NAUVOO NEWS - Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opened the faith’s 188th Semiannual General Conference by announcing a “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.
“As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of ‘church’ as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home,” he continued. “We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for home-centered church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.”
Immediately following President Nelson’s Saturday morning remarks, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addressed the global audience and provided details of the forthcoming adjustments.
“The Sunday meeting schedule will be adjusted in the following ways, beginning in January 2019,” Elder Cook said. “The Sunday Church meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament meeting each Sunday, focused on the Savior, the ordinance of the sacrament, and spiritual messages. After time for transition to classes, Church members will attend a 50-minute class that will alternate each Sunday. Sunday School will be held on the first and third Sundays. Priesthood quorums, Relief Society, and Young Women meetings will be held on the second and fourth Sundays. Meetings on the fifth Sunday will be under the direction of the bishop. Primary will be held each week during this same 50-minute period and will include singing time and classes.”
Four purposes and blessings associated with this and other recent changes were given:
Deepening conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthening faith in Them.
Strengthening individuals and families through home-centered, Church-supported curriculum that contributes to joyful gospel living.
Honoring the Sabbath day, with a focus on the ordinance of the sacrament.
Helping all of Heavenly Father’s children on both sides of the veil through missionary work and receiving ordinances and covenants and the blessings of the temple.
A First Presidency letter outlining the changes is being sent to local leaders of the Church’s 30,000-plus congregations worldwide, along with supplementary material.
An enclosure to the letter provides answers to 12 questions, including:
How will we enhance gospel learning and living at home and in our personal lives?
What is the format for sacrament meetings?
What is the Sunday schedule for multiple wards or branches sharing a meetinghouse?
Do we hold optional courses during church on Sunday?
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are confident Latter-day Saints “will be blessed in extraordinary ways” by this change, said Elder Cook. “Sunday can be a day of gospel learning and teaching at church and in the home. As individuals and families engage in family councils, family history, ministering, service, personal worship, and joyful family time, the Sabbath day will truly be a delight.”
The Church’s current format of three consecutive hours of Sunday worship services began in 1980. Prior to that, Church meetings were held throughout the Sabbath day and during the week.