LDS Church announces new 'ministering' program, replaces home, visiting teaching


Of the 116 highest-ranking church leaders serving in several tiers, 40 percent of them were born outside the U.S, said Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor to President Nelson, on Saturday.

A heckler reportedly interrupted the conference three times by shouting, "Stop protecting sexual predators!"

At the general conference, the large biannual gathering where the apostles were announced, leaders shared plans to build the church's first temples in India and Russian Federation.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans for seven new temples Sunday, including a location right here in Utah. Priests and teachers continue as companions to Melchizedek Priesthood holders.

Holland said the new ministering concept encourages members to follow the Lord's council to bear one another's burdens, mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and stand as witnesses of God. 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.

This new endeavor will be overseen jointly by the presidencies of a local congregation's elders quorum (adult men) and Relief Society (adult women).

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Expanding on this announcement later in the session, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said this change will help the Church's organizations for adult men (elders quorums) and adult women (Relief Society) harmonize their ministering efforts. He said most people were hoping for at best one new non-white leader, so the double selection will be welcomed with enthusiasm throughout the religion. He had served as a General Authority Seventy from April 3, 2010 until the time of his call to the Twelve.

"[These changes allow] quorum members of all ages and backgrounds to benefit from the perspective and experience of one another and of those in different stages of life", Elder Christofferson said.

The selections of Soares and Gong are likely to trigger applause from a contingent of Mormons who were eager to see the faith's global footprint represented in leadership. I can not adequately express how excited I am to contemplate the increasingly vital role that elders quorums will play in the future.

According to Gong's biography on the LDS Church news website, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian and university studies from Brigham Young University in 1977.

The new program focuses less on visiting people in their homes for formal lessons and more on making regular contact with and helping people, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained in a talk following Nelson's announcement. This elders quorum includes all elders and prospective elders in the ward and high priests not holding a calling that would include them in the stake level high priests quorum.