Young Women (organization)
|Formation||18 November 1869|
|Purpose||religious instruction; personal standards and development; adolescent female support|
|Headquarters||Salt Lake City, Utah, USA|
|1 million+ young women aged 12–18|
|Bonnie L. Oscarson|
|General presidency and general board|
|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints|
|Affiliations||Young Men; members join Relief Society at age 18|
The Young Women (often referred to as Young Women's or Young Woman's) is a youth organization and an official auxiliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The purpose of the Young Women organization is to help each young woman "be worthy to make and keep sacred covenants and receive the ordinances of the temple."
The first official youth association of the church—the Young Gentlemen’s and Young Ladies' Relief Society—was formally organized by Nauvoo, Illinois, youth on the advice of church founder Joseph Smith in March 1843. The group had held several informal meetings since late January of that year under the supervision of apostle Heber C. Kimball. The Young Women organization of the church was founded by LDS Church president Brigham Young in 1869 as the Young Ladies' Department of the Cooperative Retrenchment Association. At the organization's founding, Young set out his vision for the young women of the church:
I desire them to retrench from extravagance in dress, in eating and even in speech. The time has come when the sisters must agree ... to set an example worthy of imitation before the people of the world .... There is need for the young daughters of Israel to get a living testimony of the truth .... We are about to organize a retrenchment Association, which I want you all to join, and I want you to vote to retrench in ... everything that is not good and beautiful, not to make yourselves unhappy, but to live so you may be truly happy in this life and in the life to come.
From 1869 to 1880, the new Young Women organization functioned at the local ward level, without a general presidency. In 1871, the organization was renamed the Young Ladies' Retrenchment Association, or YL for short. In 1877, the organization's name was again changed to the Young Ladies' National Mutual Improvement Association (abbreviated YLNMIA) as a companion organization to the church's Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association, which had been founded in 1875.
On June 19, 1880, the first general presidency of the YLNMIA with church-wide authority was organized under the direction of LDS Church president John Taylor, with Elmina Shepard Taylor as the first general president. In 1904, the name of the YLNMIA was shorted to the Young Ladies' Mutual Improvement Association (abbreviated YLMIA) and in 1934 it was changed to the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association, or YWMIA.
In 1972, the YWMIA and the YMMIA were combined into a new organization called Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Women. This organization was short-lived, however, and the Young Women organization was separated from the Young Men organization and given its current name in 1974.
Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Women was the name of an official auxiliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between 1972 and 1974. It was formed by consolidating the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association and the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association into one organization. Leadership of the auxiliary was shared between the presiding bishopric and the general presidency of the Young Women. The combined organization was short-lived, and in 1974 the organization was again divided into the renamed Young Men and the Young Women.
Chronology of the general presidency of the Young Women
|No.||Dates||General President||First Counselor||Second Counselor|
|1||1880–1904||Elmina Shepard Taylor||Margaret Young Taylor (1880–87)
Maria Young Dougall (1887–1904)
|Martha H. Tingey|
|2||1905–29||Martha H. Tingey||Ruth May Fox||Mae Taylor Nystrom (1905–23)|
Lucy Grant Cannon (1923–29)
|3||1929–37||Ruth May Fox||Lucy Grant Cannon||Clarissa A. Beesley|
|4||1937–48||Lucy Grant Cannon||Helen S. Williams (1937–44)
Verna W. Goddard (1944–48)
|Verna W. Goddard (1937–44)|
Lucy T. Andersen (1944–48)
|5||1948–61||Bertha S. Reeder||Emily H. Bennett||LaRue C. Longden|
|6||1961–72||Florence S. Jacobsen||Margaret R. J. Judd||Dorothy P. Holt|
|7||1972–78||Ruth H. Funk||Hortense H. C. Smith||Ardeth G. Kapp|
|8||1978–84||Elaine A. Cannon||Arlene B. Darger||Norma B. Smith|
|9||1984–92||Ardeth G. Kapp||Patricia T. Holland (1984–86)
Maurine J. Turley (1986–87)
Jayne B. Malan (1987–92)
|Maurine J. Turley (1984–86)|
Jayne B. Malan (1986–87)
Elaine L. Jack (1987–90)
Janette C. Hales (1990–92)
|10||1992–97||Janette C. Hales
(name changed to Janette Hales Beckham in 1995)
|Virginia H. Pearce||Patricia P. Pinegar (1992–94)|
Bonnie D. Parkin (1994–97)
Carol B. Thomas (1997)
|11||1997–2002||Margaret D. Nadauld||Carol B. Thomas||Sharon G. Larsen|
|12||2002–08||Susan W. Tanner||Julie B. Beck (2002–07)
Elaine S. Dalton (2007–08)
|Elaine S. Dalton (2002–07)|
Mary N. Cook (2007–08)
|13||2008–13||Elaine S. Dalton||Mary N. Cook||Ann M. Dibb|
|14||2013–18||Bonnie L. Oscarson||Carol F. McConkie||Neill F. Marriott|
|15||2018-present||Bonnie H. Cordon||Michelle D. Craig||Becky Craven|
In the church today
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In each local congregation of the LDS Church, all females ages 12 to 17 are members of the Young Women. The organization is headed in each congregation by an adult woman who holds the position of Young Women President. The president is assisted by two counselors, who are also adult women. The presidency may also ask an adult woman to be the secretary to the presidency.
