Sunday, September 16, 2018

New Stakes Created in Argentina, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Utah; Stakes Discontinued in Ghana (Downgraded to Distrct) and Mexico (Downgraded to District)

The Church organized a new stake in Cordoba, Cordoba Province on September 2nd. The Córdoba Argentina Chacabuco Stake was organized from a division of the Córdoba Argentina North Stake (renamed Córdoba Argentina Patricio Stake), Córdoba Argentina Sierras Stake, and Córdoba Argentina West Stake. The new stake includes the following four wards and two branches: the Alta Córdoba, Córdoba Chacabuco, Jesús María, and Nueve de Julio Wards, and the Los Boulevares and Parque Liceo Branches. Given the small number of wards in the new stake, it appears that one or both branches may advance into wards, or a new ward will be organized in the stake from a division of one of the four wards. The Church in Córdoba Province has organized six new branches in the past three years and some branches in the province have also advanced into wards during this time. The Church completed its second temple in Argentina, the Córdoba Argentina Temple, in 2015. There are now six stakes in the city of Córdoba, and eight stakes and one district in Córdoba Province.

There are now 77 stakes and 29 districts in Argentina.

The Church organized a new stake in the Guayaquil metropolitan area on August 19th. The Samborondón Ecuador Stake was organized from a division of the Duran Ecuador North Stake, Guayaquil Ecuador Las Orquideas, and the Guayaquil Ecuador Pascuales Stakes. The new stake includes the following five wards: La Aurora, La Joya, Metrópolis, Pascuales, and Samborondón Wards. There are now 17 stakes in the Guayaquil metropolitan area.

There are now 40 stakes and 9 districts in Ecuador.

The Church organized a new stake in Central Region. The Assin Foso Ghana South Stake was organized on September 9th from a division of the Assin Foso Ghana Stake and the Yamoransa Ghana Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and six branches: the Abakrampa, Assin Achiasi, Assin Foso 1st, Assin Foso 2nd, and Paramu Wards, and the Abura Dunkwa, Asebu, Assin Akrofuom, Assin Anynabrem, Assin Darmang, and Assin Edubiase Branches. The new stake is the Church's third new stake organized in Central Region since 2015. There are now six stakes and two districts in Central Region.

Additionally, the Winneba Ghana Stake was discontinued following its division to create the Swedru Ghana Stake last month. This marks the first time in Church history that a stake has been discontinued in Ghana, albeit it is more accurate to state that the Church created a new district and no stake was discontinued given the administrative changes to stakes/districts in the Swedru/Winneba area. The Winneba Ghana District has five branches.

There are now 24 stakes and 11 districts in Ghana.

The Church organized a new stake in Haiti on September 9th. The Les Palmes Haiti Stake was created from a division of the Carrefour Haiti Stake and three branches previously assigned directly to the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission in the Jacmel area. The new stake includes the following three wards and three branches: the Leogane 2nd, Petit-Goave 1st, and Petit-Goave 2nd Wards, and the Jacmel, Meyer, and Tenier Branches. It appears information on which congregations assigned to the new stake, and which branches became wards, remains unavailable based upon information provided on the LDS meetinghouse locator site given there are currently only three wards reported in the new stake.

There are now five stakes and four districts in Haiti.

The Church organized a new stake in Ogun State, Nigeria on September 2nd. The Abeokuta Nigeria Ibara Stake was organized from a division of the Abeokuta Nigeria Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards and three branches: the Ibara, Ilewo-Orile, Lafenwa, Oke-Ata, Ope-Oluwa, and Rounda Wards, and the Ilaro, Obada-Oko, and Olomore Branches. The Church organized its first stake in Abeokuta in 2014. There are now two stakes in Ogun State - both of which are located in Abeokuta. There is also a district in Ogun State located in Ijebu-Ode which appears close to becoming a stake.

There are now 53 stakes and 16 districts in Nigeria.

The Philippines
Today the Church organized a new stake in the Philippines Cavite Mission. The Naic Philippines Stake was organized from the Naic Philippines District. Information on which of the eight branches have become wards in the new stake remains unavailable. With the organization of the new stake, the Philippines Cavite Mission becomes the first mission in the Philippines to be entirely covered by stakes.

