Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday, July 19, 2019 that stakes in the United States and Canada will sponsor biennial conferences modeled after Brigham Young University’s Especially for Youth (EFY) program. These conferences have been in operation for more than 40 years. Beginning in 2020, some 292 stakes will begin holding “For the Strength of Youth” (FSY) conferences as part of the Church’s efforts to unify its programs for children and youth around the world.
FSY conferences have been held outside the United States and Canada for more than a decade. According to the July 19 Church notice sent to regional, stake, ward, and branch leaders, these FSY conferences “have proven to be a strength to youth and also to the young single adults who serve as counsellors.”
What Is FSY and Why Is It Being Implemented in the U.S. and Canada?
The FSY conferences bring together large groups of youth (around 500) to participate in a five-day series of devotionals, classes, and activities designed to help build and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ. The conferences also provide opportunities for youth to grow spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, according to the information sent to Church leaders.
FSY conferences are directed by young single adults who are called as counsellors to serve with the youth. This means that adult leaders do not attend FSY conferences with the youth from their wards and stakes.
As the conferences are implemented, youth in the United States and Canada will be eligible to attend FSY every other year between the year when they turn 14 and the year they graduate from high school.
According to the July 19 Church notice, young men and young women from the 292 pre-selected stakes from throughout the United States and Canada will be invited to participate in a small number of FSY conferences in 2020. Then, beginning in 2021 and 2022, all stakes in the United States and Canada will be invited to participate in FSY conferences every other year as they are fully implemented.
The pre-selected stakes for 2020 have been asked not to plan treks or other youth conferences to be held during the year—although Young Women and Young Men camps are encouraged to be held as usual.
Additionally, BYU will be available to offer administrative support and training for local congregations participating in the expanded program throughout the United States and Canada. The Church’s area leaders outside of the two countries will continue holding FSY conferences as they have in the past.
2020 Children and Youth Program
The FSY announcement came on the heels of a notice sent to Church leaders earlier on July 15, which outlined the timeline and process for rolling out the new Children and Youth program slated to replace current youth programs—including Scouting, Personal Progress, Duty to God, and Faith in God—beginning in January 2020.
Guidebooks for parents entitled Children and Youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are available to leaders online now. They outline the new Children and Youth program. These guidebooks will be available to members in September 2019.
The new Children and Youth program—including the announcement for the implementation of FSY conferences in the United States and Canada—offers members a first look at the Church’s efforts to align programs for youth and children with the home-centered, Church-supported initiatives that have been the driving force behind curriculum and organizational changes over the last year and a half.
“The principles taught in this effort for children and youth represent a higher, holier way to encourage the rising generation to follow Jesus Christ and apply His gospel in all areas of their lives,” wrote the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a statement included in the introduction of a new guidebook for Children and Youth program. “This major effort will include gospel learning, the privilege of service, personal development, and exciting activities.”
Upcoming Special Broadcast and Face to Face Event
In September, a special broadcast by President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, will be made available for stakes and wards to introduce the details of the new program in two meetings—one for adults and one for children and youth.
Additionally, a special Face to Face Event for Children and Youth with Elder Gerritt W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve will be held on November 17 and will be broadcast in 18 languages around the world. During this event, more details will also be released about the FSY program.