Thursday, May 13, 2010

Remember Utah Governor Olene Walker? She's Now An LDS Primary President In St. George, Utah

Former Utah Governor Olene Walker, who served as the state's 15th governor and the only woman to have ever held the post so far, has a humbler but no less important calling now. She's the Primary President at the Bloomington 7th Ward near St. George, Utah. See a photo gallery at LDS Church News.

The lieutenant governor during the administration of Mike Leavitt, Walker assumed the office of governor after Leavitt was nominated by President George W. Bush to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2003. Walker served as governor until the end of Leavitt's term on January 3rd, 2005. In a move considered controversial at the time, the Utah Republican Party at its convention on May 8th, 2004 elected not to place Walker on the ballot for the party primary (held on June 22nd, 2004), selecting instead Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Nolan Karras as the two potential Republican party candidates for the office of Governor of the State of Utah. Huntsman went on to win both the primary and general elections.

Primary is the auxiliary set up by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to introduce young children to the Church. The purpose of Primary is to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them learn to live it. Throughout Primary, children are taught that they are children of God and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them, and in turn learn to love our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It also prepares them to accept baptism and confirmation at the age of eight. In the later stages, Primary helps boys prepare to receive the priesthood and be worthy to use this power to bless and serve others, and helps girls prepare to be righteous young women, to understand the blessings of the priesthood and the temple, and to serve others. While Primary includes a Nursery class for those as young as 18 months, the more consistent instruction begins at age three when they enter the Sunbeam class. It continues until they reach the age of 12, when qualified boys have the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon them and are ordained to the office of a deacon. The girls enter the Young Women program at that time.

The impetus for the establishment of Primary came from Aurelia Spencer Rogers, a 44-year-old mother of 12, who felt strongly that something should be done about the behavior of the neighborhood boys who ran freely through the town day and night. The question framed itself in her mind, “What will our girls do for good husbands, if this state of things continues? Could there not be an organization for little boys, and have them trained to make better men?” Subsequently, under the direction of the Priesthood, the first Primary was held in the Farmington Rock Chapel on Sunday, August 25th, 1878, with 215 children attending. Now, more than 125 years later, approximately one million attend each week. A sampling of typical activities is presented HERE.

Olene Walker may not be making headlines as a Primary President, but she's helping shape young lives during the most formative years.

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