The following was written by Tad Walch for the Deseret News. To read the full article, click here

Eli Staggs, 17, has been dying to see “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” for two years, but while he stood in line to see the movie in Kansas City on Thursday afternoon, he found himself looking ahead to performing proxy baptisms in an LDS temple in January.

“It’s a pretty rare opportunity to baptize someone before your mission,” said Staggs, a Mormon priest, a priesthood office for boys 16 to 18 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That’s about to change.

The First Presidency announced Thursday that LDS boys and girls will have new opportunities to serve in the faith’s 159 temples around the world. The announcement was made through a letter to church leaders that will be read to congregations on Sunday in worship services. It began drawing response from members around the nation and world immediately.

Beginning Jan. 1, young women ages 12-18 will be able to assist with tasks in the temple baptistry currently performed by adult women who serve as temple ordinance workers or volunteers.

Priests will be able to perform baptisms for the dead and serve as witnesses for those proxy baptisms. That’s a change in church policy. Until now, priests could perform baptisms for the living, but baptisms on behalf of the dead were performed only by adult men.

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