There are now 105 stakes and 70 districts in the Philippines

The Church organized a new stake in the Vineyard area of Orem, Utah. The Vineyard Utah Grove Park Stake was organized from the Orem Utah Suncrest Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Suncrest 11th, Suncrest 12th, Suncrest 13th, Suncrest 14th, Suncrest 15th, and Suncrest 16th Wards.

There are now 594 stakes and one district in Utah.

The Church discontinued the Los Mochis Mexico Stake and reorganized the former stake as a district (Guasave Mexico District). There are six branches in the district. This is the eighth stake to be discontinued in Mexico in 2018 due to a significant restructuring of administrative organizations and congregations in Mexico designed to better utilize meetinghouse space, strengthen local leadership, and establish congregations with larger numbers of active members.

There are now 221 stakes and 45 districts in Mexico.


Unknown said...

The new YSA stake was organized today in Idaho Falls it takes in 5 wards and 3 branches I don’t know what wards but from my understanding it’s all of Idaho Falls and Firth that makes up the stake.

John Pack Lambert said...

Technically Vineyard is a separate city from Orem, although Church unit overlap is long standing and common. Until about 10 years ago all of Vineyard was in Orem named stakes.
Ogun State is the state immediately north of Lagos State and also part of the Yoruba Cultural region. With a second stake there, 6 stakes in Lagos and another not too far away in Ile-Iffe (which I may have spelled wrong) plus Ibadan makes it seem that Lagos is ready for a temple.

On another issue I was looking at the lads maps for the Democratic Repuublic of the Congo and it is shocking how large of areas have no church uhnit. For example Mbandaka with 350,000 does not have a branch, nor does is Equitorial Province with 1.6 million. In fact this is true of almost all the northern third of the country.

James Anderson said...

There has been a rebellion in that same area of late (BBC-reported) and one city had a small ebola outbreak (also BBC-reported) so they may be holding off opening some of those areas in DRC until particularly the militant skirmishes die down.

Nathan Porter said...

The Middleton Idaho East Stake was created today from a division of the Middleton Idaho Stake.

The Middleton Idaho East Stake includes the following 7 wards: Middleton 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 11th and the Black Canyon YSA wards (the Black Canyon YSA ward was advanced from a a branch in the same meeting).

The Middleton Idaho Stake retains the following 7 wards: Middleton 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th wards.

Johnathan Whiting said...


Eric S. said...

About a week ago I rode the FrontRunner train from Salt Lake to Provo and as the train was passing through Vineyard I was amazed at the amount of townhomes, apartments, and other buildings that are under construction. There was literally a massive section of homes being built up close to the tracks on both sides. Just under a decade ago there were only a few hundred people living in the area, but is now well over the 13-14,000 range. I imagine there will be many congregation and stake growth in that area in the coming years. It may also be a popular spot for YSA given the close proximity to UVU (especially when the planned train station is built), if not already.

James said...

Just a note on the Vineyard area. While it is true that there is a specific city named Vineyard, it technically falls under the Provo-Orem Metropolitan Statistical Area, so to refer to the city as part of Orem is not inaccurate.

I also wanted to provide a thought on Church buildings in general. I am not sure how it works elsewhere, but I know that here in the Orem Utah Geneva Heights Stake, with the 3 new wards that have been created within the last year or so, a common problem is that the size of many of the current chapels within our stake boundaries were not originally built to accommodate future growth. As a result, the ward to which I am currently assigned only shares our building with one other ward. And 3 of the 11 wards in our stake meet in buildings assigned to neighboring stakes.

But I also know that, because of the growth in the area which has resulted in the creation of the 3 new wards within the last year, some of the newer developments include land that might possibly have been held in reserve for chapels to accommodate future growth within the stake. If that is the case, then perhaps the three wards meeting in buildings of other stakes could be relocated there eventually.

This is mainly conjecture on my part, as I am not in any way privy to the discussions that have occurred about the recent growth in our stake, but it seems to be a sound conclusion, since whenever large land plots are in development here in Utah, there is generally a provision for future chapels as well.

The challenge of Church growth is in the fact that, as neighborhoods and communities grow, the Church has had to get creative at times in dealing with the immediate growth while planning for the future. I also know that in my parents' stake, when two of the wards were transferred to newer stakes, the members of those wards remained in the buildings to which they were assigned until the buildings of the newly-created stakes could accommodate moving them to newer buildings.

