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Correlation of the Church, Administration

by Frank O. May, Jr.

Correlation is the process of identifying the role of each part of the Church, placing each in its proper relationship to the others, and ensuring that each functions properly. The parts include doctrines and ordinances, organizations and agencies, programs and activities, meetings, and printed and audiovisual materials. All of these parts should be "fitly framed together" (Eph. 2:21). They function properly when they are connected systematically and operate in harmony and unity. Like the parts of a human body, each has its function, none is sufficient of itself, and none can usurp the tasks of others (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-28; D&C 84:108-110).

Correlation is a unifying process in which each organization of the Church subordinates limited views to the good of the whole Church. It is not censorship in the sense of inhibiting or channeling free expression and creativity. Rather, it is the way the Church ensures suitable and effective use of its resources.

Correlation serves under the direction of the First Presidency and the Twelve. It provides order to the many parts of the Church (cf. 1 Cor. 14:40; D&C 28:13; 107:84; 132:8) and systematic reviews of proposed action (cf. Matt. 18:16; D&C 6:28). It helps organizations avoid unnecessary duplication. Correlation ensures that Church programs, materials, and activities

When the Church was organized in 1830, its structure and operation were relatively simple. However, as the restoration of the gospel unfolded, the Church grew rapidly in numbers and organizational complexity. Various Church Presidents created or adopted the following auxiliary organizations: Relief Society in 1842 (for women), Sunday school in 1849, Young Ladies' retrenchment association in 1869 (which developed into the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association for teaching young women), Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association in 1875 (for teaching young men), and primary in 1878 (for children). (See also Auxiliary Organizations.) Church leaders also organized priesthood quorums, expanded missionary work into many countries, acquired family records to identify ancestors, constructed temples and meetinghouses, held religion classes, established schools, and implemented a program for assisting needy people.

As the programs and activities of Church organizations expanded in number and complexity, they came to have their own general and local officers, curricula, reporting systems, meetings, magazines, funding, and lines of communication.

Part of the role of correlation was to maintain order among these organizations. In 1907, the First Presidency appointed the Committee of Correlation and Adjustments; in 1908, the Correlation Committee and the General Priesthood Committee on Outlines; in 1916, the Social Advisory Committee (combined with the Correlation Committee in 1920); in 1939, the Committee of Correlation and Coordination; and in 1940, the Union Board of the Auxiliaries. Relying on the mandates found in latter-day scripture, these groups were to correlate Church organizations in their structures, curricula, activities, and meetings.

In 1960, the First Presidency directed a committee of General Authorities to review the purposes and courses of study of the priesthood and auxiliaries. The work of this committee laid the foundation for present-day correlation efforts. The committee identified the purposes of each organization from its inception, traced its expansions and changes, and reviewed its courses of study and activities. On the basis of the committee's recommendations, the First Presidency established three coordinating committees in 1961—one for children, one for youth, and one for adults—and a coordinating council that directed the activities of the three committees. The council and committees, each headed by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were to correlate the instructional and activity programs of priesthood quorums, auxiliaries, and other Church agencies.

By 1962, the Church had organized its curricula and activities around three groups: children, youth, and adults. In 1965, it introduced a Family Home Evening program with a study manual for families to learn gospel principles and values in their homes. By 1971, the Church had reformatted its magazines by age group rather than by organization—Ensign for adults, New Era for youth, and Friend for children.

In 1972, the First Presidency created the Department of Internal Communications to plan, correlate, prepare, translate, print, and distribute instructional materials and periodicals. As part of this reorganization, the First Presidency created the Correlation Department and placed all organizations, curricula, and periodicals under the direction of the priesthood.

In 1979 the Church published its own edition of the Bible in English, using the text of the King James Version. New editions of the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price were published in 1981.

The Church instituted a consolidated meeting schedule in 1980 to decrease the time required for meetings and allow more time for family instruction and activities, placing most local Sabbath meetings within a three-hour period.

Strengthening priesthood direction, the First Presidency organized the First Quorum of the seventy in 1975 and, in 1980, assigned its Presidents to be executive directors of departments at Church headquarters. In 1984, the First Presidency appointed area presidencies from the Quorums of the Seventy to supervise the affairs of the Church in assigned areas of the world.

In 1987, the First Presidency restated the role of correlation: All proposed official Churchwide materials, programs, and activities must be submitted for evaluation by the Correlation Department. Moreover, no proposed item could be developed under Church auspices or placed in formally authorized use without written direction to do so from the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

During the 1990s, the focus of Church correlation shifted from maintaining order among Church entities to simplifying and reducing programs and materials, and to limiting volume, complexity, and cost.

Church leaders have determined that excessively complex and expensive programs and materials can impede taking the gospel to "all nations, kindreds, tongues and people" (D&C 42:58). As the Church grows in developing areas of the world, it will include many members who have limited education and resources.

The present (1990) correlation process at Church headquarters permits representatives of departments and auxiliaries to propose annually the materials, programs, and activities they want to have considered. An originator proceeds with a proposed item only after it has appropriate concept and final production approval.

From Church headquarters, all communications are transmitted through a single priesthood line from the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve to stakes and wards and thereby to families and individuals.

In local stakes and wards (congregations), leaders correlate programs and activities through councils whose members represent everyone within stake or ward boundaries. These councils ensure that Church programs and resources are available to the people to help them learn and live the principles of the gospel.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page)


Church News. Oct. 21, 1961, p. 3; Jan. 20, 1962, pp. 6, 14; Dec. 5, 1970, p. 3; Jan. 8, 1972, p. 3.

Cowan, Richard O. Priesthood Programs of the Twentieth Century. Salt Lake City, 1974.

First Presidency letters. June 7, 1922; Mar. 24, 1960; Apr. 10, 1973; Jan. 15, 1976; June 7, 1978; Apr. 15, 1981; June 30, 1987; June 15, 1989.

Lee, Harold B. "The Plan of Coordination Explained." IE 65 (Jan. 1962):34-37.

Lee, Harold B. "Report from the Correlation Committee." IE 65 (Dec. 1962):936-41.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Correlation of the Church, Administration

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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