'Eternal family' is theme for Primary in 2009
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The Church's 2009 Primary sharing time theme — "My Eternal Family" — provides a foundation on which the general Primary leaders hope children will someday build an eternal family.
"The family is foundational in the gospel and in our Heavenly Father's plan. It is central to everything. We are all a part of families, no matter what that family looks like," said Cheryl C. Lant, Primary general president.
Sister Lant and her counselors, Margaret S. Lifferth and Vicki F. Matsumori, told the Church News that they want children to understand this year that they have an important role in building an eternal family. Primary children can strengthen the families they have now, and prepare for their future families, they said.
This year's sharing time and the children's sacrament meeting presentation theme is based on the seventh paragraph of The Family, A Proclamation to the World: "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."
"Children are a big part of the family," said Sister Lant. "They are not ever too young to start to understand that applying the teachings of the gospel, the principles of the gospel, is going to make them happy. They are going to make their family life happier."
She said children need to know that they have a responsibility in their family. "It is the principles of the gospel and living those principles that are taught that help us look forward to an eternal family," she said.
Sister Lifferth said this isn't the first time the Primary made the family the focus on their yearly theme. She said there are some Primary leaders who are concerned about presenting the theme because there are children in their Primary whose parents have not been sealed in the temple or who come from a one-parent family.
"Family circumstances are so varied," said Sister Lifferth. "So we hope that they can give children a vision that this is something they can look forward to when they become a mother or a father."
Sister Matsumori said that when she was growing up her parents were not members of the Church. She understood that while she was not a member of an eternal family then, she could be some day. "I made a commitment then that I wanted to have an eternal family," she said. "So children, no matter their age, can still understand that concept and have that desire."
The theme comes at a time when the family is under attack in society, she said. "It is helpful to give children a good foundation doctrinally to focus on the family. They can be a big part in helping to strengthen their own families no matter what circumstances they are in."
Sister Lant said in Primary, children learn all the basic principles of the gospel. "Foundational for that is the Plan of Salvation, the Plan of Happiness. Central to that is the eternal family. It is just one of the most important things that children can understand."
Looking through the sharing time outline, which is available at lds.org or at Church Distribution Centers, Primary leaders will see that the monthly themes, songs, scriptures and principles build upon one another. "We really are building a foundation for the children. We lay the groundwork and then we build upon that throughout the whole year. We are building eternal families."
And this year, Primary music leaders have the opportunity to choose some of their Primary's favorite songs for the Primary program. "The program is just an opportunity for the children to teach their parents and members of the ward those things that they have learned throughout the year," she said.
The entire general Primary presidency hopes that ward Primary leaders will focus on the many scriptures found in the outline. "We really encourage our leaders to take children into the scriptures and to teach them from the scriptures, to let them feel the spirit of the words of the Lord directly," said Sister Lant.
In the end, she said, Primary leaders are really helping children feel the spirit as they learn principles of truth. "It lays in their hearts and their spirits. Their spirits connect to these ideas. … We just reconnect them to things they already know and love."