Primary (LDS Church)
The official seal of the Primary adopted in 1940
|Formation||11 August 1878|
|Purpose||Religious instruction; personal standards and development; child/family support|
|Headquarters||Salt Lake City, Utah, United States|
|1.1 million children aged 3–11|
|Joy D. Jones|
|General presidency and general board|
|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
- Teach children that they are children of God and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them;
- help children learn to love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ;
- help children prepare to be baptized, to receive the Holy Ghost, and to keep their baptismal covenants;
- help children grow in their understanding of the gospel plan and provide opportunities for them to live gospel principles;
- help boys prepare to receive the priesthood and be worthy to use this power to bless and serve others; and
- help girls prepare to be righteous young women, understand the blessings of the priesthood and the temple, and serve others.
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.
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
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|
|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 |
|8-year-olds||Valiant 8||Zion’s Boys |
|9-year-old girls||Valiant 9||Larks|
|9-year-old boys||Valiant 9||Hatchets|
|10-year-old girls||Valiant 10||Bluebirds|
|10-year-old boys||Valiant 10||Wagon Wheels|
|11-year-old girls||Valiant 11||Bluebirds|
|11-year-old boys||Valiant 11||Arrows|
|12-year-old girls||See Young Women||Seagulls|
|13-year-old girls||See Young Women||Seagulls|
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. 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.
- Tad Walsh, "Preparing to split up, LDS General Primary Presidency looks back on 5 years of service together", Deseret News, March 27, 2015.
- "Primary", Handbook 2: Administering the Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 2010) § 11.1.
- 3 Nephi 22:13; see also Isaiah 54:13.
- "First Presidency Announces New Relief Society General Presidency: New member of Primary General Presidency also called", Newsroom, LDS Church, 2017-04-01
- First Presidency Announces New Primary General Presidency, mormonnewsroom.org, 2 April 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.