One Of The Programs Of The LDS Church Has Been Dashed

Multiple church leaders give talks on its replacement in semiannual conference, as Twitter reacts.

Russell Nelson marked his first General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with multiple changes, including an replacement of the church's home and visiting teaching programs.
Rick Bowmer / AP Images

Multiple church leaders give talks on its replacement in semiannual conference, as Twitter reacts.

Following several notable alterations to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its prophet, Russell Nelson, started the second of its two-day General Conference with another stunner.

“Visiting teaching,” by women Mormons, and “home teaching,” by male Latter-day Saints, is over, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.

Going forward, the church will have a “ministering” system, according to the Tribune.

Visiting and home teaching has seen women 18 and over, and males 12 and over, participate in monthly visits in assigned companionships to other members of their respective Mormon congregation. Organized similar to Mormon missionary visits, they took place at the other Mormons’ homes.

The visits were supposed to have had a message involving Mormon doctrine.

Nelson was sustained Saturday at the conference as the 17th president of the church, and two new apostles were announced; both are from outside the United States. In another announcement from the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, the church’s two priesthood organizations are being consolidated, reflecting a change across the world in church structure, as the Tribune reported.

Regarding the changes to visiting and home teaching, Nelson announced it Sunday afternoon.

Those in church hierarchy were “seeking a better way to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of our people,” Nelson said, according to the Tribune.

The leaders pulled from typical Mormon thought about gender, the Tribune reported.

“Effective ministering efforts are enabled by the innate gifts of the sisters … and by the incomparable power of the priesthood,” Nelson said.

Folks also reacted on Twitter.

For many, the announcement brought out admittances.

Jean Bingham, the head of the women’s organization, the Relief Society, offered how church members can participate in the ministering program “lovingly,” the Tribune reported.

“Ministering looks like elders quorum (the men’s organization) and Relief Society presidencies prayerfully counseling about assignments,” she said. “Rather than leaders just handing out slips of paper, it looks like counseling about the individuals and families in person as assignments are given to ministering brothers and sisters.”

“Ways to do that include going for a walk, meeting for a game night, offering service, or serving together,” the Tribune reported. “It can be accomplished in-person visits, phone calls, chatting online or texting, sending birthday cards or (as Bingham said) ‘cheering at a soccer game.'”

Some thought that the church is changing organizations to be more like the way women’s organizations have already run; its change in priesthood organizations, of which only men are a part, as announced the day before, resulted in looking more like the women’s.

“It looks like sharing a scripture or quote from a conference talk that would be meaningful to the individual. It looks like discussing a gospel question and sharing testimony to bring clarity and peace,” Bingham remarked. “It looks like becoming part of someone’s life and caring about him or her. It also looks like a ministering interview in which needs and strengths are discussed sensitively and appropriately. It looks like the ward council organizing to respond to a larger need.”

Others thought that the workload is still heavy.

The replacement of visiting and home teaching gives Mormons the opportunity to have “a heaven-sent opportunity to demonstrate pure religion undefiled before God … to minister to the widows and the fatherless, the married and the single, the strong and the distraught, the downtrodden and the robust, the happy and the sad,” apostle Jeffrey Holland said, according to the Tribune.

“All of us, every one of us… need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear a firm declaration of faith,” Holland said.

Some considered strategy.

Others considered timing.

Providing different methods of ministering, limiting accounting of visiting and home teaching to unpaid supervisors, and calling the program something new “won’t make an ounce of difference in our service unless we see this as an invitation to care for one another in a bold new holier way,” Holland said, according to the Tribune.