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10 successful Church programs that were discontinued (or changed)

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The Jacob Spori Building stood on the Ricks College campus, but was destroyed in a fire and subsequently rebuilt. (1988 photo via public domain.)

The Jacob Spori Building stood on the Ricks College campus, but was destroyed in a fire and subsequently rebuilt as Ricks College transitioned to become BYU-Idaho. (1988 photo via public domain)

On July 27, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that its “century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined” following the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to admit openly gay leaders in the program.

Whether the Church severs ties with BSA or remains in partnership with the organization, this is not the first time the Church has re-evaluated past practices. Many programs used by the Church in the past have been discontinued or changed. Here’s a short list of Church programs you may or may not remember.

1. Homemaking Meeting

The Relief Society organization’s weekday activities, then known as “Homemaking Meetings,” usually focused on homemaking and childrearing skills. But as the Church grew from a small number of people in the American West to a worldwide Church, Relief Society activities got a makeover.

Both the name and the focus of Homemaking Meetings changed on Jan. 1, 2000, when they became known as “Home, Family and Personal Enrichment” meetings. Since then, they have changed again to be called “additional Relief Society meetings” or simply “Relief Society meetings.” Though these meetings can certainly focus occasionally on teaching skills, they are also meant to uplift and inspire Relief Society sisters in all aspects of their lives.

2. Perpetual Emigration Fund

Before the Perpetual Education Fund (which helps LDS people around the world obtain needed education and skills to help them provide for themselves and their families), there was the Perpetual Emigration Fund. It was established in 1849 during the Mormon migration to Salt Lake City and discontinued in 1887.

The Perpetual Emigration Fund provided financial aid to LDS converts to help them get to Utah. Once established in their homes in the West, those who received funds were expected to repay the funds so other converts could make the same journey.

The Perpetual Education Fund and the Perpetual Emigration Fund are similar in structure, with beneficiaries of the program becoming the benefactors after they become self-sufficient. However, the Perpetual Emigration Fund was a corporation established separately from the Church, while the Perpetual Education Fund is not.

3. Ricks College

In June of 2000, the First Presidency and the Board of Trustees of Ricks College announced that Ricks College (a two-year, Church-owned junior college in Rexburg, Idaho) would become Brigham Young University-Idaho, a four-year institution.

The school began as Bannock Stake Academy in 1888 and became Ricks College in 1923. It was a four-year institution briefly from 1948 to 1956, but was a two-year institution from 1956 to 2000. Today, Brigham Young University-Idaho has over 18,000 students.

4. Gold and Green Balls

In the early to mid-1900s, the Mutual Improvement Association (yet another changed program, known today as the Young Men and Young Women organizations) frequently sponsored dances and dance training. Gold and Green Balls were annual social dances held in each ward and stake. They have been discontinued, though youth dances are still held, usually at the stake level, around the world.

5. Personal Ancestral File (PAF)

The computer program Personal Ancestral File was discontinued in 2013 in favor of the online-only family history tool FamilySearch Family Tree. The software was officially discontinued July 15 of that year and has not been available for download or support since that time.

6. Activities Committee

On November 12, 2010, the Church introduced new handbooks to standardize Church practices for a worldwide Church. Among those changes was the dissolution of the ward Activities Committee — which had previously been tasked with planning ward activities — in order to give the ward council responsibility for these gatherings.

However, wards and branches have the flexibility to introduce special callings based on need, so some wards (like singles wards, for example) may still have an activities committee to help plan frequent activities.

7. Church-sponsored fraternities and sororities

In 2011, Church-sponsored fraternities and sororities at the University of Utah and Utah State were officially discontinued, some of which had existed since the 1930s. The Church ended these programs in order to increase focus on young single adult wards and stakes.

8. Adoption Services through LDS Family Services

In June 2014, the LDS Church announced that LDS Family Services would no longer function as an adoption agency. It still provides counseling and support to LDS families, but those interested in adoption will no longer adopt directly through LDS Family Services.

The change was reportedly the result of a changing climate for adoption. When LDS Family Services began several decades ago, many more unwed mothers gave their children for adoption. Today, social stigmas regarding single parenthood are decreasing, and fewer birth mothers are choosing to give their children for adoption.

While the same-sex marriage movement led some Catholic agencies to stop doing adoptions, this was reportedly not the case for LDS Family Services. For many of the Catholic agencies, government funding was involved. No government funding has ever been accepted for LDS Family Services.

9. Training in the Salt Lake City Missionary Home

In 1925, a small building near Temple Square served as a dormitory for new missionaries where they received training prior to entering the mission field. Because there were fewer missionaries at the time, many of these missionaries met and were set apart by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during their time there.

In 1971, a building on North Temple Street became the Salt Lake Missionary Home, where English-speaking missionaries received some training before entering the field. Some missionaries who would speak another language were trained at a Language Training Mission (LTM) prior to entering the mission field.

