Review the 15 Major Church Announcements Since President Nelson Became Prophet

Contributed By Emmy Gardiner, Church News contributor

  • 15 January 2019

President Russell M. Nelson speaks about the “home-centered, Church-supported” curriculum changes during the Saturday morning session of the October 2018 general conference on Saturday, October 6, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

January 14 marks one year since President Russell M. Nelson became the 17th prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As this historic anniversary approaches, we thought it would be fitting to take a look back at some of the Church’s announcements throughout the past year.

1. Priesthood quorums are restructured.

In the priesthood session of the 188th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Nelson announced changes to the structure of priesthood quorums.

“Tonight, we announce a significant restructuring of our Melchizedek Priesthood quorums to accomplish the work of the Lord more effectively,” he said. “In each ward, the high priests and the elders will now be combined into one elders quorum. This adjustment will greatly enhance the capacity and ability of men who bear the priesthood to serve others.”

2. Ministering replaces home and visiting teaching.

In the same April 2018 general conference, President Nelson announced another shift from visiting teaching to ministering.

“We have made the decision to retire ‘home teaching’ and ‘visiting teaching’ as we have known them,” he said. “Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as ministering.”

“Effective ministering efforts are enabled by the innate gifts of the sisters and by the incomparable power of the priesthood,” President Nelson said. “We all need such protection from the cunning wiles of the adversary.”

3. The Church to end its relationship with Boy Scouts at the end of 2019, create new children and youth development program.

Starting December 31, 2019, “the Church will conclude its relationship as a chartered organization with all Scouting programs around the world,” according to a statement released by the Church and BSA on May 8, 2018.

“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 our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” the statement noted. “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.”

4. Updates to come to Church hymnbook and Children’s Songbook.

On June 18, the Church announced plans to publish new editions of the Hymns and the Children’s Songbook.

“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,” said Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“As an extension to the new printed hymnbook and songbook, additional sacred music will be made available online, including music of local interest in each language,” said Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy and an adviser to the revision project. “The new hymnbook and songbook, as well as music from the current hymnbook and songbook, will also be available online.”

Sacred music teaches the doctrines of the gospel, nourishes us spiritually, and has the power to unify Church members throughout the world. The Church has announced that it will revise the Hymns and the Children’s Songbook and invites members to participate.

5. New guidelines for youth bishop interviews are established.

A letter signed by the First Presidency and sent to general and local Church leaders established new guidelines for bishop interviews with the youth.

“Bishops have a sacred responsibility to lead, teach, and inspire youth,” the letter reads. “Effective personal interviews are one important way they do this. These interviews provide opportunities to help youth become disciples of the Savior, repent of transgressions, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Leaders who conduct interviews with youth should “prepare themselves spiritually to be guided by the Holy Ghost” and are encouraged “to carefully review the guidelines for interviews and counseling,” according to the letter.

6. Calling The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by its full name.

The Church issued a statement from President Nelson in August 2018 regarding the name of the Church. The statement reads:

“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.”

President Nelson also spoke on this topic in Canada and during October 2018 general conference.

7. So long, snail mail—mission calls to be posted online.

In September 2018, the Church announced that missionaries will now receive their calls online. Previously, future missionaries received their calls to serve through “snail mail.” But with this switch, they are able to view their call through a secured website and are even notified by text or email when their assignment has been made.

“Technology is there, and it’s so easy to do,” said Elder Brent H. Nielson, Executive Director of the Missionary Department. “We just put it online and they can read it in a matter of minutes.”

Missionary candidates now receive their assignments online instead of in the mail. In Fruit Heights, Utah, 17-year-old Billy Elliott recently received his call to the Peru Chiclayo Mission.

8. Gone are the days of “MoTab.” Church announces a revised name for choir.

To better align with President Nelson’s call to refrain from using “Mormon” as a nickname, the “Mormon Tabernacle Choir” changed their name to “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.”

“It’s a natural fit,” said choir president Ron Jarrett. “‘Tabernacle,’ because this is our home. ‘Temple Square,’ because that is where we perform. It’s where we are based and where we serve the Church.”

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs. The choir’s name was changed on October 5, 2018.

9. “Home-centered and Church-supported” program begins.

In another historic session of general conference in October 2018, President Nelson announced that beginning in 2019, Church meetings will begin supporting a new home-centered curriculum.

“Sunday Church meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament meeting each Sunday followed by a 50-minute class that will alternate each week. 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 weekly.”

The inspired “organizational adjustments”—endorsed by all members of the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—will “fortify our members and their families,” said President Nelson.

10. President Nelson announces 19 new temples.

During the April 2018 and October 2018 general conference sessions, President Nelson announced a combined number of 19 new temples. Those temples will be built in the following locations:

  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Salvador, Brazil
  • Yuba City, California
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Praia, Cape Verde
  • Yigo, Guam
  • Puebla, Mexico
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Davao, Philippines
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Washington County, Utah
  • Salta, Argentina
  • Bengaluru, India
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
  • Layton, Utah
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • A major city yet to be determined in Russia

Erik Ramsay and Amy Ramsay react to the announcement of 12 new temples during the Sunday afternoon session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday, October 7, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

11. Priesthood leaders announce discontinuance of major Church pageants.

With a goal of ensuring that all activities in the Church “increase faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” and share His message “throughout the world,” the Church announced that only three of the seven existing pageants will continue—the Nauvoo Pageant, the Mesa Pageant, and the British Pageant.

Cast members perform at the finale of the Mesa Easter Pageant. Photo by Scott P. Adair.

12. Changes to Primary progression, Young Men priesthood ordination, and youth temple recommends.

The First Presidency announced changes December 14 to the timeline children and youth in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will complete Primary, move from one class or quorum to the next, and attend the temple for the first time. The changes, effective January 2019, also impact when young men may be ordained to priesthood offices.

In December 2018, the First Presidency announced changes to Primary progression, young men priesthood ordination, and youth temple recommends.

“Beginning in January, children will complete Primary and begin attending Sunday School and Young Men and Young Women as age groups, not as individuals following their 12th birthdays.”

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,” wrote the First Presidency in a December 14 letter to local priesthood leaders.

13. Sister missionaries can now wear dress pants.

The First Presidency also updated missionary dress and grooming standards in December 2018.

“Adjustment to the missionary dress and grooming standards have changed over time since the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1830 and will continue to do so in the future,” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “As we adapt these standards, we always carefully consider the dignity of the missionary calling to represent Jesus Christ; the safety, security, and health of our beloved missionaries; and the cultural sensitivities of the places where they serve.”

14. First Presidency releases a statement on temples.

An excerpt from a statement issued by the First Presidency on January 2, 2019, said: “Over these many centuries, details associated with temple work have been adjusted periodically, including language, methods of construction, communication, and record-keeping. Prophets have taught that there will be no end to such adjustments as directed by the Lord to His servants.”

15. New missions and boundary realignments.

The Church also announced four new missions on January 2, 2019, with 12 existing missions to be dissolved into neighboring missions. Changes will take place July 1, at which time the Church will have a total of 399 missions worldwide.