young men do not come to the podium but stand in the congregation as their names are presented and they are sustained.
The bishopric calls and sets apart Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers and specialists.
The bishop calls his assistants in the priests quorum. He or an assigned counselor calls deacons and teachers quorum presidencies and quorum secretaries. Members of the bishopric counsel together prayerfully to determine whom to call to these positions. They do not select leaders merely because of age or seniority in the quorum. The bishop and his counselors may consult with quorum advisers as they seek inspiration about whom to call.
When a member of the bishopric calls a young man to serve as a deacons or teachers quorum president, he asks that young man to recommend whom to call as counselors and a secretary. The bishopric member counsels the quorum president to approach this responsibility prayerfully, seeking guidance from the Lord about whom to recommend. However, the bishopric member also helps the quorum president understand that final responsibility to receive inspiration on whom to call rests with the bishopric.
A member of the bishopric seeks permission from a young man’s parents before asking him to serve in any of these callings.
After extending these callings, a member of the bishopric presents the quorum leaders for a sustaining vote in their quorum meeting. Then the bishop or an assigned counselor sets the young men apart. The bishop sets apart his assistants in the priests quorum. He also sets apart the deacons quorum president and the teachers quorum president because only he can give them the priesthood keys of their callings. He may assign his counselors to set apart counselors in deacons and teachers quorum presidencies and quorum secretaries.
A member of the bishopric announces these callings in sacrament meeting but does not ask for a sustaining vote.
The bishopric orients quorum presidencies using “Aaronic Priesthood Quorum and Young Women Class Presidency Orientation” (see AaronicPriesthoodQuorums.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Aaronic Priesthood quorum leaders “sit in council” with quorum members, “teaching them the duties of their office” (see Doctrine and Covenants 107:85–86). They seek inspiration in fulfilling their responsibilities. They also receive instruction and guidance from the bishopric and quorum advisers. Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidents hold the priesthood keys to direct the work of the quorums over which they preside. Counselors in the deacons and teachers quorum presidencies and assistants to the bishop in the priests quorum do not hold priesthood keys.
Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies and assistants to the bishop in the priests quorum watch over and fellowship quorum members and other young men of quorum age. They give special attention to those who are new members or less active and those who have disabilities or other special needs. Quorum leaders strive to develop love and brotherhood among quorum members.
Aaronic Priesthood quorum leaders provide quorum members with opportunities for priesthood assignments, leadership experiences, and spiritual growth.
They hold regular quorum presidency meetings.
They conduct Sunday quorum meetings.
They help plan quorum activities and other youth activities.
On occasion, they may give gospel instruction in Sunday quorum meetings, with help from quorum advisers.
The deacons quorum president, the teachers quorum president, and one of the priests quorum assistants serve on the ward youth council (see 18.2.9).
Quorum secretaries have the following responsibilities:
They compile and review attendance information and submit it to the ward clerk or to an Aaronic Priesthood quorum specialist responsible for attendance (see 8.3.6).
They consult with quorum leaders to prepare agendas for presidency meetings. They attend these meetings, take notes, and keep track of assignments.
They may help quorum leaders and advisers plan activities.
Each Aaronic Priesthood quorum has an adviser. These brethren work under the direction of their assigned member of the bishopric. They also receive orientation and ongoing support from the high councilor who serves as stake Young Men president. They may be assisted in their responsibilities by specialists (see 8.3.6).
Quorum advisers have the following responsibilities:
They guide Aaronic Priesthood quorums in fulfilling their priesthood duties.
They get to know each young man and become familiar with his talents, interests, and challenges. They look for ways to strengthen young men individually, help them grow in their testimonies, and encourage them to participate in their quorums. They give special attention to young men who are new members and young men who are less active.
They support each young man in his family.
They help young men work toward the objectives listed in 8.1.3.
In response to assignments given in ward council meetings, they may work with quorum presidencies to organize service committees.
They may counsel with parents and priesthood leaders about the needs of young men.
