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The 2023 youth theme: Insights from general youth leaders

If we choose to truly understand and act on those 10 words, what we “do” will change this year as we come to Christ,’ President Cordon says.

A young woman listens during a youth devotional in Praia, Cabo Verde, on Saturday, June 18, 2022, prior to the dedication of the Praia Cape Verde Temple dedication on Sunday.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

‘If we choose to truly understand and act on those 10 words, what we “do” will change this year as we come to Christ,’ President Cordon says.

A young woman listens during a youth devotional in Praia, Cabo Verde, on Saturday, June 18, 2022, prior to the dedication of the Praia Cape Verde Temple dedication on Sunday.

The 2023 youth theme is a brief 10 words from the Apostle Paul’s epistle in the New Testament to the Saints in Philippi — “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

“On the surface, we know what these words mean — but do we?” asked Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon. “Just like learning about trust last year, I hope we dive into this 2023 theme and learn what the Lord has to teach us.

“This will be a year for all of us to study and consider in depth what it looks like to draw upon the powers of Heaven. To have the Lord strengthen us. To come to depend upon that strength and recognize it for the divine help it is, and forever will be, through Christ.”

Young Men General President Steven J. Lund connected the 2023 youth theme to the new principle-based “For the Strength of Youth” guide released in October 2022. The guide focuses on Christ being the strength of youth.

“‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ — this is the need of our age, isn’t it? How often do we hear from youth, ‘I just don’t know what to do. I feel adrift. I don’t know how to find any moorings. I just need somebody to help me find my way’? And this is the way.

“The need of our time, of our youth, is to find a better way forward. And that better way forward is defined by these principles,” President Lund said.

The 2023 youth theme comes from Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
As youth and youth leaders kick off a new year of activities, camps, devotionals and For the Strength of Youth conferences, the Young Women and Young Men general presidencies offered some insights on the 2023 youth theme.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, commented on the inspired timing of the theme. “This was something that both presidencies, jointly, unitedly, by the sensation of the Holy Ghost, recommended to the First Presidency and the Twelve, who embraced it, and now it’s the theme.

“It goes right back to the FSY guide and Elder [Dieter F.] Uchtdorf’s comment, ‘Christ is the strength of youth.’ And that’s exactly what Paul is saying, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.’”

Young Men general presidency: President Steven J. Lund, Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor, left, and Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor, right.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, said: “I love God’s divine design. Sometimes I find myself looking back on the timing of how everything works together — I am surprised, but then, not really. This is God’s work, and He is the one in charge.”

With the timing of the 2023 youth theme and the new FSY guide, “I think the Lord wants the youth to know that He needs them, and He trusts them,” Sister Craig said. “He trusts them to live as disciples of Jesus Christ and to be a light in a world that is becoming increasingly dark. Living as a disciple of Jesus Christ is not always easy and many times takes us out of our comfort zones.

“That being said, we can go forward with faith, knowing that the grace of Jesus Christ will make us equal to anything that we are being asked to do. He really is our strength.”
Young Women general presidency: President Bonnie H. Cordon, center, Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor, left, and Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor, right.

In 2022, Latter-day Saint youth across the globe focused on putting their trust in the Lord, acknowledging Him in all things and walking in His path (see Proverbs 3:5-6). How does the 2023 youth theme build on this message?
Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, said: “We spent last year focusing on trusting in the Lord with all our hearts. By learning to lean on His understanding and not their own, we hope our youth are recognizing Him directing their paths.

“This year’s theme, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,’ builds upon that trust. Jesus Christ’s infinite Atonement not only provides a way to repent and be forgiven of our sin but gives us strength to do hard things we cannot do on our own.”
Sister Craven referenced what President Russell M. Nelson told youth in June 2018 about their capacity: “My beloved younger brothers and sisters, you are among the best the Lord has ever sent to this world. You have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.”

Sister Craven added, “Our prayer is that our strong and very capable youth will learn that as they continue to trust in the Lord, He will enable them to accomplish all good and righteous things.”

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, explained the context of Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13 — a message that could be misunderstood.
“He’s not talking about, ‘Oh, you can win every trophy. You can win every game. You can win every election and you can do anything, because Christ will help you.’ That’s not the message,” Brother Wilcox said.

Young attendees listen to Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during an appearance at the For the Strength of Youth conference at Seattle University on Thursday, July 21, 2022 in Seattle, Washington.

