Priesthood Correlation Program

From Academic Kids

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Priesthood Correlation Program (also called the Correlation Program or simply Correlation) is a program designed to provide a systematic approach to give consistency to the the ordinances, doctrines, organizations, meetings, materials, and other programs and activities of the LDS Church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized according to Priesthood function, and correlation provides support to the priesthood quorums with the objective of effective governance, and keeping unorthodox information, doctrines and other undesired concepts from being introduced into the church.

Contents

Background and history

In the LDS Church, all organizations and activities are designed to complement the mission of the church and mission of the Priesthood quorum, and are considered "auxiliary" to the priesthood, helping in completing its responsibilites.

Before the Correlation movement, the various organizations of the church, including the Relief Society, the Primary Association, Deseret Sunday School, Welfare, Genealogy programs and the Young Men's and Young Women's organizations were largely under the direction of the stake or ward, and curriculum taught could vary from ward to ward. As part of the Correlation program, these organizations were elevated to a general church level, under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Formalization of a correlation committee occurred in 1908 and was the committee took its current form in the early 1960s, responsible for all printed materials and programs.

Doctrines and structure

Between the 1920s and early 1960s, there was an increase in printed material available to LDS Church members, much of which contained opinions or quotes of church leaders that were not official views of the church. In addition, historical documents surfaced, were made available or were printed from early church members diaries, and some of the doctrines and opinions contained therein were unverified, questionable, proven incorrect or were supported. In short, because of a sudden influx of information, church members began to preach opinions as doctrines rather than official views of the church. Examples include: the sudden interest in the Adam-God theory and Blood Atonement in the late 1950s, the teaching that Sons of perdition may have a second chance for redemption in another life in the 1960s, statements about the evolution of humans, outer darkness, the weight of a spirit, whether or not there were men on the moon, reincarnation, availabilty of priesthood to women, creating worlds and other Common Latter-day Saint perceptions.

To counter this, the correlation committee under the direction of the First Presidency, began to print materials and other curriculum to clarify and state what official doctrines of the church are. Some within the church believe that since the 1960s the church as "watered down" doctrine, however, the printed material now more accurately reflects long-standing church positions on many topics and doctrines. Unverified statements from journals such as "I heard Brother Webb say Brother Brigham said" are no longer considered completely accurate unless verifed from multiple sources. Journals are occasionally still used, but statements within them are now compared against multiple sources.

Another result is the "block program". Prior to the 1980s, LDS Church meetings were held throughout the week and also on Sunday. At each meeting on Sunday, the sacrament was blessed and passed to members. For example, in a local ward, the Relief Society may meet on Monday mornings, Family Home Evening on Monday Nights, Primary and Choir practice on Tuesday afternoons, Scouts and board meetings on Wednesdays, Young Women and Young Men on Thursdays, Ward activities and events on Fridays (and campouts for the Scouts), Ward building maintenance and service projects on Saturday, and Sunday priesthood meeting at 7:00 a.m., Sunday School at 10:00 a.m. or Noon, and Sacrament meeting at 2:00. Firesides and testimony meetings would occur at 6:00 p.m. (or on Thursay nights when accompanied with a monthly "fast day") Deacons Teachers and Priests would be responsible for the administration of the Sacrament at sunday school, primary, and other meetings. Because of the church's focus on families, the correlation committee recommended a three hour "block" of meetings on Sundays that would include sacrament meeting, sunday school, priesthood, relief society and primary. YM/YW MIA would still be held during the week, and once a month "Homemaking" (now renamed) meetings for the Relief Society. This allows families to spend more time together, and for parents and children to be more involved with their communities.

In addition, due to a more centralized structure, local building funds and "ward budgets" were centralized by the church, easing the contributions of local members for such funds, and allowing for a more equitable distribution of funds throughout the church (prior to this, wealthier areas had better buildings, bigger-cost activities, etc. than struggling areas).

Results and curriculum

Because of the correlation program, the church appears the same in structure, practice and doctrines globally. For example, LDS Church members in Germany, Kenya and Utah should all be studying the same lesson in the same meeting on any given week (aside from allowances for conferences), attend the same type of meetings (Sacrament meeting, Sunday School (Mormonism) and Priesthood Quorum meetings wherever they are in the world.

Currently there are two curriculum tracks for church members — one for areas where the church is fully established in Wards and Stakes, and another for areas where the church is growing and in small numbers. The doctrines taught are the same, however, the emphasis on principles, church structure and church culture is more emphasized in fledgling areas, while emphsis in established areas focuses more on application of the principles taught.

Feminism, criticism and other effects

Feminist critics of the LDS Church such as Maxine Hanks believe Priesthood Correlation diminished women's role in the church. She publicly taught that correlation took organizations such as the Primary and Relief Society out of the control of women and placed them under full control of local male clergy, usually a ward Bishop or Branch President. Hanks was later excommunicated from the LDS Church.

Some scholars have suggested that the block program and centralized budgets has negatively affected church members, by requiring less sacrifice, and therefore causing reduced adherence and tepidity of testimony in the church. They believe that because less is required of LDS Church members, they are no longer required to have "strong testimonies" to participate weekly, and are less engaged or "active". Some statistics suggest that activity rates have increased due to the block program, however, spirituality and focus on the family may have decreased, resulting in the rise of "cultural Mormons", whose children often leave the church.

Adherent statistics also suggest that the rate of people "leaving" the church has historically remained constant, and recent media outlets, such as the internet, have provided for this vocal minority to seem much larger than it is. While that number declined after the block program was announced, recent increases in people leaving the LDS Church may be attributable to wider availability of information on how to have names removed, and "cultural" Mormons who would have left the church differently (gone into "inactivity" rather than asked for names to be removed) prior to the block program, and their children leaving, who would have likely never been baptized previously. If this is true, it is likely that the historical 5 percent of members who have left the church could have doubled to as high as ten percent of members leaving the LDS Church at some point during their life.

Many popular "Mormon doctrines" promoted by church members prior to correlation are still promulgated by members today, although they have been clarified by Correlation and church leaders. This includes what it means to be "a god" or "like god", the use of caffeine and other Mormon folklore such as "three Nephite stories" and Patriarchal blessing myths.

See also

External link

References

Latter-Day Saint Social Life: Social Research on the LDS Church and Its Members, edited by James Duke, ISBN: 1570083967

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