They may teach lessons in Sunday quorum meetings, though they may share this responsibility with the bishopric and the young men. They oversee efforts to improve gospel learning and teaching in the quorums. They participate in and encourage other leaders to participate in teacher council meetings (see 5.5.7). In these efforts, they follow the principles in 5.5.3 and 5.5.4.
They attend Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidency meetings and provide guidance as needed. They help the bishopric teach leadership skills and qualities to quorum presidencies and priests quorum assistants (see 8.14).
They work with quorum leaders as they plan and carry out quorum activities and other youth activities.
They help the bishopric and quorum leaders build quorum unity.
They help quorum leaders oversee the records, reports, budget, and finances of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums. A specialist (see 8.3.6) may help with this responsibility.
This calling has been discontinued. A specialist may be called to help quorum leaders keep track of attendance, compile attendance information, and submit it quarterly to the ward clerk (see 8.3.6).
The bishopric may call Aaronic Priesthood quorum specialists to assist the quorum advisers. These specialists may:
Teach lessons in Sunday quorum meetings.
Assist with activities.
Help quorum presidencies and secretaries in other ways as needed.
Other specialists may be called to assist with an event such as a camp or youth conference.
Another reason for calling specialists is to ensure that at least two adult men are present at quorum meetings and activities when bishopric members attend Young Women and Primary.
The bishopric may call men as coaches for sports teams. The coaches serve under the direction of the bishopric and Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers. For information about sports programs, see 13.6.21.
Serving as ministering brothers is a priesthood responsibility of teachers, priests, and Melchizedek Priesthood holders. For detailed information about this service, including instructions about giving assignments to Aaronic Priesthood holders, see 7.4.
All young men in the teachers or priests quorum may receive assignments as ministering brothers. They need not wait until their 14th birthday.
The guideline that two responsible adults be present with youth does not apply to the assignment of ministering companions. However, under the direction of their bishop, leaders should use wisdom and seek inspiration when assigning youth as companions to adults (see 7.4.3).
Adult companions should avoid situations that might be misunderstood. They should use care regarding isolated one-on-one situations so that young men have a safe and rewarding experience with ministering. Additionally, leaders should use wisdom in not assigning young men to difficult home or family situations. When youth are assigned to a companion who is not a parent, leaders should confirm that parents do not object to the assignment.
Where a ward is geographically concentrated and where safety conditions permit, the bishop may direct Aaronic Priesthood holders, especially deacons, to contact member households each month to give members the opportunity to contribute fast offerings.
Priesthood holders should go in pairs when gathering fast offerings. Melchizedek Priesthood holders may accompany Aaronic Priesthood holders if necessary.
Members should not give other contributions, such as tithing, to those who collect fast offerings.
Those who gather fast offerings deliver them promptly to a member of the bishopric.
The parents of a 10- or 11-year-old boy have the primary responsibility for helping him prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. Other family members and ministering brothers assist. The support of ministering brothers may be especially important in homes where the father is absent or is not an active member of the Church.
Primary leaders and teachers support families in helping 10- and 11-year-old boys prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and be ordained to the office of deacon.
Each year, the Primary presidency prepares a meeting called Temple and Priesthood Preparation under the direction of the bishopric (see 11.5.5). The deacons quorum presidency and adviser may be invited to participate.
The Lord expects each able young man to prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially for full-time missionary service. The earlier a young man decides to serve a mission, the more likely it is that he will serve.
Each young man should prepare by developing his own testimony and his own relationship with the Lord. He should also prepare by studying the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. Many of the goals and activities suggested in the Duty to God program can help a young man prepare for missionary service.
Parents have the primary responsibility for helping their sons prepare to serve full-time missions. Other family members, bishopric members, Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies and advisers, ministering brothers, and others support parents in this effort.