It is interesting to observe how that process is being handled. And that not only applies to stakes in the "Mormon corridor" in the United States, but also to areas such as the Philippines and the entire continents of South America and Africa. But it is a welcome challenge, I am sure, for a Church that is consistently being more widely embraced in such areas. Just a few additional thoughts, for what they might be worth.

Thanks to you all for the additional insights, including the news about the new stake in Idaho. It is humbling to observe the process whereby Church growth occurs all over the world. And, from what I hear, the Church is preparing more fully for future anticipated growth than ever before. It will be amazing to see such things as they continue to unfold. These are just a few additional thoughts, for what they may be worth to any of you. Thanks again.

L. Chris Jones said...

Probably All 4 Idaho Falls + 1Ucon YSA wards. And 2 Shelley + 1 Firth Branches.

L. Chris Jones said...

several years ago I was in a ward that shared a building with only one other Ward. One meeting at 9 and the other at 1. Because of the size of the parking lot there was no room for overlap between the two Wards. And therefore didn't really accommodate a third ward to share the building.

James Anderson said...

Gkt a branch creation too in TN from a Facebook post.

McMinnville TN stake
Lewisburg branch split off Shelbyville Ward
New branch transferred to Murfreesboro TN stake
16 September was the date this was done.

James said...

While I have no desire to veer this discussion off-topic (which is the creation of 7 new stakes while 2 others have been downgraded to districts), I wanted to provide a follow-up here about something that was previously discussed in another thread, and which has also been discussed on the ldschurchgrowth reddit. In those earlier discussions, the question was raised as to whether there were 6 or 10 areas in North America, given that the Church established 6 area presidencies for the US and Canada as of August 1 of this year.

There is currently a ballot initiative here in Utah which would legalize medical marijuana. The Church has joined a coalition whose members include doctors, friends of other faiths, and major politician in coming out against the wording of the current initiative because it fails to sufficiently regulate that substance, and because there are loopholes in the current wording which could justify illegal use of that substance.

My reason for mentioning this is that, among those representing the Church on the coalition is Elder Craig C. Christensen, who continues his role in supervising Utah. In all the materials published on and the Church News website, Elder Christensen has been referred to as president of the Utah Area (which is a singular term). The Church's biographies for both him and his two counselors use the singular term as well. In view of that, it appears that, at minimum, the 3 previously separate and distinct areas of Utah have been combined into a single area. That said, I have not yet been able to confirm whether or not the same applies to the other areas (Idaho, North America Central, North America Northwest, and North America West) that have previously been 4 separate areas, but may or may not have been similarly consolidated into 2 areas.

If there are now only 6 areas in North America, then that also signals some kind of change in the make-up of at least the 5th and 6th Quorums of the Seventy, since the Idaho Area seventies have been part of the 5th Quorum, while the North America Central Area seventies have been part of the 6th Quorum.

One other thought on this subject, if I may: From running the numbers, depending on if and how the make-up of the 5th and 6th Quorums have changed, those two Quorums, along with the 3rd and 4th, are all within 10-15 members of being at the limit of 70 within which additional Quorums of area seventies have been created. In view of that, and in consideration of creating further ease of travel for Quorum meetings, I could potentially see the Church adding one or two other Quorums for the area seventies of the Church. How exactly that might occur may be harder to determine. But the Church could potentially split those areas with the largest number of members (with Utah being one example) into a separate Quorum. If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them. I might start a separate thread on the reddit regarding this subject. Just wanted to mention all of this, for what it might be worth to those reading this comment.

Unknown said...

The Logan YSA 7th Stake was created today. It's made up of the Logan YSA 19th, 25th, 30th, 32nd, 43rd, 46th, and 52nd wards.

Thomas Jay Kemp said...

James: to your question of the potential additional Quorums of Area Seventies.

In 1975/1976, Elder Robert D. Hales, then an Assistant to the Twelve, spoke to a small group of us about missionary work in the New York, New York City Stake. The Stake President Victor B. Jex and about 2-3 others were there in the room. I was there as the NY-NYC Stake Seventy's President. We met in an office in the newly built Church building - which now houses the Manhattan New York Temple.

