Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
Unless otherwise indicated, all images come from the LDS Media Library.
We’ve been holding on to our seats as the Church has made one change after another in the last year, all designed to hasten the work and plant testimony and understanding of the Lord deeper into our individual hearts.
“If you think the Church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning,” President Russell M. Nelson said about the Church in a video during his South American tour.
“Wait till next year, and then the next year,” President Nelson said. “Eat your vitamin pills. Get some rest. It’s going to be exciting.”
We have the sense that we are being prepared not only for more revelation and changes, but for tougher times. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, addressing the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship in November, spoke within the first few minutes “of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the reality of continuing revelation, the advent of the true King, and significance of ‘end times’, observing that at least some of his audience ‘must be thinking this opening a bit melodramatic for the purposes of this particular gathering.’ However, he continued, ‘I prefer to see it as apostolic. These are the topics that absorb 15 of us who toss and turn when we would like to sleep and slumber’”
We can assume that the movement in the Church is because important things are afoot, whether we see them or not, and so with that context we remind you of these changes this past year in the church:
We mourn with love the passing of President Thomas S. Monson, noting the huge change this was for the Church but do not include this change in how the Church has hastened the work. We also welcome two new apostles: Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares.
As the Church makes the shift from checking the box of home and visiting teaching to seeking revelation as to how to minister to individuals within our wards and branches, it is clear that we are being asked to move away from our figurative law of Moses and rise to a higher law. Unlike the past home and visiting teaching programs, ministering does not include a set monthly message in the Church magazines nor a prescribed way to keep in contact, such as in-home, face-to-face visits each month — even though visits are important when they are possible. The new method focuses on flexibility to the needs and circumstances of individuals throughout the world, coupled with quarterly face-to-face interviews between leadership and everyday members about personal and family needs.
During the general priesthood session on Saturday, March 31, President Russell M. Nelson announced a “significant” restructuring of ward and stake Melchizedek Priesthood quorums that will help Melchizedek Priesthood holders “accomplish the work of the Lord more effectively. In each ward, the high priests group and the elders quorum will now be combined into one elders quorum…These modifications have been under study for many months,” President Nelson said. “We have felt a pressing need to improve the way we care for our members and report our contacts with them. To do that better, we need to strengthen our priesthood quorums to give greater direction to the ministering of love and support that the Lord intends for His Saints. These adjustments are inspired of the Lord. As we implement them, we will be even more effective than we have been previously.”
The First Presidency announced changes to the way Church areas in the United States and Canada will be administered. Areas in North America—previously overseen by members of the Presidency of Seventy—will be administered by area presidencies. “The creation of area presidencies for the United States and Canada is an important step forward,” said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “It allows these brethren to focus on the specific needs of each region, providing counsel and direction to regional and local leaders. It also gives the Presidency of the Seventy greater capacity to assist the Quorum of the Twelve in their work and fulfill other assignments.”
In scripture, Jesus tells us to “be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” “Be One” was the theme of a First Presidency-sponsored event on June 1, 2018, celebrating the 1978 revelation on the priesthood on its 40th anniversary. BeOne.lds.org was created to provide more information about the event, which featured a message from the First Presidency, stories of faith of Church members and music from Gladys Knight, Alex Boyé, the Bonner family, the Unity Gospel Choir International and members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Not only did the event celebrate changes of the past, but it called for optimism and overcoming prejudice for a more unified Church going forward.
Access to many social media sites is no longer available in meetinghouses since May 2018 after a change to the Church’s Internet configuration in meetinghouses. Meant to be a way to further the purposes of the Church, enhance worship experiences and support administrative functions, Internet access in meetinghouses will be limited and not include non-Church-related Internet use. Sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Xfinity TV, Netflix and Hulu are among the list of sites no longer supported in Church buildings. With the change to two-hour church, it is no wonder that the Church wants to create an environment that focuses solely on gospel learning and fellowshipping.
For years, Church leaders have been preparing a new initiative to teach and provide leadership and development opportunities to all children and youth, to support families and to strengthen youth everywhere as they develop faith in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This new approach is intended to help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God. While this new initiative marks the end of Scouting and Personal Progress, the initiative is designed to allow local leaders, families and even the young people themselves to customize their efforts, while providing service opportunities and activities, fostering healthy relationships and supporting communities. Details will be shared at childrenandyouth.lds.org as the implementation date approaches.