Helping quorum members prepare for missionary service is a high priority for bishopric members and quorum advisers. This preparation begins in the deacons quorum and continues throughout each young man’s years in the Aaronic Priesthood. Leaders look for ways to include missionary preparation in quorum meetings, presidency meetings, quorum activities, and other settings.
Bishopric members and quorum advisers help young men prepare for full-time missions in the following ways:
They provide opportunities in quorum meetings and activities for quorum members to feel and recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost.
They encourage young men to have a limited-use temple recommend and, where possible, to use it regularly.
They teach young men the basic doctrines that missionaries teach, such as the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the plan of salvation, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. They may use Preach My Gospel as a resource for teaching these doctrines.
They encourage young men to study the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, on their own every day. They also encourage young men to study Preach My Gospel.
They teach young men and their parents about the expectations for full-time missionaries. These expectations include gospel knowledge and testimony, personal worthiness, physical fitness, social and emotional maturity, and financial preparation. Adult leaders guide young men in setting goals to reach these expectations.
They encourage young men to attend seminary.
They provide opportunities for service, including assignments for teachers and priests to serve as ministering brothers.
They give young men opportunities to teach the gospel in quorum meetings and other settings.
They encourage young men to share the gospel with friends and family members.
They provide opportunities for young men to learn from and interact with exemplary returned missionaries, in both formal and informal settings.
As part of this preparation, the bishopric and quorum advisers encourage priest-age young men to attend a missionary preparation class. Depending on the number of these young men, this class may be organized by the bishopric at the ward level or by the stake presidency at the stake level. The main resources for this class are the scriptures, the Missionary Handbook, and Preach My Gospel. This class is not held during regular Sunday meetings. At the stake president’s or bishop’s discretion and based on local needs, it may be held at other times for individuals, families, or groups.
Additional instructions for bishops are provided in Handbook 1, 4.2.
Worthy brethren may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be ordained elders when they are 18 years old or older. Based on individual circumstances, such as a young man’s testimony and maturity, school graduation, desire to continue with peers, and college attendance, the bishop determines whether a young man should be ordained an elder soon after his 18th birthday or remain with the priests quorum longer.
In making this decision, the bishop consults first with the young man and his parents. By age 19, or prior to leaving home to attend college, serve in the military, or accept full-time employment, all worthy brethren should be ordained elders. Bishoprics, Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers, and elders quorum leaders work together to help each young man progress.
The bishopric represents the young men in ward council meetings (see chapter 4).
The bishop presides over the ward youth council. This council is composed of the bishopric, one of the bishop’s priests quorum assistants, the deacons and teachers quorum presidents, the Young Women class presidency (if just one class) or presidents (if multiple classes), and the Young Women president. For more information, see 18.2.9.
Each quorum presidency holds a presidency meeting regularly. The bishop regularly attends and presides over the priests quorum presidency meeting, and one of his assistants conducts it. The deacons quorum president and teachers quorum president conduct their presidency meetings, and they preside unless a member of the bishopric attends. Quorum advisers, specialists, and secretaries also attend these meetings. Secretaries take notes and keep track of assignments.
The agenda may include the following items:
Plan ways to strengthen quorum members, including new members and less-active members. Also plan ways to fellowship young men of other faiths.
Read and discuss scripture passages and instructions from Church leaders that relate to the responsibilities of priesthood leaders.
Plan to visit quorum members as needed.
Plan quorum meetings and activities.
Consider items to discuss in ward youth council meeting (see 18.2.9).
Receive leadership training from bishopric members or quorum advisers.
Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, quorum presidency meeting may be used to make plans for the quorum’s Scouting unit after the items above have been discussed. If youth and adult Scouting leaders are not already present, they may be invited into the meeting for this discussion. Young men of other faiths who hold leadership positions in the Scouting unit may be included. The quorum president continues to preside over this part of the meeting. He may invite a youth Scouting leader to conduct it. Quorum advisers ensure that each Scouting activity is consistent with the objectives listed in 8.1.3.