He said that the time would come when there would be 7 Quorums of the Seventy guiding/directing the work around the earth. (At that point - this had not yet been announced). He explained that as needs grew that there would be even more Quorums created - even 7 times that number of Quorums of Seventy to direct the work of the Church - to fill the need as the Church expands.

In 1975 - the First Quorum of Seventy was reconstituted.
In 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball announced that the calling of Assistant to the Twelve would be discontinued and these Brethren were sustained as members of the First Quorum.
In 1984 - the 2nd Quorum was organized.
In 1986 - the local Stake Quorums of the Seventy were discontinued.
In 1995 - the 3rd, 4th and 5th Quorums were formed - with Area Authority Seventy
In 2004 - the 6th Quorum of Seventy was created
In 2005 - the 7th & 8th Quorums of Seventy were created
(Source: Wikipedia)

James said...

Thomas, thank you for your comment on this issue. A few points of clarification: when the First Quorum of the Seventy was reconstituted in 1976, not only were the Assistants to the Twelve among the new members of the First Quorum, but the members of what had been the First Council of the Seventy were also included. The Second Quorum was not created until 1989, and was originally comprised of those who were serving for a period of a few years rather than to the age of 70. And although it is true that area authorities replaced regional representatives in 1995, if was not until two years later that the 134 men serving as such were ordained seventies. One of those originally sustained as such, as you may or may not know, was Elder David A. Bednar, who would be sustained 7.5 years later as an apostle, and he was the most recent man called to the apostleship without previously serving as a general authority.

Later on, with no public explanation given, the title of those serving as area authority seventies was shortened to "area seventies". The creation of the 6th Quorum in 2004 was a direct result of the number of area seventies in the 5th Quorum having exceeded 70. The creation of the 7th and 8th Quorums was more related to geographical convenience in enabling Quorum meetings to occur.

Then, beginning in 2015, the Church stopped publicly differentiating between those in the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy, altthough each GA Seventy is still assigned to one of those two quorums. By 2016, all general authority seventies were merely referred to by that generic designation. And now, the determining factor in the release of all GA Seventies is based somewhat on health, but mostly on when each man reaches 70. And in spite of the fact that we have had several general authority seventies either released prior to their 70th birthday (due to health) or serving up to 3 years beyond the age of 70, since 2010 or so, the general rule of the Church has been to release GA Seventies in the same year in which they turn 70.

I know that the scriptures speak of "seven times seventy", but many people confuse that as meaning there could never be more than seven Quorums of the Seventy with 70 members in each. The scriptural precedent (as found in the Doctrine and Covenants) whereby area seventies' Quorums were originally created provides for the creation of as many seventies' quorums as the work necessitates.

My comment above was more to explore the question of if and how the current 6 Quorums of area seventies could be split in the near future, given that 4 of those 6 Quorums (5th-8th) are within 5-15 members of having the maximum 70. And for area seventies living on separate continents (such as those in Europe and Africa, from which the membership of the 3rd Quorum is comprised), meeting as a Quorum may present a challenge.

So the question is not could the Church create additional Quorums for the area seventies (as the answer to that has always been "yes"), but how that might be done, if it is deemed necessary. I apologize if my comment above did not make that clear enough. Hope these clarifications aid in the discussion of that question. For those that would prefer a more in-depth discussion of this topic, I have opened that up as a new topic of the LDS Church Growth reddit feed. Thanks again to you all.

Eduardo said...

The history of "the seventy" has changed a bit over the years. My dad was one in the 1970s, and then that "stake" quorum was phased out. Stake, not ward, right? A bit like former stake missionaries.

James said...

I know that local Quorums of the Seventy were organized on a stake basis. I also know that, from the time local seventies were established as a thing (which first occurred in the early days of Church to when those stake quorums were discontinued) that those Melchizedek Priesthood holders within a certain age range were called as seventies. So that would be similar to the scenario of stake missionaries.

It is interesting to see the way that the organization of Quorums of the Seventy has changed and evolved over the years throughout the world. As I noted in my previous comment, we have even seen a shift within the last couple of years whereby the General Authority Seventies are still assigned to a specific Quorum, but those assignments are no longer publicly known. That in turn led to a shift to the more generic designation "General Authority Seventy", and the main determining factor in when any of these Brethren are now released seems to be their age and health rather than their terms of service.