In most congregations, the young women are sub-divided into three aged-based classes which were given official nicknames by the church in the 1950s. These nicknames may be used to refer to the class as a whole, or to the members of it; for example, a 13-year-old Latter-day Saint female may be referred to as "a Beehive", and she may be said to attend the "Beehive class" or "Beehives". When a young woman reaches the age of 18, she is normally encouraged to join the Relief Society, the women's organization of the LDS Church. In certain instances, such as when a young woman turns 18 but is still in secondary school, an 18-year-old-may continue to attend the Young Women Laurel class for several months.
A Beehive is a 12–13 year old participant in the Young Women organization. The name beehive was first used in the LDS Church's organization for young women in 1913, when a "Beehive Girls" program was organized. In 1920, the YLMIA operated the Beehive House, one of the former residences of Brigham Young, as a dormitory for young girls. In 1943, the beehive was adopted as the class symbol for the youngest class of young women in the church. In 1950, the youngest class was officially given the name of Beehives. The symbol of the Beehives is a stylized beehive. The Beehive purpose statement is:
For the early pioneers of the Church, the beehive was a symbol of harmony, cooperation, and work. When the young women of the Church were first organized as a group, they were known as Beehives. As a member of a Beehive class today, a young woman strengthens her faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and learns to work with others in harmony and cooperation. This is a time for her to stand for truth and righteousness and "arise and shine forth" (D&C 115:5).
The adult second counselor in the Young Women presidency assists the Beehive class.
A Mia Maid (pronounced MY-ah) is a 14- to 15-year-old participant in the Young Women organization. The term derives from a former name of the church's program for young women, which was the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association, or YWMIA. The name was first adopted and applied to the middle age group of the YWMIA in 1950. The symbol of the Mia Maids is a rose. The purpose statement of the Mia Maids is:
The term Mia refers to the Mutual Improvement Association (MIA), which was once the name of the youth program in the Church. The word Maid means young woman. The Mutual Improvement Association adopted the rose as an emblem of their organization, and that emblem continues with Mia Maids today as a symbol of love, faith, and purity. As a member of a Mia Maid class today, a young woman strengthens her testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, accepts and acts upon the Young Women values, and learns about love, faith, and purity.
The adult first counselor in the Young Women presidency assists the Mia Maid class.
A Laurel is a 16- to 17-year-old participant in the Young Women organization. In 1950, the name Junior Gleaners was applied to the class; it was changed to Laurels in 1959. The symbol of the Laurels is a laurel wreath. The purpose statement of the Laurels is:
For centuries, the leaves of the laurel tree have symbolized honor and accomplishment, especially when woven into a crown. As a member of a Laurel class today, a young woman prepares to make and keep sacred covenants and receive the ordinances of the temple.
The adult Young Women President assists the Laurel class.
Generally, during Sunday meetings, all the Young Women meet together for a brief opening prayer and hymn. Then each age group will hold a separate class for instruction. Each class has a class president drawn from the members of the class, who in turn may choose two counselors and a secretary to assist her.
Young men and young women also typically have a regularly scheduled activity, called Mutual. The term "Mutual" is meant to suggest shared experiences in which there is mutual respect and support for one another. Mutual is held on a day or an evening other than Sunday or Monday and usually lasts 60 to 90 minutes. It is generally held once a week but may be held less frequently if leaders determine that travel, resources, or other significant circumstances prevent a weekly meeting.
