New LDS curriculum a positive change, some members say

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Talia Pehrson prepares her Relief Society lesson using the October 2017 General Conference edition of the Ensign. One major change in the new LDS Church curriculum eliminated lesson manuals, replacing them with less structured lessons based on recent General Conference talks. (Danielle Jardine)

Two months have passed since the LDS Church initiated a new curriculum for its Relief Society and Priesthood meetings and, according to many ward teachers and leaders, the change is an overall positive one.

The new adult curriculum is patterned after the “Come Follow Me” curriculum implemented for the church’s youth in 2013. Like the “Come Follow Me” curriculum, meetings no longer have organized manuals. Instead, instruction and teaching comes from recent General Conference talks. In addition, the first Sunday of each month is dedicated for members to counsel together to meet the ward’s needs.

Peter Fullmer, an Elders Quorum instructor in his BYU student ward, said the change has been challenging, but worthwhile.

“As a teacher, it’s a bit more difficult to prepare for lessons, just because there’s not nearly so much of a guideline,” Fullmer said. “But I think it’s also very beneficial because students get what they need particularly for them, and it’s not so closed off.”

Fullmer said the new curriculum has given students more opportunities to participate in lessons.

“I’ve noticed a lot more people (participating) — not just the same three or four people but a lot more people are commenting and giving their opinions and ideas,” Fullmer said.

Talia Pehrson, Relief Society president of the Provo Married Student 21st Ward, said the new curriculum has strengthened her ward internally in just two months.

“I can see how it’s helped us a lot, especially in the ways of meeting the sisters’ needs,” Pehrson said. “It’s really cool to see someone raise their hand, give an opinion and then tons of sisters start talking about that same thing. And you just realize we’re all going through the same things, and we all need each other to strengthen us during their hard times. There’s been a lot more unity because of it.”

However, the adjustment hasn’t been easy for everyone. Tom Morris, bishop of the Provo Canyon Ward, has noticed difficulties, especially among the older members of his ward.

“In our ward — and our ward is probably a little more mature — I think there’s a little bit of pushing uphill to get people to realize that we’re not just going to have a teacher and someone presenting a lesson anymore,” Morris said.

Despite the growing pains, Morris said the adjustment has become easier for his ward the longer the system has been in place. He added he has seen good results come from the curriculum change, including increased unity within his ward, especially with adults finding ways to serve and connect with the youth in the ward.

Morris said he has seen a great deal of good come from the change and expects to see more in the future.

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