Beginning in 1978, all missionaries entered the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC) before entering the mission field. Today, several more MTCs around the world have been established to accommodate a growing number of missionaries.

10. Church meetings held throughout the week

A report written at the time reads: “The consolidated meeting schedule reemphasizes personal and family responsibility for learning, living, and teaching the gospel. It also allows Church members more time for personal gospel study, service to others, and meaningful activities.”

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48 Responses to "10 successful Church programs that were discontinued (or changed)"

  1. Mark says:

    It seems to me most of these things took time away from the core mission of the church, whichis to teach us to love and serve God, our families, and our neighbors

  2. Slashby says:

    Don’t forget the change of missions to 18 months…that didn’t stick but it caused the same type of hype the change of mission ages caused a couple of years ago.

  3. JoAnna says:

    I remember Road Shows, too! So much fun!

  4. Delores says:

    There are others. My parents were part of M Men and Gleaners. In Primary, I was a “Merry Miss”. There was also a “Pursuit of Excellence” program. There have been a lot of changes over the years! 🙂

    • Andrea says:

      My sisters went through the Primary Merry Miss program. Before that, and the program I went through, were the classes Gaynotes, Firelights, and Merrihands (our Bishop called them “Happy Knuckles”). Before that there were Larks, Blue Birds, and Seagulls.

    • Lin Hamill says:

      When I was a child the names if the primary classes were Moonbeams, Sunbeams,Stars, Rainbows, Copilots, Top Pilots, Gaynotes, Firelights, Merrihands, Blazers, Trekkers and Guide Patrol. On Sunday we had Junior Sunday School, where children gave 2 1/2 minute talks and were served the sacrament, and Primary was on Tuesdays. We had an annual relief Society Bazaar and the sisters worked on projects all year to be ready for it. The Elders quorum had Dime-a-dip dinners twice per year, the cub scouts sold light bulbs and the Boy Scouts had ongoing paper drives. The church buildings had cry rooms that had a window that looked out on the chapel and sacrament meeting sound was piled in, for parents to take in noisy little ones. The Aaronic Priesthood took envelopes out to the members homes on fast Sunday to collect fast offerings. There’s lots of good things we used to that we don’t do anymore.

    • Kay Root says:

      I remember when the primary girls were Larks Bluebirds and Seagulls.

  5. Laurel Gallegos says:

    All church basketball tournament. My husband coached when we lived in Pueblo, Colorado and he and his partner took a team to this tournament in Salt Lake City 2 times.

    • Karen says:

      I remember playing soft ball and volleyball on Saturday afternoons for young women(we probably were not called that).

  6. Diane says:

    I love to knit and crochet. When people ask how I learned to make such beautiful things, I reply that I learned in Primary. Back in those days (the dark ages), the 9, 10, and 11 year old girls learned to knit, crochet, and embroider as part of our regular Primary lessons.

    The church has greatly changed their programs for young women over the years. I was a Beehive when we had “bandelos” and badges similar to Boy Scout merit badges.

    • Sherry says:

      Oh I loved the bandelos and the crochet and I also learned to set a proper table!

    • SunniDaze says:

      I remember that too. Although I didn’t get Baptised until I was 15 in 1967. The Church did change Young Women’s programs to broaden our skills and knowledge to be able to deal with what the future holds. Yes, programs change, but the Core, the Foundation of the Gospel does not change. But I sure loved Road Shows and oh, remember our Treasures of Truth Books??, I still have mine..LOL but now,I can’t remember the names to go with the pictures…Hey, I was young, only old people loose their memories…..So, kids, always remember to name and date your pictures. I am glad they still have Girls Camp and Youth Conference.

  7. Mikaele says:

    All-church sports tournaments.

  8. Sally says:

    I still have my Primary bandalo – the green sash with the badges!

  9. Mary Jo Anhalt says:

    When I was a teenager back in the fifties, regional music [in the Hollywod Bowl] and dance [in football stadiums such as the Rose Bowl] festivals were part of ‘June Conference.’ That was discontinued, probably- in my not-so-humble opinion – because the SoCal productions were far superior to those done in Utah!

    • Michele Blake says:

      I loved participating in Roadshows and Dance Festivals. We also had an awesome youth conference called SuperChallenge held on Catalina Island. Those were great memories.

    • Shelly says:

      I remember those big events at the rosebowl. I was so looking forward to my turn to participate and they cancelled it the year I turned 14 I was so disappointed!!!

    • VaLynne says:

      I am sure your right about why they dis continued the music and dance festivals. LOL. I am from Northern Arizona in my teen years but never got to participate in those festivals probably because I am a little younger than you as I was not a teen ager until the late 60’s through early 70’s but I do remember June Conference. My husband who is older doesn’t remember that. But then he remembers when 1 day of April Conference was always held on April 6th, I don’t remember that. It is like the “picture of an event” I may not remember the event but seeing the picture all the time I remember the picture. I see references to April 6th general conference in different years and not always was that date on a Saturday or Sunday.