As to area seventies Quorums, I have a feeling that the Church may at some point be streamlining the Quorum assignments of those Brethren, whether through shifting the make-up of the Quorums to make them more evenly distributed or (more likely) through creating one or two additional Quorums. With 4 of the 6 Quorums having at least 50 members, and one or two closer to 70, it could just be a matter of time before that happens.

While I would certainly not want to deviate from the discussion of other topics here, I wanted to note that I have recently published quite a bit of new content on my own blog. Latest posts have included reports on the ongoing ministry of our apostles, my responses to recent issues which have come up about the Church, a few more reports on temple construction progress, and the latest revision of my predictions for the upcoming General Conference. With my thanks to Matt for continuing to allow me to do so, I am again posting the address of my blog for anyone that would like to read and/or comment on that latest content.

My thanks again to Matt for allowing me to share such updates and for providing two great venues (these threads and the Church growth reddit) in which to have wide-ranging discussions relating to the growth and progress of the Church, and to all of you as well for contributing to the ongoing dialogue about those wide-ranging discussions.

Chris said...

The Church just announced the new Temple President called to serve for the new "Fortaleza Brazil" Temple, that is finishing construction.

Eric S. said...

That just leaves Arequipa, Rio de Janeiro, and Winnipeg for the temples that are still under construction. Next year is shaping up to possibly be a big year for temple dedications and re-dedications and hopefully groundbreakings, too. That will be in addition to the dedication of Concepcion and Barranquilla temples within the next three months and Rome early next year. Exciting things ahead!

James said...

Hey, Chris, Eric, and everyone else. Thanks for the ongoing dialogue on important developments within the Church. It is awesome that, within the last 2 months or so, the Church has announced the first presidents for all temples anticipated to be dedicated within the next 15 months have had their first presidents announced. But at least 3 of the 5 other temples anticipated to be completed next year have a long ways to go yet before they will likely have a dedication announced. That said, I could see the Church making the announcement of the dedications for those 5 temples within the next 8-10 months, but we may see one or two announced in the near future, perhaps over the pulpit in General Conference next month.

There are also a total of 5 temples that are anticipated to have their renovation conclude that will be set for rededication next year as well. 2 others (Oakland California and Asuncion Paraguay), at the time their renovations were originally announced, were anticipated to be rededicated next year as well. But the former is an older temple having a renovation done for the first time, and the latter closed almost a year ago but (as far as I can tell) has not yet had its' renovation process begin. And the Asuncion renovation was anticipated to take at least 18 months once it begins, so both seem more likely to be rededicated sometime in 2020.

James said...

As far as temples that may have a groundbreaking soon, when the artist's rendering was released for the Bangkok Thailand Temple, President Nelson was quoted as saying he didn't see any obstacles getting in the way of a groundbreaking for that temple. 8 months have come and gone since then, so I would anticipate that President Nelson may make an announcement about that temple's groundbreaking over the pulpit in General Conference, if that doesn't happen before.

Although the recent natural disasters which struck the Philippines may delay the potential groundbreaking for that temple, but the last thing I heard was that site clearing was going smoothly. An undisclosed project is under development in Saratoga Springs Utah, and the temple in that city may be part of that project. Designs continue to make progress. The Church may set the groundbreakings for both temples before the end of this year, or they could wait on either or both until early next year. And in conjunction with the release of the artist's rendering for the Pocatello Idaho Temple, it was noted that construction on that temple is anticipated to begin next year.

James said...

Since 2019 will almost entirely clear the current backlog of temples under construction and undergoing renovation, I can see next year as a big year for other groundbreakings as well. Whatever happens with the four announced temples I previously mentioned, the architect for the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple indicated in March 2017 that a year of pre-planning work would be needed before a groundbreaking would take place. Depending on if and when that year began, we could see that temple have a groundbreaking within the next year as well.