This meeting is no longer held. The bishopric regularly discusses the needs and opportunities of young men in bishopric, ward council, and quorum presidency meetings.
The stake presidency convenes a stake priesthood leadership meeting in connection with each stake conference (see 18.3.1, item 2). The presidency also convenes one other stake priesthood leadership meeting during the year, for a total of three such meetings annually.
Bishoprics attend these meetings. Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers, deacons and teachers quorum presidencies, and priests quorum assistants may be invited occasionally, such as when the meeting includes subjects that will be especially helpful in their callings.
Standards provide sure direction to strengthen and guide members of the Church. As young men keep gospel standards, they will be of great service in the Church and the world. They will also be worthy to receive the ordinances of the temple.
In the booklet For the Strength of Youth, the First Presidency outlines gospel standards and teaches youth how to apply them. Every young man should have a copy of For the Strength of Youth. He should review the standards often and consider how well he is living them.
Quorum advisers and specialists should study the standards in the booklet and exemplify them. They should find ways to teach and reinforce these standards often in lessons and camps, youth conferences, and other activities.
Bishopric members and quorum advisers can encourage parents to study gospel standards, exemplify them, and discuss them with their sons. They can also encourage young men to use For the Strength of Youth as a resource for home evening lessons and talks.
Aaronic Priesthood quorum meetings are held on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. They last 50 minutes.
The purposes of quorum meetings are to strengthen faith in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ; conduct quorum business; learn priesthood duties; and study the gospel. Bishopric members, quorum leaders, and quorum advisers prayerfully plan the meetings to accomplish these purposes.
Aaronic Priesthood quorums normally meet separately. However, in a ward or branch with few young men, quorums may meet together for instruction. Even when quorums meet together, separate quorums should be organized, with quorum leaders called and sustained for each quorum. When possible, each quorum should begin to meet separately.
Quorum presidents preside at quorum meetings unless a person with higher presiding authority is present. A member of the quorum presidency or a priests quorum assistant conducts. He reminds quorum members of the Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families home study materials for that day and the following week. If quorums meet together, the priests quorum assistants and members of the teachers and deacons quorum presidencies take turns conducting.
Lessons in quorum meetings focus on gospel topics in Come, Follow Me—For Aaronic Priesthood. Bishoprics and quorum advisers, assisted by quorum leaders, select the lesson outlines that best meet the needs of quorum members. These outlines are provided at ComeFollowMe.ChurchofJesusChrist.org and in the printed Come, Follow Me—For Aaronic Priesthood manual. Leaders encourage each quorum member to bring scriptures where possible.
Lessons may be taught by quorum advisers or specialists. These brethren may divide this responsibility as needed. Bishopric members, quorum leaders, and other quorum members may assist in teaching. When quorum leaders or members give instruction, the adviser or a parent helps them prepare. Those who teach should follow the principles in 5.5.4.
Adults 19 and older who hold an Aaronic Priesthood office are prospective elders. They meet with the elders quorum for Sunday instruction. The bishop may also invite 18-year-old Aaronic Priesthood holders to meet with the elders quorum.
When a special need exists, Aaronic Priesthood quorums may meet together briefly before the young men go to individual quorum meetings. Young men and young women may also meet together occasionally, as directed by the bishopric.
Sunday quorum meetings do not begin with a hymn or prayer, but they conclude with a prayer. Hymns may be used to enhance a lesson as appropriate.
All Aaronic Priesthood holders are encouraged to participate in the Duty to God program. This program gives Aaronic Priesthood holders opportunities to develop spiritual strength, learn and fulfill their priesthood duties, prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and serve full-time missions, maintain physical health, and improve their relationships with others.
Parents and leaders encourage young men to participate in the program soon after they are ordained to their first priesthood office. Young men continue to set goals throughout their years in the Aaronic Priesthood.
Quorum leaders and quorum advisers plan activities based on the needs and interests of quorum members. They make a special effort to reach out to all young men, including those who have recently joined the Church and those who are less active. Activities may help young men accomplish their goals in the Duty to God program. Quorum leaders should participate as much as possible in planning and carrying out activities.
