Primary (LDS Church)

The official seal of the Primary adopted in 1940
Formation 11 August 1878
Type Non-profit
Purpose Religious instruction; personal standards and development; child/family support
Headquarters Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
1.1 million children aged 3–11[1]
General President
Joy D. Jones
Main organ
General presidency and general board
Parent organization
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Affiliations Members join the Young Men or Young Women at age 12

The Primary (formerly the Primary Association) is a children's organization and an official auxiliary within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It acts as a Sunday school organization for the church's children under the age of 12.

Purpose, objectives, and theme

The official purpose of Primary is to help parents in teaching their children to learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.[2] The official objectives of Primary are to:

The Primary theme is "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children".[2][3]


Primary was first organized in 1878 by Aurelia Spencer Rogers in Farmington, Utah, and adopted church-wide in 1880 under the direction of Louie B. Felt, who served as the president of the organization through 1925. Rogers was concerned because younger Latter-day Saint children had too much unsupervised time due to the long hours that fathers and older sons kept on the farms and mothers and older daughters in the home. In particular, Rogers felt that the younger boys in the community were becoming unruly and mischievous. With permission from church leaders and under the initial direction of General Relief Society President Eliza R. Snow, Rogers organized a Primary Association for her local Farmington congregation on August 11, 1878. Two weeks later, the first meeting was held on August 28, with 215 children in attendance. That day, boys were specifically taught not to steal fruit from orchards and girls were taught not to hang on wagons. In addition, they were given lessons on faith, manners, obedience, and other principles.

May Anderson, the second general president of the Primary Association from 1925 to 1939, initiated what became Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City (now part of Intermountain Healthcare). Anderson also helped establish kindergartens in Utah. In the 1970s, as a result of the Priesthood Correlation Program, the Primary Association was renamed "Primary".

Since 2017, Joy D. Jones has been the Primary General President, with Bonnie H. Cordon as First Counselor and Cristina B. Franco as Second Counselor.[4][5]

Chronology of the general presidency of the Primary

No. Dates General President First Counselor Second Counselor
1 1880–1925 Louie B. Felt Matilda M. Barratt (1880–88)
Lillie T. Freeze (1888–1905)
May Anderson (1905–25)
Clara C. M. Cannon (1880–95)
Josephine R. West (1896–1905)
Clara W. Beebe (1906–25)
2 1925–39 May Anderson Sadie Grant Pack (1925–29)
Isabelle S. Ross (1929–39)
Isabelle S. Ross (1925–29)
Edna Harker Thomas (1929–33)
Edith E. H. Lambert (1933–39)
3 1940–43 May Green Hinckley Adele C. Howells Janet M. Thompson (1940–42)
LaVern W. Parmley (1942–43)

4 1943–51 Adele C. Howells LaVern W. Parmley Dessie G. Boyle
5 1951–74 LaVern W. Parmley Arta M. Hale (1951–62)
Leone W. Doxey (1962–69)
Lucile C. Reading (1970)
Naomi W. Randall (1970–74)
Florence H. Richards (1951–53)
Leone W. Doxey (1953–62)
Eileen R. Dunyon (1962–63)
Lucile C. Reading (1963–70)
Florence R. Lane (1970–74)
6 1974–80 Naomi M. Shumway Sara B. Paulsen (1974–77)
Colleen B. Lemmon (1977–80)
Colleen B. Lemmon (1974–77)
Dorthea C. Murdock (1977–80)
7 1980–88 Dwan J. Young Virginia B. Cannon Michaelene P. Grassli
8 1988—94 Michaelene P. Grassli Betty Jo N. Jepsen Ruth B. Wright
9 1994–99 Patricia P. Pinegar Anne G. Wirthlin Susan L. Warner
10 1999–2005 Coleen K. Menlove Sydney S. Reynolds Gayle M. Clegg
11 2005–10 Cheryl C. Lant Margaret S. Lifferth Vicki F. Matsumori
12 2010–16 Rosemary M. Wixom Jean A. Stevens (2010–15)
Cheryl A. Esplin (2015–16)
Cheryl A. Esplin (2010–15)
Mary R. Durham (2015–16)
13 2016–present Joy D. Jones Jean B. Bingham (2016–17)
Bonnie H. Cordon
Bonnie H. Cordon (2016–17)
Cristina B. Franco

Class names

The names of the classes in Primary have varied over time. The following is a partial list of names that have been applied to different age groups in Primary. In January 2010, the names of the classes were changed to the age of children entering the class, i.e., 4-year olds are in the class CTR 4. Previously, names were indicative of the age children would turn the coming year, (4-year olds in CTR 5)

Age (on January 1) Present Class Name Past Class Names Used
18 mos. Nursery Rainbows
3-year-olds Sunbeams Moonbeams
4-year-olds CTR 4 Sunbeams
5-year-olds CTR 5 Stars
6-year-olds CTR 6 Rainbows
7-year-olds CTR 7 Zion’s Boys
Zion’s Girls
CTR Pilots
Top Pilots
8-year-olds Valiant 8 Zion’s Boys
Zion’s Girls
CTR Pilots
Top Pilots
Valiant 9
9-year-old girls Valiant 9 Larks
Home Builders
Merry Miss
Valiant 10
9-year-old boys Valiant 9 Hatchets
Trail Builders
Valiant 10
10-year-old girls Valiant 10 Bluebirds
Home Builders
Merry Miss
Valiant 11
10-year-old boys Valiant 10 Wagon Wheels
Trail Builders
Valiant 11
11-year-old girls Valiant 11 Bluebirds
Home Builders
Merry Miss
Valiant 12
11-year-old boys Valiant 11 Arrows
Trail Builders
Valiant 12
12-year-old girls See Young Women Seagulls
Home Builders
13-year-old girls See Young Women Seagulls
Home Builders

Primary in the church today

Presently, the worldwide Primary provides Sunday school and church-related activities to approximately 1.1 million Latter-day Saint children.[1] In most congregations, optional nursery care and supervision is available for children from 18 months to age 3. Classroom instruction begins for three-year-olds and continues to age 12, with classes grouped by age. At age 12, children begin to attend Sunday School and the Young Men or Young Women programs. The Primary has its own songbook, made up of original songs and hymns modified for children.

Where participants, classrooms or teachers are limited, multiple age-grouped classes may be taught together. In most congregations Primary classes are co-ed.

See also


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