  10. Don Gibb says:

    I lot more changes than listed including my list.

    1. Going to church twice on Sunday was a big change to the 3 hour block. The author mentioned the changes in activites during the week but you went in the morning and came back in the afternoon/evening on Sunday.

    2. Standard budgeting based on Sacrament Meeting attendance verses individual wards and stakes doing regular fundraising for budget and building new churches. Now fundraising is just for YM/YW summer activities.

    3, In the early 1990s s Sunday School had opening exercises with a hymn, prayer and thought.

    4. Roadshows around Utah use to be a big thing.

    5. Entire Mutual (YM/YW) summer trips to Lake Powell / Flaming George, etc. is to be the norm around Utah.

    6. Mission lengths and requirements have changes a few times.

    .

    • VaLynne says:

      Don Gibb,
      I remember these things to. And the fun part about some things you mentioned. We (Seminary and Mutual trips) used to go to Lake Powell and I was from Arizona. We were 80 miles from Page, AZ and would go to Glen Canyon Dam and then go swimming in Lake Powell.
      Now I live in Mountain View, Wyoming (When we go back home from our mission, that is. We are serving in Vanuatu Port Vila mission, the mission hit by the category 5+ SuperCyclone Pam) and many Utahans go through our home town to get to Flaming Gorge, (not George as you have LOL) Youth groups go to the Dam and to go swimming in the Gorge and we also go white water rafting below the dam.

  11. Rick says:

    I remember the Indian Placement Program… a program where mostly navajos were brought up to homes of members and went to schools off the reservation. Pres. Kimball did away with this program in the mid eighties…

    • Michele Blake says:

      Yes our family participated in the Indian Placement program. We loved Deloris, she lived with us for several years. She was a proud and beautiful Apache. It was tough to say goodbye to her.

    • VaLynne says:

      Rick and Cory Thatcher,
      I have mentioned in two other replies that I lived in Arizona during my teens. What I didn’t mention is that it was northern AZ on the Navajo Indian Reservation, in Kayenta. I had several friends, including a foster sister who lived with us in the summer and in Snowflake AZ on the Indian Placement Program during the school year. I honestly hadn’t head of the Indian Placement Program before moving to AZ from Oregon. My parents were school teachers and worked for the BIA when we lived in Kayenta.

  12. Cory Thatcher says:

    Does anyone remember the Indian placement program?

  13. Robert says:

    As a teenager in the fifties I think I recall a group called “special interest” . It was held in conjunction with Mutual, It was for single adults. Am I correct?

  14. Peter W Nolan says:

    I live in Australia and when my wife joined the church after our marriage, we lived in Tamworth, New South Wales. To help her learn Gospel Principals we both attended Adult Institute lessons each Tuesday evening, conducted by local member teachers who taught from Institute Manuals provided by the Church. We still miss those enjoyable learning programs.

  15. Patti Harvey says:

    Dance festivals! I was in one in 1985 or 86 at the Rose Bowl and it was a testimony builder for me for sure!

    Area conferences. With the advent of the satellite stake conferences, came the demise of the large area conferences.

    Know Your Religion. Firesides for adults on deeper religious topics.

  16. Linda says:

    The current YW Personal Progress program has gone through several changes over the years. There was also the change to the YW values when they added Virtue.

  17. Shelly says:

    In the HB Sourthern California stake we had Rose Prom where the fathers would present their 16 year old daughters. We dresses up in pretty formal dresses, walked across a beautifully decorated stage to the reading of a small
    bio by an MC and met our father on stage and then walked with him down off the stage. This was a pretty big deal. This was all done at a stake dance and the cultural hall was beautifully decorated. We also had the New Years tri-stake dances and my first one was held in our local mall where we had to have a ticket to get in and there were several different bands playing on stages in front of anchor stores. Youth conference consisted of a bus trip to BYU. Loved EFY and monthly stake firesides. I miss the adult firesides they may still have some in so. Cal but I am now in South Carolina and we hardly have stake activities, however we just combined with the 3 wards to have a common mutual night. A super idea.

    Thanks to everyone submitting their memories I have enjoyed reading the comments!
    God Bless Y’all! 😉

  18. Gail says:

    The 5 minute music period at the start of Relief Society was well received and many new hymns were discussed and taught. Now it seems that music is put on the back burner.

  19. Wendy says:

    Interesting article. I remember a lot of those programs but had forgotten about them.

