For the last fourteen months I have been part of one of our council’s strategic initiatives—direct service to LDS Stakes to meet their youths’ needs their way. We have conducted research to learn how to reach them better, resulting in Six Pillars of Communication for Working with LDS Leaders. We have made sales calls to more than 200 stakes to explore their specific youth needs. Beyond our usual merit badge camps, we have explored outdoor program adaptations with more than 100 stakes and wards, resulting in these new outdoor products:
- Aaronic Priesthood Encampments
- Young Womens Girls’ Camps
- Father and Son campouts
- High Adventure activities with both young men and young women
- Leadership Training Academy, including priesthood-led Wood Badge and Coed NYLT Timberline
- Helaman Camps
- Traditional merit badge-focused summer camps (bringing the entire LDS stake’s young men)
- Activity Day events for girls 8–11
- and more…
We have found that by addressing church needs on their terms, our service opportunities became endless! Even better, we realized that we were not meeting our customer needs very well and can now support them the way they want and need to be served.
If you click on that title, you will be introduced to BSA’s top faith, civic and education partners. But specifically, if you click on Scouting in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Community you will get some useful information in working with LDS partners. However, our experiences show that each LDS stake and ward have unique needs. If you learn to meet those needs by sitting and talking with them, great things can happen.
For example, all 15 (yes, I said 15) of our 2016 Wood Badge courses will be stake sponsored and more than half of our 40 NYLT courses will be stake sponsored too. When a stake sponsors a course, they fill it and help each other work their tickets, unleashing a new wave of Scouting synergy in their neighborhood and Scouting strengthens.
Learning Church Speak Instead of The Language of Scouting
Our surveys of LDS leaders clearly show The Language of Scouting is a foreign language. What LDS leaders need is someone who can speak their language. Here are a few terms to help you speak their language:
- Primary: This Church organization is for children ages three through 11. “Scouting should complement the efforts of … Primary classes in building testimonies in …boys. Scouting under Church sponsorship should become an extension of the home [and] Primary classes … Scouting functions as part of the Church’s activity program for boys…”1 The Primary presidency (three women) supervises Scouting for Primary-aged boys eight through 11, as such they may be registered on the pack and/or troop committee. The ages and stages of Primary Scouts are as follows:
- Cub Scouts (Wolf and Bear), ages 8 and 9
- Webelos Scouts, age 10
- New Scout patrol, 11-year-old Scouts
Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting are not grade based, but are based on ages, thus registration and membership recruitment are ongoing and not part of a fall or spring membership campaign.
- The Aaronic Priesthood, (named for Aaron, the brother of Moses in the Old Testament), is conferred upon faithful male members of the Church beginning at age 12 and includes the offices of deacon, teacher, and priest. Under LDS priesthood leadership, “Scouting should complement the efforts of Aaronic Priesthood quorums … Scouting functions as part of the Church’s activity program for boys and young men. Scouting activities should be planned to fulfill gospel-centered purposes.”2
- Quorum: Organized group of men or boys who hold the same office in the priesthood. They may be ordained to an office in the Aaronic Priesthood starting at age 12. Young men are registered to age appropriate Scouting units.
- Organizationally, this correlates with Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting and Venturing this way:
- Aaronic Priesthood holders:
- Prepare and offer the sacrament (communion) to Church members during Sunday worship services.
- Help to visit members in their homes.
- Collect contributions for the poor.
- Perform other service duties.
- Their weeknight activities, called Mutual, are usually Scouting meetings.
- Bishop: Leader of a local congregation (known as a ward) who also acts as president of his Priests Quorum. His duties are similar to those of a pastor, priest, or rabbi. The bishop has two counselors, and the three (known as the bishopric) are unpaid. The bishop is registered with the BSA as the institutional head; one of his counselors is usually registered as the chartered organization representative, but both BSA terms are virtually meaningless to Latter-day Saints. The Bishop may elect to serve on the Crew committee.
- Congregations are formed as Wards or Branches:
- Ward: Basic geographical unit of the LDS Church, consisting of several hundred members in a single congregation, presided over by a bishop and two counselors. In BSA terminology, the ward is the chartered organization.
- Branch: When the local congregation, is smaller, in an area where the Church is in a developing stage, a Branch is formed. Once developed, a branch can become a ward. The leader of a branch is called the branch president; he and his two counselors are known as the branch presidency. The branch president is the institutional head; one of the counselors usually serves as the chartered organization representative.
- Calling: In Scouting you might think of this as recruiting adult leaders, but in the LDS Church, an invitation to one of their members to accept an office or responsibility in the Church is referred to as a “calling.” Worthy adults who meet church standards, members or non-members of the Church, may be “called” to serve as Scout leaders.
- Mormon: When referring to Church members, the term “Latter-day Saints” is preferred, although “Mormon” is also acceptable. The nickname comes from a fourth-century prophet, Mormon, in the Americas who abridged historical and religious records of his people onto metal plates which later became known as the Book of Mormon.
- Stake: Geographical subdivision of the Church composed of several wards (similar to a diocese). The stake presidency consists of the stake president (the leader of the stake) and two counselors. Sometimes one these men serve as an Assistant District Commissioner for the Stake. The President may serve on the Council LDS Relationships committee.
As you come to know and use LDS terms, your service to their congregations can improve. To learn more about Scouting in the LDS Church, consult their publication listed below.
1 1.1 Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States Revised May 2012 for Church Units in the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, p. 1
2 1.1 ibid., p. 1