Meeting the Challenges of Special Groups

“Meeting the Challenges of Special Groups,” New Era, Feb. 1972, 21

Meeting the Challenges of Special Groups

A special kind of family feeling exists among active Latter-day Saints. But the real, harder-to-realize brotherhood is that which makes an outsider feel like an insider. Here are some ideas on how to deal with several different groups who seem to have special needs:

The Marginal Mormon

Sometimes called inactive or semiactive, this person, as a rule, has never experienced the joy of membership and the richness of gospel truths. Suggestions on how to reach him are:

1. Find out his special interests and talents through a fellowshiping committee and then invite him to an event or activity in which he would be interested.

2. Let him know he is needed. Ask him to help in a special assignment, particularly in his field of interest.

A special application of this idea is working at Utah State University, where active and semiactive Mormons are asked to work with fellow inactive members who are in the same academic discipline and who feel that they are having problems with the gospel and their academic studies.

Ethnic Concerns

It is unfortunate but understandable that in a worldwide church that opens its arms to people of all races, some members will not have sufficient maturity to deal with everyone in the kingdom as true brothers and sisters. Ideas:

1. Invite representatives of minority groups to participate in panels and informal gatherings and to talk about their ideas and needs. This paves the way to trust and brotherhood.

2. Tutoring projects are sometimes needed, particularly among students who speak other languages in their homes. Students at Ricks College are eagerly helping Lamanite students in this way.

In a day of concern for the Spanish-American in the United States, it was refreshing to hear a Florida delegate report, “We have a good spirit existing between the Anglos and the Cubans at our school. It’s something that we’re all very happy about.”

Older Single Girls

Early in the discussion, everyone agreed that no age limit should ever be set for this group. The greatest need is social involvement. A few ideas:

1. Get involved immediately in the stake senior M Man-Gleaner program.

2. Check out the nearest institute of religion to see if the classes, as well as the age group of the students, are agreeable.

3. Attend firesides and other activities that bring new faces together.

4. Chat with your bishop or branch president.

Older single girls should be asked to participate and share their training or experience. Often they have advanced skills in many fields and are walking libraries of helpful information on vocations, job opportunities, and necessary schooling. They can generously assist in countless projects and answer many questions for students about living alone or away from home, living conditions in given areas, and related situations.

Illustrated by Jerry Harston