Local church Young Women organizations are supervised by a stake Young Women presidency, composed of three adult women. The stake Young Women presidency will be assisted in their duties by a member of the stake high council and supervised by a member of the stake presidency.
Stake and ward Young Women organizations are supervised by the Young Women General Presidency. From 1994 to 2013, an annual General Young Women Meeting was held in March, where typically the Young Women general presidency and a member of the church's First Presidency would speak to the young women, their mothers, and the adult Young Women leaders. The meeting was broadcast via satellite to LDS Church meetinghouses throughout the world. The proceedings of the meeting were published in the May issues of the Liahona and Ensign magazines. Video and audio of the proceedings are archived and available for downloading on the church's website. In 2014, the meeting was replaced by a semiannual general women's meeting for those eight years of age and older.
Motto, theme, and values
The motto of the Young Women is "Stand for Truth and Righteousness".
The Young Women theme is:
We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values, we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.
The church advises that young women and their leaders repeat the theme during Sunday opening exercises and at other Young Women gatherings.
Each "value" mentioned in the theme is assigned a color to help in remembering the meaning and purpose of the values. The colors are used in decorating for Young Women events. The values with their colors, scriptures, and meanings are as follows:
- Faith (white) (Alma 32:21): I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, who loves me. I will have faith in His eternal plan, which centers in Jesus Christ, my Savior.
- Divine Nature (blue) (2 Peter 1:4–7): I have inherited divine qualities which I will strive to develop.
- Individual Worth (red) (D&C 18:10): I am of infinite worth with my own divine mission, which I will strive to fulfill.
- Knowledge (green) (D&C 88:118): I will continually seek opportunities for learning and growth.
- Choice and Accountability (orange) (Joshua 24:15): I will remain free by choosing good over evil and will accept responsibility for my choices.
- Good Works (yellow) (3 Nephi 12:16): I will nurture others and build the kingdom through righteous service.
- Integrity (purple) (Job 27:5): I will have the moral courage to make my actions consistent with my knowledge of right and wrong.
- Virtue (gold) (Proverbs 31:10): I will prepare to enter the temple and remain pure and worthy.
In December 2008, the eighth value, "virtue" (gold), was added to the list.
All participants in Young Women are encouraged to participate in the organization's Personal Progress program. Personal Progress is a goal-setting and achievement program, the stated purpose of which is to help each young woman:
- Know she is a daughter of God;
- rely upon the Holy Ghost;
- develop personal religious behaviors, such as prayer, scripture study, obedience to commandments, and service;
- keep her baptismal covenants and prepare and qualify for temple covenants;
- develop talents and skills that prepare her for her future roles; and
- establish a pattern of step-by-step progress through her life.
In addition to Sunday meetings and Mutual, most local organizations also organize an annual Young Women Camp. Young Women Camps may be held at the ward or the stake level.
- Anticipatory socialization
- The Contributor
- Young Woman's Journal
- Improvement Era
- New Era (magazine)
- Worship services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- June Conference
- In 1990, membership reached 1 million: Elaine A. Cannon, "Young Women", Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 4.
- "Young Women", Handbook 2: Administering the Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 2010).
- "A Short Sketch of the Rise of the Young Gentlemen and Ladies Relief Society of Nauvoo," Times and Seasons 4 (1 April 1843): 154–57.
- Quoted in Janet Peterson and LaRene Gaunt (1993), Keepers of the Flame: Presidents of the Young Women (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book) p. xi.
- "First Presidency Announces New General Women's Meeting"., lds.org, 4 November 2013.
- "'Virtue' added to Young Women theme", Church News, 2008-12-10.
- Janet Peterson and LaRene Gaunt, Keepers of the Flame: Presidents of the Young Women (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1993).
- "Presidents of the Young Women Organization Through the Years", Ensign, June 2008.
- Brown, Victor L. (April 1973), "The Aaronic Priesthood MIA", General Conference.
- Peterson, Janet (2011), "Young Women of Zion: An Organizational History", in David J. Whittaker; Arnold K. Garr, A Firm Foundation: Church Organization and Administration, Religious Studies Center, Deseret Book, pp. 277–94, ISBN 978-0-8425-2785-9.
- Official website for adult leaders in Young Women
- History of the organization from 1869 to 1910 (PDF scans of 1911 book)
- Purpose of LDS Youth Activities and Mutual: includes a description of the purposes of the LDS mutual program and leader responsibilities
- Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association Papers. MSS 1765; Papers; 20th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.