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What is Mutual?

Mormon Teenagers
Mutual is the former term members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints used to describe a weeknight activity sponsored by the Church for teenagers. Mutual got its name because it was supposed to encourage “shared experiences in which there is mutual respect and support for one another” (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders [1998], 187 emphasis added). During the October 2019 General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook announced adjustments to the Young Women and Young Men programs, which included retirement of the word “Mutual.” In its place, “Young Women activities,” “Aaronic Priesthood quorum activities,” or “youth activities,” will be held weekly where possible.[1]

What did Mutual consist of?

Mutual was held in the evening on any day except Sunday or Monday. Typically mutuals lasted about an hour and a half and was on the same night each week at the same time. Its purpose was to provide a setting where young men and young women can learn and practice gospel principles, prepare themselves for the future, build friendships with their peers including those less active in the Church, provide service for others, and have fun in a wholesome environment. Leaders were asked to make sure that the activities are age appropriate and fulfill the purpose of Mutual.

Mutual started each time with opening exercises. These lasted for about 10-15 minutes and the different presidencies in Young Men and Young Women took turns conducting. Mutual opened with a hymn followed by a prayer. It could also include short talks, musical numbers, and other appropriate activities such as youth choir practice and short announcements.

Class activities were held for about 30-70 minutes and could include learning new skills, providing service, or working on requirements for Church programs such as Duty to God and Personal Progress. Social activities were optional but could follow class activities and could be up to thirty minutes long. Activities involving both the young women and the young men (often referred to as a combined activity) were held usually once a month.

The Church provided annual themes that focused on different areas of developments such as service, music, sports, and others. These themes were supposed to help leaders plan events for the year.

Elder Robert D. Hales explained the importance of the Mutual program,

Some of the great blessings of these programs that have been developed are that as the youth of the Church, you will have a clear understanding of who you are, you will be accountable for your actions, you will take responsibility for the conduct of your life, and you will be able to set goals so that you might achieve what you were sent to earth to achieve (“Fulfilling Our Duty to God,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 38).

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