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10 Changes Announced This General Conference

Many historic changes were announced during and leading up to the October 2019 general conference. In case you missed any, here's an overview of these adjustments and what they mean for your wards and families.

1. The First Presidency Announces Women and Children Can Now Serve as Witnesses

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a historic policy change Wednesday morning allowing women and children to serve as witnesses during sacred ordinances. These changes include:

  1. Any baptized member of the Church may serve as a witness of the baptism of a living person. This change pertains to all baptisms outside the temple.
  2. A proxy baptism for a deceased person may be witnessed by anyone holding a current temple recommend, including a limited-use temple recommend.
  3. Any endowed member with a current temple recommend may serve as a witness to sealing ordinances, living and proxy.

“I testify of the importance of the work that the Lord has entrusted to each of us,” said President Nelson. “He has prepared us to serve at this time, and He will continue to help and sustain us as we seek to build up His kingdom on earth. . . . Adjustments allow for covenants to be planted in the hearts of people living in different times and circumstances.” 

2. The Come, Follow Me Curriculum Will Be Adjusted for the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women 

Brother Stephen W. Owen announced in the Saturday morning session of general conference that an adjustment will be made with the youth curriculum starting in January. The Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women will still focus on gospel topics but their curriculum will be aligned with Come, Follow Me — For Individuals and Families to further support home-centered, Church-supported gospel learning.

“This is a small change, but it can make a big impact on the spiritual nourishment of the youth,” he said.

3. Leaders Were Released and New Leaders Sustained

President Henry B. Eyring announced the following changes to Church leadership at the Saturday afternoon session of general conference.

The following General Authority Seventies were released and given emeritus status:

The following Area Seventies were released:

  • Julio C. Acosta, Blake R. Alder, Alain L. Allard, Omar A. Alvarez, Taiichi Aoba, Carlos F. Arredondo, Aley K. Auna Jr., Grant C. Bennett, Michael H. Bourne, Rómulo V. Cabrera, Wilson B. Calderón, Hernando Camargo, José C. F. Campos, Nicolás Castañeda, Walter Chatora. Zeno Chow, Robert J. Dudfield, J. Kevin Ence, Meliula M. Fata, K. Mark Frost, Claude R. Gamiette, Maurício G. Gonzaga, Leonard D. Greer, Jose L. Isaguirre, Tae Gul Jung, Sergio L. Krasnoselsky, Milan F. Kunz, Bryan R. Larsen, G. Kenneth Lee, Geraldo Lima, W. Jean-Pierre Lono, Khumbulani Mdletshe, Dale H. Munk, Norman R. Nemrow, Yutaka Onda, Wolfgang Pilz, Raimundo Pacheco De Pinho, Gennady N. Podvodov, Abraham E. Quero, Marco A. Rais, Steven K. Randall, Francisco J. Ruiz de Mendoza, Edwin A. Sexton, Raúl H. Spitale, C. Walter Treviño, 'Aisake K. Tukuafu, Juan A. Urra, Raul S. Villanueva, Leonard Woo

And the following men were called as Area Seventies:

  • Michel J. Carter, Alfred Kyungu, R. Pepper Murray, Ryan K. Olsen, Iotua Tune

4. The Church Will Discontinue Young Men Presidencies at the Ward Level and Adjust Ward Leadership Responsibilities


President Russell M. Nelson spoke during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference to introduce adjustments that are “intended to help young men and young women develop their sacred personal potential,” he said. These include:

  • • The responsibility of the bishop as president of the Aaronic priesthood is being emphasized in accordance with Doctrine and Covenants 107:15.
  • • Because of this adjustment, Young Men presidencies in local congregations are now discontinued so bishops can spend more time with youth.
  • • Young Women presidents now report to and counsel directly with a bishop. 
  • • Young Women presidents and other leaders in the ward will take a greater role in counseling.
  • • A congregation’s bishopric youth committee meeting will be replaced by a ward youth council.

