LDS Church discontinues home and visiting teaching

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The LDS Church made resources available for the new ministering program at providentliving.lds.org. (Screenshot)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has discontinued its home and visiting teaching organizations, President Russell M. Nelson announced on Sunday afternoon.

“For months, we have been seeking a better way to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of our people in the Savior’s way,” President Nelson said. “We have made the decision to retire ‘home teaching’ and ‘visiting teaching’ as we have known them. 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. We all need such protection from the cunning wiles of the adversary.”

This was the second church organization discontinued during the 188th Annual General Conference. On Saturday night, President Nelson announced the restructuring its Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums. The changes are “part of a larger effort to simplify and improve the Church’s ministry,” according to a press release from the LDS Church.’

The new ministering program will be overseen by the presidencies of a local congregation’s elders quorum (adult men) and Relief Society (adult women). While home and visiting teaching required a home visit and monthly message, the new ministering does not include a set monthly message in the Church magazines nor prescribe a specific way of contacting assigned members of the congregation, such as face-to-face visits.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, helped explain the new ministering program in his conference talk.

“We 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 — in short, all of us, every one of us, because we all need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear a firm declaration of faith,” Elder Holland said. “Our prayer today is that every man and woman — and our older young men and young women — will leave this general conference more deeply committed to heartfelt care for one another, motivated only by the pure love of Christ to do so.”

Sister Jean B. Bingham, the Relief Society General President, listed a variety of ways ministering can be fulfilled: visiting in home, texting, dropping off a birthday card, sharing a scripture as well as other ideas.

“It looks like becoming part of someone’s life and caring about him or her,” Sister Bingham explained.

With the new ministering program, young women ages 14 to 18 will serve alongside Relief Society members, “just as young men their age serve as ministering companions to Melchizedek Priesthood brethren.”

“Youth can share their unique gifts and grow spiritually as they serve alongside adults in the work of salvation,” Sister Bingham said.

The LDS Church created a new page with materials to help local church leaders implement ministering at the earliest convenience. Learn more about the ministering program at providentliving.lds.org.

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Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages UtahValley360.com for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

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