President Nelson spent time in Harare Zimbabwe looking at prospective temple sites, and since we heard that a groundbreaking has been anticipated for that temple for the last year or so, it may just be a matter of time before that actually occurs. A Church Public Affairs representative in Kenya indicated during President Nelson's visit that the site for the Nairobi temple had been selected, and that a smaller temple was anticipated to be dedicated in that city sometime during 2021. Sites have been confirmed for both the Brasilia Brazil Temple (with that site being inspected by Church engineers over a year ago) and for the second Manila temple (for which an official name may be announced any time now), so both of those temples may also have construction begin in the next year or less.

And I also know that the Church purchased land in Richmond Virginia three years before President Nelson announced a temple there last April, while land was procured by the Church for an undisclosed project in the Layton area a mere two days before General Conference. When the Bangkok Temple has its' groundbreaking, the temple in Abidjan will be the only one announced in 2015 which has not yet made progress. And the progress of other temples I mentioned would leave the Quito Ecuador and Belem Brazil Temples temples as the only other ones announced in 2016 that have not had a groundbreaking.

With President Nelson demonstrating his willingness to seek the will of the Lord and the abundance of the impressions he has reportedly received in the last 8 months since his call to be the prophet, I have no doubt that we will hear much more in General Conference in a couple of weeks about the extent, breadth, and scope of his plans to rapidly accelerate temple construction and bring temples to the people on a larger scale than we have ever before seen.

Some have theorized that the massive number of reported new hires to staff the temple department may mean an expansion of the crews currently assigned to the temples undergoing construction or renovation to accelerate the process of moving those temples closer to a dedication more quickly, but it seems more likely they will instead be mobilized to work on a rapid construction of smaller temples all over the world that can quickly go from announcement to groundbreaking to dedication. As I noted elsewhere, if the plan is to double or even triple the number of temples in a period of around 5-10 years or so, then we will almost certainly see a substantial increase in the amount of temple developments being reported on a weekly or monthly basis.

And, as others have observed, the Church also continues to renovate temples, so perhaps we will see other renovations announced in the near future as well. And any or all of these developments could be detailed more fully in General Conference in a couple of weeks, or we could continue to hear such developments announced any day of the weeks to come, but perhaps we could see many developments announced on a week-to-week basis.

I would have to go back into the history to verify this, but it seems like most of the major temple developments coming from the Newsroom on the Church website or from the Church News have been reported on a Thursday. So we might hear other major temple news in another week or two, or if not, then we will surely hear more details during General Conference, likely during President Nelson's opening, Sunday Morning, or closing address. It will be interesting to see.

James said...

Sorry for rambling on in so many comments, but I hope the information I shared is helpful and insightful to at least some of you. In the meantime, speaking of General Conference, I will continue to welcome comments on my blog about my predictions for the upcoming General Conference until Monday October 1, at which point I will need to make any final adjustments or alterations to those predictions before General Conference occurs that weekend. I would also welcome comments on any other posts I have done at any time anyone wants to offer such feedback. With my thanks to Matt for continuing to allow me to do so, the address of my blog again follows below. On the left side of my blog, I have indexed all the posts I have done on particular subjects, while the archives of my blog are on the right. If any of you have any feedback on that content, or have any questions about where to find anything, feel free to let me know here or there. Thanks again to you all, and I hope the information I have shared in these comments tonight is helpful to at least some of you.

Overview of rationale behind the content of my General Conference predictions:

Actual General Conference predictions (including thoughts about locations likely to have a temple announced:

Unknown said...

I was talking to one of my old roommates who is still in a ysa stack in Rexburg . He told me that Sunday there is going to be a we working of the stack and word boundaries. He didn’t know what is going on but he believes it could be a new stack.

James Anderson said...

Reworking ward boundaries and sometimes stake boundaries is common and is usually done before the school year starts in Provo. School is just starting in Rexburg so wanting to redo things close to the start of the school year makes sense, and with BYU-I's growth a new stake would not be out of the question as other than a marrieds stake it has been a bit of time since new singles singles stakes have been formed.

James said...

Just a general comment on how the Church determines changes in boundaries and leadership. Throughout the last year or so, I have noticed that the biographies of many General Authority Seventies note that they serve on what is known as the "Boundary and Leadership Change Committee." Whenever changes are deemed appropriate by general or local leaders, there is usually an approval process that occurs under the direction of that committee, who then submit the proposed changes to the apostles for final approval. Although I didn't fully understand that process for a long time, this is just another in the series of examples demonstrating that the Brethren do indeed keep themselves well informed on all facets relating to the work. That pattern was established in the early days of the Church, with the only difference being that, in modern times, the way that occurs has been adapted to accommodate the global scale within which the Church has been recognized, accepted, and established throughout the world.