► You'll also like: Your Questions About the Youth General Conference Adjustments Answered

5. Elder Cook Details New Language and Terms to Be Used to Support These Changes

  • • At all levels of Church governance, Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Primary and Sunday School are referred to as “organizations” instead of “auxiliaries.” Those who lead these organizations at the general level are “General Officers”; those who lead organizations at the ward and stake level are “ward officers” and “stake officers.”
  • • The word “Mutual” will be retired and become “Young Women activities,” “Aaronic Priesthood quorum activities,” or “youth activities.” These activities will be held weekly where possible.

6. Sister Cordon Announces a New Young Women Theme

The new Young Women theme is:

I am a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to become like Him. I seek and act upon personal revelation and minister to others in His holy name.

I will stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places.

As I strive to qualify for exaltation, I cherish the gift of repentance and seek to improve each day. With faith, I will strengthen my home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, and receive the ordinances and blessings of the holy temple.

7. Changes Will Be Made to Young Women Classes and Names

For more than a century, the Church’s Young Women program has divided girls into three classes. Going forward, Sister Cordon said, Young Women leaders and their bishops are to prayerfully consider the young women in their ward and organize them by age according to the size and needs of their particular group.

In addition, the names of Beehive, Mia Maid, and Laurel are discontinued, Sister Cordon announced, and all classes will be referred to as “Young Women." 

“However your classes are organized, you young women are vital in building unity,” Sister Cordon said. “Be a light to those around you. Be the source of love and care you are hoping to receive from others. With a prayer in your heart, continue to reach out and be a force for good. As you do so, your life will be filled with kindness. You will have better feelings toward others and will begin to see their goodness in return.”

8. The Church Will Build 8 New Temples Around the World

During the women's session of general conference, President Russell M. Nelson announced eight new temples to be built around the world. 

  • Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Orem, Utah
  • Bentonville, Arkansas
  • Bacolod, Philippines
  • Taylorsville, Utah
  • Cobán, Guatemala
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

9. President Nelson Shared Adjustments to Temple Recommend Interview Questions

During the Sunday afternoon session of the October 2019 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson announced that the questions asked during temple recommend interviews will be adjusted.

The interview questions for temple recommends are below. Verbiage in 11 questions has been modified.

  1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God, the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost?
     
  2. Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and of His role as your Savior and Redeemer?
     
  3. Do you have a testimony of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
     
  4. Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?

    Do you sustain the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators?

    Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local leaders of the Church?
     
  5. The Lord has said that all things are to be “done in cleanliness” before Him (Doctrine and Covenants 42:41).

    Do you strive for moral cleanliness in your thoughts and behavior?

    Do you obey the law of chastity?
     
  6. Do you follow the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ in your private and public behavior with members of your family and others?
     
  7. Do you support or promote any teachings, practices, or doctrine contrary to those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
     
  8. Do you strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, both at home and at church; attend your meetings; prepare for and worthily partake of the sacrament; and live your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?
     
  9. Do you strive to be honest in all that you do?
     
  10. Are you a full-tithe payer?
     
  11. Do you understand and obey the Word of Wisdom?
     
  12. Do you have any financial or other obligations to a former spouse or to children?

    If yes, are you current in meeting those obligations?
     
  13. Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple, including wearing the temple garment as instructed in the endowment?
     
  14. Are there serious sins in your life that need to be resolved with priesthood authorities as part of your repentance?
     
  15. Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in temple ordinances?

10. President Nelson Announced That 2020 Will Be a Bicentennial Celebration of the First Vision

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the First Vision, President Nelson announced, "General conference next April will be different from any previous conference. In the next six months, I hope that every member and every family will prepare for a unique conference that will commemorate the very foundations of the restored gospel."

President Nelson suggested that as members prepare for this sacred anniversary that they read "afresh Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision as recorded in the Pearl of Great Price." He continued: "Our course of study for next year in Come, Follow Me is the Book of Mormon. You may wish to ponder important questions such as, 'How would my life be different if my knowledge gained from the Book of Mormon were suddenly taken away?' Or, 'How have the events that followed the First Vision made a difference for me and my loved ones?'"

President Nelson promised: "Select your own questions. Design your own plan. Immerse yourself in the glorious light of the Restoration. As you do, general conference next April will not only be memorable, it will be unforgettable."

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