The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will engage in new curriculum for Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society. For the Sunday school curriculum (14 to Adults), our study will focus on Doctrine and Covenants and Church History. Members should receive – or already possess – the following copies: Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Class Member Study Guide and Our Heritage: A brief history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An additional resource Mormon Apologia high suggests is Truth Restored.
The purpose of this years curriculum is to help members of the Church gain a greater understanding and appreciation for this unique set of scripture (The Doctrine and Covenants or D&C); as well as a basic understanding of the rise and progress of the Church in these latter-days. Along with this, we are to remind ourselves of the faith of our forefathers and how they struggled to work, endure, and live out their faiths within the social contexts of their time periods. Today, we are blessed because of this innovative pioneering spirit of endurance. The trials of our ancestors experienced during the formidable years of the Church’s growth, movements, and settlements are vastly different than our own trials. Despite the differences, our ability to learn from their trials and faith helps us apply such traits into our own lives today as we face our own life battles. In the introduction to Our Heritage we should strive to take on this understanding and objective:
The heritage of faith continues today. Latter-day Saints throughout the world are modern pioneers in their own homelands, where they live with faith and courage in a time fraught with new challenges and opportunities. There are pages of history yet to be written. We each have an opportunity to leave a heritage for generations to follow that will help them understand the joy of living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Referring to the revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said, “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled” (D&C 1:37). As you study the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history in Gospel Doctrine class and in your families this year, you have the opportunity to learn of commandments, prophecies, and promises that will help you draw nearer to the Lord.
Having the basic foundation of our own history will help us engage in proper discussion as we go about and share our faith with those who are interested about hearing the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days. Hence, the reason why the recommendation to also read through the brief booklet titled Truth Restored because of the overlapping of the material that will be learning in Sunday School. One should also acquire (if financially possible) the Preach My Gospel Manual. This particular manual provides the same material and study the full time Elder, Sister and Senior Missionaries utilize when engaging in missionary work.
It is also the focus of study within the Marysville Washington Stake for 2013 as part of the effort to increase Missionary opportunities for local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Two other good resources (and these maybe available at the local Ward Libraries if one is not able to purchase, or if members within one’s ward may have a copy of) are: Doctrine and Covenants Stories for families with young children and the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History DVD set. Regarding the latter:
The DVDs are designed for use in homes to help in personal study, to provide ideas for family home evening, and to offer other material for youth and children.
This DVD resource is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.
The Doctrine and Covenants Story is a manual families can use where there are young children. This particular resource has a basic reading level and illustrations to help children understand the heritage and foundation of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter-days as well as encourage their own understanding of the Doctrine and Covenants.
With that said, and as previously mentioned, the Priesthood and Relief Society will engage in another series of the Teachings of Presidents of the Church and the manual for 2013 is based on the life and teachings of Lorenzo Snow. This new manual is eleventh in the series.
The premise behind the Teachings of Presidents of the Church series is to help Latter-day Saint members develop a richer and deeper understanding of the Restored Gospel and draw closer to the Lord through the teachings of latter-day prophets. This is important because as we learn from Ancient Prophets (through the study of the Old and New Testaments), we also should have the familiarity of modern day prophets in this latter-dispensation. These series are a reference collection to help with personal study, family study, and in Priesthood and Relief Society studies throughout the Church for 2013.
Writing for the Church News, Clyde J. Williams says this:
As the fifth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lorenzo Snow was the last prophet not born and raised a member of the Church and the last to have, as an adult, personally known the Prophet Joseph Smith. Couple these facts with his experiences in Kirtland, Ohio; Far West, Mo.; Nauvoo, Ill.; the trek across the plains in 1848 and his role as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator at the conclusion of the 19th century, and we are blessed with one who was uniquely prepared to lead the Church in his day.
