The Church has announced changes for Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society Sunday meetings in 2018 that affect not only what materials adults will study but also how they use the time they meet together to accomplish the Lord's work.
An August 25 letter from the First Presidency announced that the new 2018 materials—Come, Follow Me—For Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society Meetings—will emphasize learning from general conference messages and counseling together.
Similar to the “Come, Follow Me” youth curriculum implemented in 2013, the materials encourage Relief Society and Melchizedek Priesthood leaders to follow the teaching and learning approach of Teaching in the Savior’s Way (see teaching.lds.org). In addition, the new materials also emphasize:
- Learning from general conference messages.
- Studying special topics selected every six months by general leaders of the Church.
- Counseling together as priesthood quorums and groups and Relief Societies.
The new materials for adults, which replace the Teachings of Presidents of the Church series used from 1998 to 2017, do not affect Sunday School classes.
2018 Sunday schedule
According to the announcement, Sunday Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society meetings will follow this monthly schedule:
Counseling together about local needs
Presidency or group leadership
Second and Third Sundays
Recent general conference message
Presidency or group leadership or a called teacher
Special topic chosen by general Church leaders (announced in May and November issues of the Liahona and Ensignmagazines)
Presidency or group leadership or a called teacher
Topic chosen by the bishopric
Bishopric or someone they assign
General conference messages and special topics
“One of the reasons for the new approach is to give increased emphasis to the words of the living prophets,” said Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, General Authority Seventy and Assistant Executive Director in the Priesthood and Family Department. “We’re going to not just devote more time to the messages given by the senior leadership of the Church at general conference, but we are also going to provide some teaching tools to help the instruction and discussion of those messages be all the more rich and meaningful for the members of the Church.”
Local leaders will counsel together about which conference messages will best meet the needs of their members, and Relief Society and Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and groups don’t have to study the same message the same week.
“Focusing our gospel study on the words of living prophets and apostles will give even greater meaning to our study of the ‘ancient’ scriptures,” said Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President. “In our classes and quorums, we’ll help one another find ways to apply their counsel in our daily lives and then have the opportunity to share how we’ve been blessed from following that counsel. I love how this will help us learn from the Spirit as well as from one another.”
The new curriculum also provides a mechanism for topics of particular interest to apostles and prophets—such as the recent emphasis on the Sabbath day—to be discussed in fourth-Sunday meetings, Elder Curtis said.
An eight-page insert in the general conference issues of the Liahona and Ensign magazines will include teaching tools for helping members search, analyze, and apply general conference messages, as well as the topics for fourth-Sunday lessons.
Members can easily find general conference messages:
First-Sunday meetings, held under the direction of ward Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders, are used to identify local needs and counsel together about how to meet those needs, according to a questions and answers document released with the First Presidency letter.
“We want to extend the power that exists in counseling together—not just to the ward councils and presidencies but also into the Relief Societies and quorums of the Church,” explained Elder Curtis.
“When we counsel together, we discover ways to lift and strengthen each other that also build unity,” said Sister Bingham. “What a blessing it is for each of us to participate in God’s work, to become instruments for good in such a natural way!”
Possible topics for first-Sunday councils include how to improve communication with family members, serve in the community, and mentor youth in the ward or branch. In subsequent meetings, the quorum, group, or Relief Society follows up on impressions and actions.
“I am excited and thrilled with this new program. I feel that it is for our time today,” said Norma Joyner, a ward Relief Society president in Savannah, Georgia, who participated in a pilot of the new materials along with members from 12 stakes in Utah, Mexico, California, and Georgia. “I know that we will be more involved in choosing the subject matter and talks that will most benefit our sisters in the ward. It's an exciting time to be a member of the Church with all the new programs to help us grow in the gospel and be good stewards to each other, our families, and our communities.”
Marc Oslund, an elders quorum president from American Fork, Utah, who also participated in the pilot, said using the new curriculum helped increase the unity of the quorum and the relevancy of the lessons. “We now sit in a circle, and each week feels like a council. We are getting more engagement and more application to daily lives than I have experienced in elders quorum ever before. … Because we are always responding to needs and to current concerns of the quorum members, the Holy Ghost is present in more abundance.”
Learn more about the 2018 materials
Then in November 2017, watch for the new materials, along with information about how to use them:
- At comefollowme.lds.org.
- In the Gospel Library app.
- In an 8-page insert in the November 2017 and May 2018 issues of the Liahona and Ensign.
More information on counseling together will be in the January 2018 issues of the Liahona and Ensign.