    I was 19 when I was baptized in 1977, so I remember the “old schedule” when Priesthood was on Sunday morning, then there was Sunday school (with a Sacrament meeting), families would give a “presentation” on Fast Sunday and someone would say a “Sacrament Gem.” Then Sacrament would be in the evening, Primary one afternoon a week during the school year (was it held in summer?), RS Homemaking. I went to the Rose Prom, had so much fun! In 1980, when President Kimball announced the new meeting schedule, it seemed so confusing. Now I can’t imagine church any other way. That old meeting schedule made it difficult for families who lived miles away from a chapel. The only thing that didn’t seem to change were Youth Meetings. And wasn’t there a level in Primary called “Blazers?” When did they do away with that?

    Never participated in road shows, but loved watching them. Remember Adult Institute programs? I lived in areas where the church wasn’t as developed (most in the east), and my family couldn’t watch General Conference; we had to wait for Ensign. I was never able to hear “Music & the Spoken Word” because no local radio station in my area broadcast it. And we had to drive a long way to attend stake conference until satellite broadcasting became commonplace. And I was fortunate enough to be able to attend school using the Perpetual Education Fund & contribute every time I pay my tithing.

    Yet we now live in a day and age when I can access almost any “LDS” thing I want–music, videos, publications, ward/stake rosters, etc.–on my cell phone. And if I want to catch some classes from Education Week or Book of Mormon Discussions, I just access BYU TV on my computer and watch at leisure. It’s simply amazing to me. If anyone had told me when I joined the church that one day we’d be able to have “practically the whole church on the phone,” I wouldn’t have believed it. But I’m so glad it is!

  20. Flossie says:

    As a very young mother I was secretary in the Relief Society and remembered that we used to raise the money to fund that organization. We paid dues and had fund raisers. I especially remember the bazaars where everyone made quilts, all kinds of handwork and baked goods to donate. Thanks for bringing back all those warm memories.

    • Joni says:

      My daughter participated in Dance Festival in the Rose Bowl in the 70’s and was one of the highlights of her life. We lived in Monrovia. Roadshows were great also. However I think that is the Treks and EFY give greater spiritual growth.

  21. Denise says:

    As a teenager living in the uk I remember being called as the Junior Sunday School pianist.
    The children had their own sacrament during Sunday School. I also remember giving 2 1/2 minute talks during Sunday School opening exercises, and having hymn practices.
    I have fond memories of catching a coach to take our “branch” to district conference 4 times a year. We would sing hymns all the way.
    Does anyone remember the “speech festivals”? Not my favourite thing. I enjoyed the sports events more. I loved dressing up for the Gold & Green Balls. Such happy memories!

  22. Kirby says:

    I remember the blazer, targeteer and bombardier classes in Sunday School. I remember working on my targeteer flag

  23. Carolyn says:

    In the early 1950’s our ward was raising money for our new building, and we held a very expensive (for the time) dinner — $20 a plate. But — many raffle prized were donated, one of which was a brand new Dodge, compliments of a brother in the ward who ran a car dealership. They displayed the car up on the stage (don’t ask me how they got it up there). I remember our family winning a potted plant.

    The Relief Society held bazaars where they raised money for various programs. Lots of sewing and quilting went into these events. Because money was being raised on the premises, the tax exempt status of the Church was apparently in danger, and these fund raisers were stopped.

  24. Bob says:

    I joined the church in 1967 in Western Australia and I remember we had church magazines before the Ensign, etc – I think it was the Instructor and I remember it included advertising of various products one of which was Coca Cola, always a wonder to me at the time. We had Young married events in which married members getting together for nights out.
    We stopped scouting here many years ago when it became a requirement that young men and young women go on camps together as scouts. Scouting was wonderful in providing training for young men leaders in planning and organizing events.

  25. Karen says:

    Education week was for years something to look forward to.

  26. Grant nicholas says:

    Social dancing is basically dead. The youth like the new music much of which isn’t danceable. When they get older they haven’t really learned to dance so why have a gold and green ball. I remember having dance instruction as part of mutual. If you want young men to dance you have to teach them when before they reach 14. After that they are too self conscious. Plus if the parents can’t dance how can they teach their kids

    • Marjanna says:

      I agree that social dancing has all but died out. I’ve been appalled when I go to the stake dances–nobody knows what to do! But I do NOT think that today’s music isn’t danceable. And I’ve had great luck teaching boys 16 and up how to dance–because the GIRLS want to dance and the boys don’t know how. So I hold free workshops–during the winter, an hour before the stake dance starts–to teach the basics of how to lead, how to follow, and how to ask.

  27. Lorrie says:

    I loved The Relief Society Magazine. It had all the monthly lessons, recipes, patterns, stories, etc. It was wonderful & I still enjoy reading in them.

  28. Carrol Gunnell says:

    Quarterly Stake Conference

  29. Dennis Rorie says:

    All Church basketball and solfball in Salt Lake. These were great for teaching the gospel to non-members.

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