Kevin Barney posted recently about reading his father’s 1953 journal, a record his father kept to fulfill requirements for becoming a “Master M Man.” Since this program disappeared a generation ago, probably many bloggernaclers are unfamiliar with it.

The Mutual (Mutual Improvement Association, or MIA) used to be the social and recreational arm of the church, for adults as well as for the teens currently served by the Young Men/Young Women program. You became an M Man (or a Gleaner, for girls) when you turned 18, or graduated from high school, or (in the event you weren’t able to graduate) your age peers reached that milestone, and you remained an M Man/Gleaner until you were 30 – unless you married, at which point you and your spouse joined the Young Marrieds (which followed much of the M Man/Gleaner program, but with additional family, relationship, and child care features).

The M Men/Gleaners was more than just a class for young adults who had aged out of the youth program — more than today’s Young Single Adult “amuse ‘em till you marry ‘em off” program. It was an educational and experiential preparation for lifelong achievement and assuming adult roles in the Church.  One manual says of the M Men:

Man does not stand alone. He needs to experience achievements in human relationships, social graces, self-control, propriety, and in the cultural arts; to have wholesome fun; to understand the meaning of true brotherhood and friendship; to love and be loved; to feel his own worth and be creative in his own right; and to know the joy of real service to his fellow men.

The pinnacle of the program was to become a Master M Man/Golden Gleaner, a program which took those goals – which are chiefly focused inward, enhancing an individual’s life – and turned them outward: Those pursuing the voluntary Master M Man and Golden Gleaner recognition were in active training to run the auxiliaries and the wards – to become the future leaders of the church.

The purposes of the program were stated as:

1. To build testimonies
2. To build people through service
3. To develop leadership

The materials stressed that Master M Men and Golden Gleaners were not separate, elite groups. They did not meet together, but were ordinary members of their respective groups, serving as role models and learning to direct ward activities. “The Master M Man-Golden Gleaner program is not intended to create a new organization. M Men and Gleaners who earn these honors are expected to continue as regular members of the M Man-Gleaner class as long as they are within the age limit. It is hoped they will utilize the qualities of leadership that are developed through holding positions in the Church and community.”

Ward and stake leaders – not class leaders – signed off as the requirements were completed. The applicant had to write a detailed letter to the MIA general board explaining what he or she had done to meet each requirement and presenting the certifications of the local leaders. And it all had to be in the office with all t’s crossed by the applicant’s 30th birthday – one day late, and no Master M Man pin for you.

I was unable to find the specific requirements to become a Master M Man in 1953, the year Kevin’s father kept his journal. Those requirements would have been similar, though, to these from the early 1960s:

(Meet all of these requirements)

I. Be a member in good standing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Compliance with this requirement is to be determined by a personal interview with the bishop of the ward or president of the branch at the time application is submitted. He will not certify the candidate until he is satisfied the following conditions are being met:

A. The candidate is living an honest and virtuous life.
B. The candidate is active in church meetings and activities and is willing and dependable in accepting responsibilities in the ward, branch, stake, or mission.
C. The candidate is attending sacrament meetings.
D. The candidate is complying with the law of tithing.
E. The candidate is observing the Word of Wisdom.

II. A. Work must be done after the candidate becomes a fully qualified member of the class and before his or her 30th birthday.

B. Complete any one of the following:

1. Three years of active membership and regular attendance at an M Man-Gleaner, Young Marrieds, or Mutual Study class.

2. One year of regular class attendance and activity and three years of MIA service as an officer or teacher.

3. Five years of MIA service as an officer or teacher. Completion of a full-time mission can substitute for either one year of class attendance or one year of MIA service as an officer or teacher.

(Meet any two of these requirements)

1. Fill an honorable mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints away from home.

2. Fill an honorable stake mission for not less than one year.

3. Teach a class in any Church organization for a year.

4. Participate in temple endowment work at not fewer than six sessions.

5. Read and make a satisfactory written report of not less than 250 words each on any two of the following books:

The Standard Works of the church (Bible accepted as 2 books)
Books by the presidents of the Church
Books by other General Authorities
Comparable works by other Latter-day Saint writers

6. Discover through original research and obtain clearance through the Church genealogical office for at least five names of the candidate’s kindred dead.

7. Devote at least 20 hours of service outside the candidate’s immediate family, and during a period of one year, to the service of others. This may include visits or service to the shut-ins, the sick, the lonely, or the needy. It may include a ward or stake welfare project, home teaching, or work as a Relief Society visiting teacher.

8. Graduate from a Latter-day Saint college, or institute, or complete at least 18 quarter credit hours or 12 semester hours of religious training at an LDS college.

9. Read at least three different M Man-Gleaner or Young Marrieds manuals and prepare a comprehensive written report of each to be approved by the department leader.

10. (Girls only) Earn the 7th Individual Award or already have earned seven Individual Awards.

(Meet any three of these requirements)

1. Be an active class officer in a ward M Man-Gleaner or Young Marrieds organization for a year. (College students may receive credit for the academic year.)

2. Be an active council member in any stake or inter-stake M Man-Gleaner or Young Marrieds organization for a year.

3. Be an active stake executive officer or stake board member in any priesthood or church auxiliary organization for a year.

4. Be an active executive officer in any ward priesthood or church auxiliary organization or a group leader in military service for a year.

