ST. GEORGE — Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Sunday the end of the religion’s home teaching and visiting teaching programs.
The announcement was made by LDS president Russell M. Nelson at the Sunday afternoon session of church’s General Conference in Salt Lake City.
“We have made the decision to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them,” Nelson said over the pulpit in the Conference Center. “Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as ministering.”
As part of the newly dubbed “ministering,” Nelson said assigned men from the church’s priesthood and assigned women from church Relief Society and young women programs will now “function in serving and watching over members of the church throughout the world.”
In the previous home teaching program, men and young men in the church visited families in their congregation, shared a religious message and offered service. Relief Society women visited with other women in the church as part of the now-retired visiting teaching program. Young women were not part of the old programs.
“Gratefully and prayerfully, we open this new chapter in the history of the church,” Nelson said.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an LDS apostle, said information about the new program would be emailed to all LDS members around the world and immediately posted on ministering.lds.org. On the new website, visitors can find a video message by previous church president Thomas S. Monson, who died last year. Monson explained the purpose of the new program in the video.
“While bishops have the sacred duty to seek out and care for the poor and needy, all church leaders and members may be enlisted to help those in need,” Monson said in the undated video. “As you minister in the Lord’s way, you will bless lives, strengthen homes and increase faith.”
Some of the resources available on the ministering website offer guidance to local church leaders about dealing with topics like same-sex attraction, pornography and abuse for victims and offenders.
The new ministering program will not always take place in people’s homes or include a prepared message, Holland said.
“We will continue to visit homes as possible, but local circumstances such as large numbers, long distances, personal safety, other challenging conditions — this may preclude a visit to every home every month,” Holland said.
The April 2018 General Conference brought a number of big changes to the church, including announcing the church’s first non-white apostles and a shakeup to the priesthood quorum organization. At the end of the conference, Nelson also announced seven new temples to be built in Bengaluru, India; Managua, Nicaragua; Salta, Argentina; Layton, Utah; Richmond, Virginia, Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; and a major city yet to be determined in Russia.
After the announcement on priesthood quorums Saturday evening, church high priests and elders will now be combined into one Melchizedek Priesthood quorum with one presidency.
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