Williams also relates this poignant observation about particular questions that will be addressed within personal, home/family, and Priesthood/Relief Society study and discussion:
In our study of the teachings of Lorenzo Snow this coming year, many significant questions and issues will be addressed such as: What is the role of women in the work of the Lord? How should we approach striving for perfection? What happens to those who have no opportunity to marry in this life? How often can we enjoy manifestations of the Spirit? What happens to those who allow worldliness and speculation to overcome their minds? These and many more relevant topics are addressed in President Snow’s teachings.
It is quite interesting that the first question Williams points out as to what the study will address and answer is that concerning Women’s role within the context of the work of the Lord. It is quite interesting because we are facing a new wave of questioning of women and equality within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are some who wish to push for women to have the Melchizedek Priesthood bestowed upon them so that they can participate in the administration and ordinances of the priesthood.
Aside from looking at and studying the particular social and cultural issues mentioned, President Snow is also remembered, as Williams relates in his article, for being the one who oversaw a significant change where the Church went from being in financial dire straits to a Church that resolved to satisfy and pay off its debts through the implementation of Tithing. Today, we are the children of our ancestors who faithfully paid a full tithe to the Church and now are members of a Church where a chapel, temple, or any other Church facility where members meet are paid for in full without incurring debt. No other church (outside of probably the Catholic Church) can make the claim of having moved to a debt free economic system. It is also because of the faithful tithes of the members of the Church, many critics are wanting to have an accounting of all the Church finances presented, published, and made public – critics who do not contribute to paying into the Church, or have since revoked their membership to the Church and no longer consider themselves a member of the Church. Through this study, we can see how paying an honest and faithful tithe helped build up the Kingdom of God, moved the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ from financial obscurity into a prosperous and global faith that continues to bless the lives of many people who come seeking after the simple truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Such an example of faithful obedience to the law of tithing provides us the understanding of the types and shadows of blessings that we can incur in our own lives when we live faithfully to the teachings and revelations given by our Heavenly Father through those whom He has called to lead us in these Latter-days.
Last, but not least, is the 2013 curriculum for the Youth. Come Follow me is about teaching the youth of the Church from the perspective of how the Savior taught the multitude. According to the FAQ’s section of the New Youth Curriculum website this new program replaces the manuals that used to be part of the Sunday school curriculum for youth (12 to 18):
The following manuals are now obsolete: Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1 (34820), Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2 (34821), Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3 (34822), Young Women Manual 1 (34823), Young Women Manual 2 (34824), Young Women Manual 3 (34825), The Presidents of the Church (31382), and Preparing for Exaltation (31384).
The purpose behind this new youth curriculum is answered in this FAQ’s:
Come, Follow Me invites you to take personal responsibility for learning—by coming to class prepared to learn, searching the scriptures and words of the prophets, asking questions, teaching and explaining gospel truths to your peers and family, and sharing how the gospel is influencing your life.
Your testimony will grow stronger as you act on what you learn and establish righteous habits, including personal prayer and scripture study, living the standards of the Church, and inviting others to live the gospel through word and example.
You can find videos that introduce youth to Come, Follow Me on lds.org/youth/learn.
The structure of the curriculum is outlined by monthly topical instructions for Young Women and Aaronic Priesthood Holders (or young men). These Topics are found here at the new youth learning website where the instruction centers around basic gospel principles. This new curriculum follows the mutual theme for 2013 Stand ye in holy places and not be moved.
With the new curriculum for Priesthood, Relief Society, Youth, and the available resources, the Church is focusing more on helping members gain a greater understanding of the principle teachings of the Gospel and then motivate to become member missionaries to share the gospel to those around us, serve our communities effectively, draw closer to our Heavenly Father, and gain significant and deeper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The uniqueness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stems from the outgrowth of the humble beginnings of a young farm boy in 19th century America and has now encompassed the globe with the message that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God whom we must come unto and strive to live out the very example that He himself lived during his mortal life. We all are pioneers in our homes, our communities, and in our countries. Through the Gospel that has been restored in these last days, let us have the faith, strength and courage to go out and stand in holy places and not be moved as we share the simple message of the Restoration – Jesus is the Christ and that this is His Church he has restored to help bring men unto Him before His second coming.