Plans for quorum activities should be approved by a member of the bishopric and should follow the guidelines in chapter 13.
Activities should provide youth with a variety of opportunities to serve others and to develop spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually.
Activities are generally held weekly. If travel or other considerations make this impractical, they may be held less frequently but should be held at least monthly. Activities should be 1 to 1½ hours long and should take place on a day or evening other than Sunday or Monday.
The bishopric, supported by Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers and specialists (as needed), oversees activities for young men.
Under the direction of the bishopric, Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers may occasionally use activities to prepare for stake or multistake activities (see 13.3).
Each year, the First Presidency announces a youth theme. Leaders emphasize this theme in opening exercises and in other youth activities.
As needed and where appropriate, youth activities begin with brief opening exercises presided over by a member of the bishopric. The bishop’s priests quorum assistants and members of the oldest Young Women class presidency take turns conducting. Adult leaders prepare youth leaders for this responsibility.
Opening exercises include a hymn and prayer and may also include musical selections and opportunities for the youth to share their talents and testimonies.
Following opening exercises, Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes generally hold separate activities. In a ward or branch with few young men, all the young men may meet together for activities. Activities may also be planned for any combination of quorums and classes.
Combined activities for all young men and young women are normally held once a month. Members of the ward youth council schedule, plan, and review these activities in their meetings. The activities are carried out under the direction of the bishopric.
Some examples of appropriate activities are service projects, music, dance, drama, cultural events, sports or athletic events, career exploration, and outdoor activities.
Bishopric youth discussions are planned and carried out by the bishopric. These discussions, which are held occasionally, give the bishopric opportunities to address subjects that are interesting to the youth and that strengthen the youth spiritually. Topics in For the Strength of Youth and True to the Faith are especially appropriate. Occasionally the bishopric may invite guests to participate. Guests are usually members of the ward or stake.
Bishopric youth discussions may be held with all of the youth together or with the youth of a certain age-group. They may be held during youth activities, on Sunday during the time for quorum meetings and Young Women classes, or at another time that does not put undue burden on families. The bishopric determines their frequency. They are scheduled in ward youth council meetings.
Standards events are special programs that emphasize moral values and eternal goals. They encourage young men to live the standards in For the Strength of Youth, which will bring them closer to the Savior.
These events are held annually or more often as needed. They may be held on a quorum, ward, multiward, or stake level. Depending on how a subject is presented, these events may include any combination of Aaronic Priesthood quorums. They may also include mothers, fathers, mothers and fathers together, and young women.
Funding for Aaronic Priesthood activities, including Scouting activities where they are authorized by the Church, should come from the ward budget (see 13.2.8).
If the ward budget does not have sufficient funds to pay for an annual extended Scout camp or similar activity for young men, leaders may ask participants to pay for part or all of it. If funds from participants are not sufficient, the bishop may authorize one group fund-raising activity annually that complies with the guidelines in 13.6.8.
In no case should the expenses or travel for an annual camp or similar activity be excessive. Nor should the lack of personal funds prohibit a member from participating.
If possible, equipment and supplies that the ward needs for annual youth camps are purchased with ward budget funds. If these funds are not sufficient, the bishop may authorize one group fund-raising activity annually that complies with the guidelines in 13.6.8.
Equipment and supplies purchased with Church funds, whether from the ward budget or a fund-raising activity, are for Church use only. They are not for the personal use of individuals or families.
Church funds may not be used to purchase uniforms for individuals.
Quorum advisers and specialists teach leadership skills and qualities as they work with quorum presidencies and the ward youth council to help young men plan and carry out activities and give service. In this effort, advisers and specialists may refer to chapter 3 in this handbook.
Members of the stake presidency oversee the Aaronic Priesthood in the stake. As part of this responsibility, they instruct bishops in their duty to preside over the Aaronic Priesthood in their wards.