5. Be general chairman of a stake or inter-stake MIA event, such as a banquet, project, or party. Firesides are not included.

6. Be general chairman of any ward or stake recreational event, such as a Gold and Green Ball, a ward party or reunion, or an athletic tournament involving an extended series of play.

7. Be a chairman of at least four firesides for ward, stake, inter-stake, or combinations of these.

8. Be a director in MIA of dancing, drama, music, or speech for a year, or of YW camp for a season.

9. Be an Improvement Era director for one year.

10. Serve as regular coach of an organized ward athletic team or be the ward YWMIA sports director for one year. This means being actively in charge of practices and games, directing the teams and supervising the activity.

(Meet any five of these requirements)

1. Give two or more well-organized talks of not less than ten minutes each from a pulpit at an LDS meeting.

2. Represent the class in formal debate or be a moderator of at least two class panels.

3. Present before the class or other Latter-day Saint group a book review of at least 30 minutes duration.

4. Read 12 consecutive issues of The Improvement Era, writing a brief statement on each of the three or four chief articles in each issue.

5. Take part in a ward or stake three-act play, or play a major role in a one-act play or operetta, or play two minor roles in such productions, or be in two roadshows, or participate in a stake or inter-stake drama or speech festival. NOTE: Participation in skits may not be counted.

6. Act as director, stage director, costume director, property manager, lighting technician, or make-up director for a three-act or one-act MIA play, or operetta, or a roadshow.

7. Be an active member of a ward or stake MIA chorus or ward choir for one full season; or sing a solo or participate as a member of a duet, trio, or quartet in at least three ward or stake meetings during one year; or participate in a stake, inter-stake, or all-church music festival.

8. Act as organist, pianist, or chorister of any church organization for a year; or play a solo or participate as a member of an instrumental duet, trio, or quartet in at least three MIA or other ward meetings.

9. Dance a floor show number at a Gold and Green Ball, stake or inter-stake MIA dance; stake, inter-stake, or all-church dance festival; or perform a solo or be in a group exhibition dance created originally for a roadshow, operetta or similar ward or stake MIA production.

(Meet any four of these requirements)

1. Write a poem, story, article, skit, roadshow or play, or create a dance or musical composition, any of which is used in one of our church organizations or is published.

2. Edit and supervise production of a ward or stake monthly paper or news bulletin for not fewer than three consecutive issues.

3. Make a Treasures of Truth book and have it up to date for a minimum of one year; or write regularly for one full year a personal journal. NOTE: This is not intended to be a diary-type list of daily activities but rather a record of significant events, thoughts, and personalities.

4. Create an original piece of art work (painting, sculpture, blueprint of a house plan or landscaping) and exhibit it to the class.

5. Redecorate a room by doing at least two of the following:

a. Make draperies or curtains
b. Make slip covers.
c. Paper walls or paint cupboards and woodwork
d. Refinish furniture.

6. Make by hand at least six different types of articles. Fabric, wood, metal, plastic or other material may be used. Other useful articles, such as farm tools and equipment or trade objects may be counted. Articles made in school do not qualify.

7. Make three articles of clothing, one of which will be a dress, suit, or coat.

8. Can or freeze the equivalent of 30 quarts, some in each of the following groups:

a. Fresh fruits or vegetables
b. Jams and jellies
c. Pickles and relishes

9. Plan menus, prepare and serve meals for the family for one week. Menus must be planned one week in advance and submitted for approval of ward leader. NOTE: Women must fill requirement and obtain signature while still single. May be filled by men married or single.

10. Develop an original recipe and serve its product to your class or at a ward function.

11. Create and carry out a plan for the decorating of or advertising for any ward or stake event.

Athletic and Special Recognition

M Men and Gleaners may substitute any one of the following requirements for one requirement in Group C – Cultural and/or any three for three requirements in Group D – Creative.

1. Basketball – Represent your ward or branch in a stake, regional, or all-church basketball tournament.

NOTE: This means being a regular member of the squad and playing not less than fifty minutes in such games. Not more than ten men or twelve women from a ward may be given this credit in one year. A maximum of two credits may be earned – one for each year of participation.

2. Softball – Represent your ward or branch in a stake, regional, or all-church softball tournament.

NOTE: This means playing as a regular member of the squad in not less than half of the team’s scheduled games. Not more than twelve players from a ward may be given this credit in one year. Maximum of two credits.

3. Volleyball – Represent your ward or branch in a stake, regional or all-church volleyball tournament.

NOTE: This means playing as a regular member of the squad in not less than half of the team’s scheduled games. Not more than eight players can be given credit from one ward in a year. Maximum of two credits.

4. Other sports – Represent your ward or branch in any other MIA-sponsored athletic competition on a stake, regional, or all-church basis. Maximum of two credits will be allowed for each sport.

NOTE: Credit in the athletics group will be allowed for other major sports, such as soccer or cricket, in other countries in cases where regular LDS church leagues are established. The general board committee will consider such applications individually in regard to extent of participation, etc. Also, in communities where regular LDS Church league play is not possible, in the U.S. or abroad, credit may be allowed for participation with an organized LDS team playing as a church team in any organized league.

August 23, 2009:  Keepa’ninny Maurine has sent in photos of her Golden Gleaner pin, and her husband’s Master M Man pin and certificate.  Thanks, Maurine.

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