Among the tweaks in that change of the established order is that area seventies serve as the main bridging force between general and local Church leadership, and that the Church has tweaked programs and policies to give local leaders more authority to deal to a greater degree than was previously done. And that has been a humbling process to observe. I can well remember reading about how, during President Spencer W. Kimball's prophetic administration, it was common for the counselor leading the sustaining in which contrary votes were noted to invite those so voting to meet with an apostle. Given that the membership of the Church is more than double now what it was back then, for an apostle to meet directly with all of those casting a negative vote would be impractical, if not impossible, and that responsibility has since been delegated to stake presidents.

James said...

So many people have commented lately that if the apostles had more of a hands-on role in directing the affairs of the Church as was done in the 1830s and 1840s when the Church was first restored (through such things as speaking personally with dissenting voters or when apostles were sent out to preside over missions or even serve actively as missionaries), then many of the problems the Church membership faces worldwide would likely be more easily dealt with.

But it is a blessing to observe how the Lord, through his apostles and prophets, has placed more trust in and responsibility for local or regional matters with local or regional leaders. Not only does that allow those in whom that trust and responsibility has been placed to grow, but such leaders would also be in a better position to understand whatever those expressed concerns might be, since some of those concerns might have been discussed in earlier interviews.

The "chain of command" remains the same, as the apostles have the ultimate right and responsibility to approve any changes in doctrine, policy, unit composition, or decide any other Church matter, but by trusting local and regional leaders with more responsibility that they once had, in some ways, the ministry of leaders on any level has the power to have the same kind of impact in such locales or regions as does the ongoing worldwide ministry of those we sustain in any general Church leadership role.

Just as another note on a slightly-unrelated thought, unless I have been missing some major things before this year began, it seems as though lately the Church News and the Newsroom on the official Church website have been focusing more and more articles lately on the ongoing ministry efforts and good works done by the women of the Church (including those serving as female auxiliary leaders) than was previously detailed or published prior to President Nelson's prophetic administration. I have heard some express their public opinion that the Brethren of the Church do not emphasize or value the service and contributions of the women of the Church enough, but the fact that more of these stories have been reported with increased frequency in the 8 months so far of President Nelson's prophetic administration should be a clear indicator of how important such efforts are to the Brethren of the Church.

Sorry for the long-winded comment, but these are just some thoughts which have been on my mind lately. Thanks again to you all for your ongoing contributions to the dialogue of such subjects. I always appreciate the discussions we have here, and I hope that my contributions to such topics, such as they are, are helpful to at least a few of you. And thanks again to Matt for continuing to allow us to cover such a wide span of topics in both the threads of this blog and on the newly-established Church growth reddit.

John Pack Lambert said...

The only melchizedek priesthood quarum that has ever existed at the ward level was the elders quorum. However the seventy would meet as a group in ward priesthood meeting just as the high priests did. My father was also a local seventy, and when my grandfather was called as a missionary in 1941 he was ordained a seventy before leaving on his mission, which was at the time soemwhat common from what I understand.
We had stake conference this last week. Elder Dykes, the visiting general authority, suggested we pay attention in general conference because more changes were coming.

He also had my old bishop (from my ward before I got married) come up during leadership meeting and asked him some questions. One was if he had ever considered having laurels go with the priests when they give the sacrament to shut ins and having them sing an opening hymn. His answer was no but he didnt see any reason it could not be done.

The Opinion said...

I just read on the Fort Meyers Florida Facebook page that they split the stake and created the Naples Fl Stake. Elder Neil A Anderson was presiding.

James said...

John Pack Lambert, thank you for clarifying the way the local seventies' quorums met. All I have based my comments on that subject has been what I have read, rather than anything I have personally seen or heard of. Interesting that Elder Dyches presided at your stake conference and noted that more changes were coming. His biography on the Church website notes that he is currently serving as one of the Assistant Executive Directors in the Temple Department and as the chairman of the Restoration and Cancellation Committee.