Two books of sacred music published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will undergo significant changes during the next few years. An official notice has been sent to Church leaders around the world announcing a revision to “Hymns” and the “Children’s Songbook” used in worship services. “We recognize the power that sacred music has to unify the members of the Church throughout the world,” added Elder Rasband. “We desire to offer a consistent core collection of hymns and songs in every language that reflects the diverse needs of the global Church in our day.”
After many years of three-hour church consisting of sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and priesthood/auxiliary classes, President Russell M. Nelson announced in the 188th Semiannual General Conference “new balance and connection between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church.” It is part of an effort “to strengthen families and individuals through a home-centered and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship,” he said. This change is paired with the rolling out of the Come, Follow Me curriculum, which will give families and individuals resources to take charge of their own spiritual development and gain even more than they did during the three-hour block.
The First Presidency has announced a series of resources to help Church members and their families study the scriptures at home: “Come, Follow Me — For Individuals and Families.” In addition, new teaching resources, “Come, Follow Me — For Primary” and “Come, Follow Me — For Sunday School,” will be provided for use beginning in January 2019. These new 2019 resources take a home-centered, Church-supported approach to gospel living, learning and teaching (see Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 1.4). For years, Church leaders have been emphasizing that home is the best place to live, learn and teach the gospel, and gospel learning and teaching should be part of daily lives, not confined to Sunday classes. Now, the new meeting schedule and curriculum will empower individuals and families to become more spiritually self-reliant and converted to Jesus Christ.
In August, President Russell M. Nelson issues this statement regarding the name of the church: “The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with his will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so. Additional information about this important matter will be made available in the coming months.” Isn’t it interesting that with all of these changes within the Church to hasten the work there would be a re-emphasis on the Church’s full name and including the name of Jesus Christ? We will need the power of Christ to participate in and build the kingdom.
For only the third time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a new set of multivolume books about its history. The first book covers key events in the early history of the Church between 1815 and 1846. The four-volume narrative history, titled “Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days,” features authentic stories about the pioneers who established the Church around the globe. The history also emphasizes the impact women have had during the Church’s history and explains more clearly potentially challenging topics from the early days of the restoration.
Young men, young women and senior couples preparing to serve as full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are getting a quicker, more convenient way to open their mission calls. The Church is rolling out a new initiative in which missionary candidates receive their assignments online instead of in the mail. This process has been tested in various parts of the world for the past several months and will now be expanded to all of Utah and Idaho. By the end of 2018, it is anticipated that nearly all missionaries around the world with reliable Internet access will receive their calls online to serve in one of the Church’s 407 missions in more than 150 countries.
At the end of the 188th Semiannual General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans to build 12 new temples. In addition to this being the largest number of temples ever announced on the same day, the news brings the total number of Latter-day Saint temples operating, announced or under construction to 201 and the total number of temples announced in 2018 to 19. This comes exactly 18 years to the week since the Church completed its 100th temple. The Lord is not only hastening the work on this side of the veil, but is hastening the work of salvation for the dead.
The Church has announced changes to the recommendation process for young missionary candidates. These expanded opportunities will allow more young people to serve as missionaries in various capacities that meet their personal needs or circumstances. Beginning January 2, 2019, all young men and women in the United States and Canada — including those who may not be able to serve a proselyting mission due to health reasons — will use the same online recommendation process. They will complete recommendation forms, participate in interviews with their local Church leaders and undergo evaluations by medical professionals. Candidates will then receive a call from the president of the Church to serve either a proselyting or service mission.
An announcement on Friday, December 14, from the First Presidency changes the timeline of when children and youth complete Primary, move from one class or quorum to the next, and attend the temple for the first time—and for when young men may be ordained to priesthood offices. Beginning in January 2019, children will complete Primary and begin attending Sunday School and the Beehive class or deacons quorum as age-groups, not on their individual 12th birthdays as they have in the past. In addition, young men will be eligible to be ordained to a priesthood office in January of the year they turn 12, 14, and 16, and youth will be eligible to obtain a limited-use temple recommend beginning in January of the year they turn 12—based on their “individual worthiness, readiness, and personal circumstances.”