‘Home-centered’ plan includes 2-hour church

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(Lexie Flickinger)
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks in the Saturday morning session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Cook announced a new, two-hour church block effective January 2019. (Lexie Flickinger)

Changes coming in January will launch a “home-centered” teaching initiative for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as was announced by President Russell M. Nelson in General Conference.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spelled out the logistics of this new initiative by announcing a new, two-hour church block while speaking in the Saturday morning session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference.

The announcement came following President Nelson’s remarks calling for a “new balance” between gospel instruction in the home and the church. He spoke 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.”

The new home-centered plan comes with a new curriculum resource, “Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families,” which children, youth and adults will begin using in January 2019.

Elder Cook then outlined the changes to the current church block, which will be implemented in January:

  • 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,” he said.
  • After sacrament meeting, church members will have 10 minutes to transition to classes, then 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 Sunday.
    • Fifth Sunday meetings will be under the direction of the bishop.
  • Primary will be held every week and will include singing time and classes.

Elder Cook gave four blessings and purposes associated with these changes: deepening conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; strengthening individuals and families; honoring the Sabbath day, with a focus on the sacrament; and helping all of Heavenly Father’s children on both sides of the veil through missionary work and temple work.

He said that “a powerful confirmation was received by all” as the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles sought revelation regarding these changes.

“We are confident that members will be blessed in extraordinary ways,” Elder Cook said. “The announcements made today will result in profound blessings for those that enthusiastically embrace the adjustments and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost.”

mormonnewsroom.org
The new Sunday meeting schedule for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes a 60-minute sacrament meeting, a 10-minute transition time and a 50-minute class which will rotate each week. (mormonnewsroom.org)

Elder David A. Bednar said these changes have one purpose: to strengthen faith in Heavenly Father and his plan and in his son Jesus Christ and his Atonement. The Sunday meeting schedule was not simply shortened, he said, and members now have both increased opportunities and responsibilities to use their time to enhance the sabbath.

“Please do not focus primarily on the logistical aspects of what has been announced. We must not allow procedural details to obscure the overarching spiritual reasons these changes now are being made,” he said. “Our only objectives are to facilitate continuing conversion to the Lord and to love more completely and serve more effectively our brothers and sisters.”

A First Presidency letter about the changes is being sent to the church’s 30,000-plus congregations worldwide, according to mormonnewsroom.org. It reads, in part, that the church has been working on these changes “for many years” and encourages “individuals and families to hold home evening and to study the gospel at home on Sunday — or at other times as individuals and families choose.”

The letter also contains an enclosure that addresses answers to common questions such as the new format for sacrament meetings and classes, how members will know what meetings will be held and what topics will be studied on Sundays.

In response to the question “Do we hold optional courses during church on Sunday?” the enclosure says the Gospel Principles class will be discontinued. Other courses such as temple preparation, missionary preparation, marriage preparation and family history will no longer be taught during the second hour but can be taught at other times based on local needs and at the bishop’s discretion.

Further, teachers will attend teacher council meetings quarterly during the 50-minute class time according to a schedule outlined in the enclosure: priesthood, Relief Society and Young Women teachers will attend on either a first or third Sunday, Sunday School teachers on either a second or fourth Sunday and Primary teachers on any Sunday. More than one council may be held each quarter for Primary teachers so not all teachers miss Primary classes at the same time, and they “may meet separately from other teachers to counsel about the unique needs of teaching children.”

In addition, the new curriculum “Come, Follow Me — For Individuals and Families” is available in print, at comefollowme.lds.org and in the Gospel Library app in 47 languages, according to mormonnewsroom.org.

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