OGDEN -- The Ogden Institute is responding to the October policy change allowing younger people to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The institute is having a missionary preparation conference Friday and Dec. 1 that is open to all youths age 16 and older. Specifically targeted are those who are 17 and 18 years old.
"As soon as they announced the age option, we knew it was going to affect the Ogden Institute," said Greg Thorpe, an instructor and a student counsel adviser at the Institute. "We started getting calls."
Thorpe teaches two missionary preparation classes.
"We had talked about taking mission prep classes out to local high schools," he said. "We thought that might be a little tricky."
He said high school young men turning 18 during the school year would not have a chance to take the missionary preparation classes offered at the Institute.
"We've had a lot of response already," Thorpe said. "We might even do a follow-up."
Organizers have sent out letters to area stake presidents with instructions on how to register youths for the event.
Those who have not registered through their church leaders are asked to call the Institute at 801-621-1800 by Tuesday to register themselves.
Thorpe said the registrations will help organizers plan for food and facility use.
"We hope to encourage, strengthen, teach and bless the prospective missionaries from our area who plan to serve in the near future," states the letter to stake presidents. "This could also be a wonderful activity for Priest quorums and Laurel classes from your wards. Their priesthood and advisers are most welcome."
The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and from 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 1.
As an incentive for youths to attend and to arrive early, the first 300 young men will receive a purple tie and the first 250 young women will receive a purple scarf.
The evening's activities will include a "Missions Around the World" event, where returned missionaries will offer displays, some including food from the areas where they served.
Following this event will be the keynote address by Elder Gary Colman, a member of the church's First Quorum of the Seventy who serves as a counselor in the Caribbean area.
Activities on Dec. 1 will begin with a keynote address by Elder Lynn Summerhays, an Area Seventy from Farmington.
Following will be a number of workshops for participants to choose from. Each youth will be able to attend four 25-minute workshops.
Lunch will be provided at no charge.
Following lunch will be talks and testimonies by returned missionaries.
"It is really going to be good," Thorpe said. "It's not just for those who are for sure going. There are skills to be a better member missionary you could pick up here."
Most classes and workshops will be based on the manual "Preach My Gospel."
Those who attend are asked to wear missionary-type clothing. More information is available by calling the institute or sending an email to email@example.com.
The Ogden Institute of Religion is northwest of the Weber State University campus, at 1302 Edvalson St. in Ogden.