John Lok, for the Deseret News
In the two preceding verses, Paul writes: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: … I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

Brother Wilcox continued: “He’s talking about some of these horrible situations that he’s been in and how Christ has been his help and his strength, as he has been able to deal with circumstances that have been out of his control. He’s learned how to turn to Christ for strength, and that’s what I’m hoping the young people will walk away with this year.”
President Cordon pointed out that “there is hope and forward movement in this theme” and each word has meaning.

“With God nothing is impossible (see Luke 1:37). That means that with God all things are possible,” she said, emphasizing the word “with.” “What does it mean to be ‘with God?’ What are the ‘all things’ we hope to do? What does it mean to accomplish them ‘through Christ?’ Are we willing to surrender our ways to His ways?.

“If we choose to truly understand and act on those 10 words, what we ‘do’ will change this year as we come to Christ. Coming unto Christ is often stepping out of the world.”
President Cordon said the Lord is eager to grant increased power and strength, “but we must show up.”

“There is work involved in drawing upon the powers of heaven — being worthy of a temple recommend and choosing to use it. Coming weekly to the sacrament table, renewing our covenants, and receiving the promise of power that comes through the Holy Ghost. …
Kiana Ambros laughs with Penita Sedina prior to a youth devotional at the meetinghouse at the Yigo Guam Temple site in Yigo, Guam, on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

“Living in the last days continually demands the very best of our agency,” President Cordon continued. “We are continually barraged by a variety of choices that seem to need to be made quickly. God is always a support and always a strength. Pausing and prayerfully asking what He would have us do takes great effort. But the strength and power ― His strength and power — that come will carry us forward.

“With Christ as our strength, what we choose to do will change as we align our will with His. This will be a year of discovery as we learn to do this.”

President Lund added that without the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the world can be a dark and cynical place.

“What I know is there’s no room for cynicism in this Church. We follow a living prophet. We follow He whom he follows, the Savior of the world … . I know that the gospel path is that place towards happiness and joy.”

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New York State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers of the

The New York State Department of Health is reminding New Yorkers of the dangers that come with binge and heavy drinking as we approach New Year’s Eve celebrations.

“As we prepare to gather with loved ones and celebrate the new year, it’s important to know the behaviors and risk factors associated with binge drinking,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “Binge and heavy drinking have dangerous short- and long-term health impacts and lead to thousands of premature deaths in New York every year. I thank the Department’s team at the Center for Community Health for shedding light on an issue that impacts so many New Yorkers.”

Binge drinking and heavy drinking are two patterns of excessive alcohol use. The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on a single occasion. Heavy drinking is defined as consuming eight or more drinks per-week for women and 15 or more drinks per-week for men.

“We know that excessive drinking can result in negative short-term and longer-term impacts our on health and well-being. While alcohol is often a part of New Year’s Celebrations, it is important that it is consumed responsibly to help ensure that everyone has a safe and healthy holiday,” OASAS Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham said.

The latest key findings from the Department’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) report, an annual survey of adults, showed one in six adults in New York State (16.7 percent) reported excessive alcohol use in the form of either binge or heavy drinking. While fewer New Yorkers reported binge drinking than the year prior, there was still a slight increase in reported heavy drinking. An estimated 14.7 percent of adults in New York State reported binge drinking, while 6.5 percent reported heavy drinking.

The survey is administered annually and the results are compiled by the Department’s Center for Community Health.

Excessive alcohol use is one of the leading causes of preventable and premature deaths in the United States, responsible for more than 6,700 deaths annually in New York, and more than 140,000 deaths nationwide. Excessive drinking is also associated with both short-term and long-term health outcomes. Short-term outcomes include unintentional injuries and violence. Long-term health impacts include increased risk for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, liver disease, and other digestive diseases. An estimated 3.2 percent of all cancer deaths in New York State are also attributable to alcohol consumption.

Binge and heavy drinking can impact all population groups, but the BRFSS report found that binge drinking was more commonly reported in men, and adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more. White, non-Hispanic adults also reported higher rates of binge drinking (17.3 percent) and heavy drinking (9 percent) when compared to adults representing other racial and ethnic groups. The prevalence of binge drinking was significantly higher in adults who reported frequent mental distress, and among adults who currently smoke cigarettes.

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on public gatherings may have also had an impact on the prevalence of binge and heavy drinking. The BRFSS report acknowledged changes in alcohol policy could have impacted the patterns of alcohol consumption after bars, restaurants, and pubs closed down for a period of time, but were later authorized to serve to-go alcohol, and liquor retail outlets were deemed essential and remained open.

If you or someone you know needs help finding treatment for alcohol or other substance dependence, you can find treatment and prevention resources on the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports website here.

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