Several Church Changes Announced, Implemented During 2019

Dec 27, 2019, 9:49 PM | Updated: 9:50 pm
Flowers bloom near the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt ...
Flowers bloom near the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019. (Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)
(Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made several notable policy and organization changes during the 2019 calendar year.

The first Sunday in January was historic. For the first time, more than 16 million members spent two hours in worship services, rather than three. Church leaders call it a home-centered, church-supported approach to faith.

In April, church leaders updated a policy announcing that children of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents may be blessed as infants and later baptized as members of The Church of Jesus Christ.

Adam and Taylor Cash were married in November of 2018 and attend a ward in Lehi. They have been foster parents and are now adopting.

They spoke to KSL shortly after the April announcement.

“Yesterday, we found out that we have been chosen by a birth mom to adopt a baby,” said Taylor Cash. “The first thing I thought this morning was, someone can give our baby a blessing. The baby can grow up in the church.”

A long-running summer tradition in Utah ended in July.

After 53 years, the Manti Pageant had its final season. With 400 performances, more than 20,000 attended the last one.

“I’ve been feeling it for the last two weeks that we’ve been performing, knowing that this is the last time,” said cast member Lawrence Durtschi. “It’s very emotional because it means so much to us.”

“Fifty-three years is a long time to put your heart and your soul into something you felt strongly about,” said Manti resident Claudia Olsen.

As the lights dimmed on Temple Hill, the pageant became part of community and church history.

Days before the Church’s October General Conference sessions, President Russell M. Nelson announced another change. Women, boys and girls who are baptized church members may now be official witnesses at baptisms in chapels.

In temples, for baptisms for the dead, anyone holding a temple recommend may serve as a witness. This change also involves temple marriages, permitting any adult woman to be one of the two witnesses to a sealing.

During conference, church leaders outlined changes in programs for young women, ages 12 to 18.

“You have been set apart by one who has priesthood authority. This means that as you perform your duties you exercise priesthood authority,” said Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President.

Changes also included the elimination of Beehive, Mia Maid and Laurel names for different age groups. Young Women groups will now be determined by local leadership, based on local needs.

Also announced were changes for the Young Men groups, or Aaronic Priesthood, which leads to the way bishops and ward or congregational leaders assist them.

As a result of the new program for young men of the faith, The Church of Jesus Christ is ending its long relationship with the Boy Scouts of America on December 31.

A new Children and Youth program will replace existing activities for children and teens.

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Several Church Changes Announced, Implemented During 2019