“New Church Handbook of Instructions,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 77
Effective 1 January 1999, a new, two-volume Church Handbook of Instructions replaced 30 Church handbooks and publications for priesthood and auxiliary leaders. Book 1 replaced the General Handbook of Instructions for stake, district, mission, and temple presidencies; bishoprics; and branch presidencies. Book 2 replaced nearly all other published instructions for stake, district, ward, and branch priesthood and auxiliary leaders. Only a few specialized handbooks will continue to be published separately, such as handbooks for temple administration, mission presidents, and Scouting. All superseded publications, listed in the introduction of the new handbook, are to be discarded.
The Church’s new leadership handbook has been consolidated to provide direction on Church administration in a more concise and useful form. The two-part handbook gives local leaders all the procedural direction and information they need to carry on the essential work of the Church. Its contents are made accessible by a detailed index. The Church Handbook of Instructions also:
Includes statements of doctrines, scriptures, and principles upon which directions are based.
Eliminates inconsistencies among former handbooks and has 33 percent fewer total words than the obsolete publications.
Minimizes duplication of information and provides uniform organization, content, and tone in each section.
Enables leaders of each organization to see their place in the total Church structure while maintaining their organization’s identity.
Minimizes revisions and eliminates confusion about whether an individual handbook is the current version.
Book 1 is distributed only to stake, district, mission, and temple presidencies; bishoprics; and branch presidencies. However, other local leaders may have access to the information it contains as needed.
Book 2, which provides instructions on priesthood quorums, auxiliaries, programs, activities, leadership, and selected policies, is distributed to the leaders mentioned above and to stake auxiliary presidents, stake mission presidents, ward executive secretaries and clerks, high priests group leaders, elders quorum presidents, ward auxiliary presidents, and ward mission leaders.
In addition, 14 sections of Book 2 are published as individual booklets for leaders who need only those sections, such as counselors in quorum and auxiliary presidencies. Leaders and teachers who do not receive the entire Book 2 receive the “Gospel Teaching and Leadership” section, which gives broadly applicable instructions about strengthening families; helping share the gospel with others; teaching the gospel; leading in the Church; ministering to new members, less-active members, and members with disabilities; and participating in leadership meetings.
Each leader in the Church is encouraged to develop a scheduled plan to study the new handbook. Handbooks go with one’s calling and should be passed to one’s successor or leader upon release. Church distribution centers have been instructed to adhere strictly to the plan of distribution outlined in the handbook’s introduction. Additional copies may not be ordered at this time.
The Church Handbook of Instructions is the result of an intensive five-year project under the direction of a committee of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric. Each applicable Church organization reviewed the proposed handbook at least three times, and the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles resolved hundreds of questions resulting from those reviews.