Starting January 2018, Sunday meetings for Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society will have greater emphasis on counseling together, learning from general conference messages, and studying special topics selected by their general leaders, according to a letter from the First Presidency.
BYU-Hawaii students said the new curriculum gives members freedom to teach lessons in line with their needs.
Relief Society President of the YSA 14th Ward Marcia Suwanto, a junior majoring in hospitality and tourism management from Indonesia, said, “The 2018 curriculum gives us more opportunities to meet the needs of members, and it allows more discussion. When we have assigned topics, not everybody can relate at the same time. With the new curriculum, we are more free to teach lessons related in our time than following a specific topic.”
The first Sunday will be a council meeting where the quorums and organizations discuss the needs of their local areas. The second and third Sundays will be focused on modern general conference messages. The fourth will be on a doctrinal topic selected by church leaders. With months that have fifth Sundays, the bishopric or branch presidency will choose the topic.
Kimball Heaton, the Sunday School president in the YSA 14th Ward and a biomedicine junior from Utah, said the new curriculum is similar to Preach My Gospel. He said, “I like it because it is more diverse, and we can put more things into it than just following a manual. It is a way of teaching according to the needs of people. Instead of giving a generic lesson, it will be tailored to our needs.”
The curriculum change was announced on Aug. 25. The First Presidency sent out a letter announcing the new materials for Sunday meetings, called “Come, Follow Me—For Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society Meetings.” The letter says the program will emphasize a new focus in “counseling together in quorums, groups, and Relief Societies; and organizing to meet local needs.”
Heaton added, “It lets the Spirit guide our teaching more instead of following the strict basic lesson plan.”
In an LDS news release, Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, a Seventy and assistant executive director in the Priesthood and Family Department, says, “One of the reasons for the new approach is to give increased emphasis to the words of the living prophets.”
Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, adds, “Focusing our gospel study on the words of living prophets and apostles will give even greater meaning to our study of the ‘ancient’ scriptures.
Ryan Domingo, the ward clerk in the Laie YSA 8th Ward and an accounting junior from the Philippines, said the new curriculum offers a personal approach and is more focused. He said, “I never doubted the instructions the church releases. I’m sure they prayed about it to meet the concerns of each member.”
Ntonga Terabwena, a senior majoring in elementary education from Kiribati, said she sees the changes as more productive and effective. She said, “There are certain topics that should be more emphasized these days like responsible use of media and technology.” More information about the 2018 Sunday school material can be found on comefollowme.lds.org.
NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the Dec. 2017 print issue.