The stake president assigns one of his counselors responsibility for the work of the stake Young Men presidency.
For more information about the responsibilities of the stake presidency, see 15.1.
The stake president calls a member of the high council to serve as the stake Young Men president. This high councilor’s responsibilities are outlined in 15.4.
The counselors in the stake Young Men presidency can be brethren called from the membership of the stake. Or, based upon local circumstances, they can be the high councilors assigned to Young Women and Primary.
The responsibilities of the stake Young Men presidency are outlined in 15.4.1.
A brother from the membership of the stake may be called as stake Young Men secretary. His responsibilities are outlined in 15.4.2.
The stake president assigns a counselor to preside over the stake Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women committee. Other committee members are the high councilors assigned to the stake Young Women and Primary organizations, the stake Young Men presidency and secretary, and the stake Young Women presidency and secretary. The stake presidency may also invite the stake Sunday School president to participate.
The stake presidency may invite youth to attend the committee’s meetings as needed. Youth should be included as much as possible in planning and carrying out activities such as youth conferences, dances, devotionals, and multistake events. Youth may also participate in discussions about challenges that the youth in the stake are facing.
In a ward or branch with few young men, Aaronic Priesthood quorums may meet together for instruction (see 8.11). They also may meet together for activities.
If adult leadership is limited in a ward or branch, the bishopric or branch presidency, with one or two advisers, may teach the Sunday lessons and administer the activity program. In a very small unit, the bishopric may be the only adult Aaronic Priesthood leaders. In this case, they teach the Sunday lessons and oversee activities for all young men. When possible, advisers should be called. (For guidelines on having two responsible adults present, see 8.17.5.)
Because youth often benefit from socializing in larger groups, the young men and young women in two or more small wards or branches may meet occasionally for combined activities. If neighboring wards and branches have few young men, the bishops and branch presidents may authorize the young men to meet together for weekly activities. When considering these options, bishops and branch presidents take into account factors such as distance and travel cost.
In a small stake or a district, the Young Men president may be the only stake or district Young Men leader. When possible, counselors and a secretary should be called.
For general information about adapting to local needs, see chapter 17.
Youth may enjoy the privileges that are appropriate for their age-group. With their parents’ approval, youth may attend camps beginning in January of the year they turn 12. Likewise, youth may attend dances and youth conferences beginning in January of the year they turn 14. However, a young woman or young man should be at least age 16 before beginning to date (see For the Strength of Youth , 4).
All conduct should comply with Church standards and exemplify Christlike behavior (see For the Strength of Youth and chapter 13 of this handbook). In addition, leaders may set guidelines to ensure safety and to accomplish the goals of an activity. All should understand that participation is a privilege, not a right. It can be revoked if someone behaves inappropriately or poses a risk to self or others. Leaders communicate expectations to parents and participants. They counsel together to address concerns that arise.
The Church has published True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference as a companion to the study of the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets. Members of the bishopric or quorum advisers ensure that each young man has a copy of the book. Young men can use the book as a resource as they study and apply gospel principles, prepare talks, teach classes, and answer questions about the Church.
Young men of other faiths who agree to abide by Church standards should be welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate in youth activities. Expenses for their participation should be handled the same as for young men who are members of the Church. When these young men participate in Scouting, their parents may give donations to help fund activities.
Young men who have disabilities are normally included in their regular quorums. Exceptions may be made with the approval of the parents and the bishopric.
All adults with callings in the Young Men organization are to complete children and youth protection training (protectingchildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org) within one month of being sustained and every three years thereafter.
When adults are teaching children or youth in Church settings, at least two responsible adults should be present. The two adults could be two men, two women, or a married couple. Where it may not be practical to have at least two adults in a classroom, leaders should consider combining classes.
The guideline that two responsible adults be present with youth does not apply to the assignment of ministering companions. However, leaders should use wisdom and seek inspiration when assigning youth as companions to adults (see 7.4.3).