If he was speaking based on his service with the Temple Department, that more or less confirms what has been heard lately about President Nelson's plans to massively accelerate the process whereby temples are announced, have a groundbreaking, undergo construction, and are dedicated. As we also know that President Nelson has been woken up in the middle of the night more frequently with several spiritual impressions since his ordination as prophet 8 months ago (many of which he acts on right away, and some of which appear to be instructions for things that are coming in the future), I am certainly excited for whatever temple news might be announced in a couple of weeks.

But there are likely other things he will be setting in motion. We are almost certainly going to hear more about the statement President Nelson issued on the name of the Church. It is also probable that some addresses could focus on more information about the new initiative for youth and children that will become effective at the beginning of 2020. I still see the possibility that President Nelson, having restructured Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums last April, may potentially announce a similar restructuring of the Area Seventies' Quorums of the Church.

On the issue of whether a Laurel could accompany a Priest when they give the sacrament to home-bound individuals, and whether singing an opening hymn would be appropriate, Elder Dyches obviously saw that as an option. I know that, in general, when I would take the Sacrament to shut-ins in my ward, my bishop(s) at that time stressed the importance of having at least one other Aaronic Priesthood holder there, as a second witness that the Sacrament was being administered correctly in that situation.

But that is not to say that Laurels couldn't also accompany the young men in that situation and that a hymn would be inappropriate. Given that the Church is giving more focus to and emphasis on the ministry efforts of women in the Church, that might be a logical next step.

The Opinion, thanks for the news of the creation of the Naples Florida Stake. The apostles surely do a lot of extensive travel, and it is good to see that, in the storm-weary southern United States, new stakes continue to be created.

Thanks again to you all for the ongoing dialogue and discussion, and to you, Matt, for these posts and for allowing such discussions to be wide-ranging.

John Pack Lambert said...

The new president for the Forteleza Temple was just announced. He is from Sao Paulo, has been an area seventy, mission center president, and mission president in Brazilia. Before he retired he worked full-time as a translator for the Church of Jesus Christ.

John Pack Lambert said...

Well the Church has begun to announce about the new program for older children and youth. As many of us suspected it will involve camping and outdoor activities. This is basically taking the boy scout program worldwide, minus unifroms and cumbersome outside administration. OK, it is more complex than that, and I am not sure I understand it yet. Here is a Deseret News article related to it, complete with a link to a video in part featuring President Nelson.

The Opinion said...

From a Facebook page I follow, Elder Holland was at the Aspen Stake Conference (Utah or Colorado, not sure) and said if you like temple building then you better show up to conference. This is a church on the move! He also alluded that the name of the Church will be further discussed.

From my in laws who serve in the church service missionary department at the Church HQ mission, they mentioned that some announcements will be coming out during conference about church missionary work which I understood about full time missions but it could be member missionary work.

When I visited them in the Church HQs and waited for them to church into street clothes, I saw posted on the wall a large blueprint for the online missionary department of the many ideas they will be piloting and testing around the world for member missionary work. The blueprint was 7 feet high and about 20 feet long. All of it centered around using technology to accelerate the work. Some of the ideas were "Wowsers!" and some were "well that makes complete sense"

I have read about many other possible changes but it is not more than speculation.I do, however, believe that this conference will have more changes than the previous conference!

Exciting times we live in where we are having this large amount of revelation coming to the prophet and Twelve concerning the amount of change needed to accelerate the work as the Lord desires.

Matt said...

The Opinion-

Can you please share the link on this blog or send me an email this information? I'd like to be able to confirm this.

James Anderson said...

The Mormon Light blog posted about some things, including referring to the President Oaks meeting with young marrieds and newlyweds. Haven't got a URL but that may even be on the site from the home page, some things are coming there based on that.

A phrase being tossed around by apostles and others as well as others is 'like a snowflake in a snowstorm', heard again just today based on a Facebook comment I saw, and the snowflake was what we heard in April, the snowstorm (or even blizzard as one apostle said) is as early as this next conference.

James said...

Hello, John Pack Lambert. Although both the announcement of the first president for the Fortaleza Brazil Temple and the additional details on the Church's new initiative which will replace all youth and Primary activity programs beginning in 2020 were both made a couple of days ago, it is wonderful to see the enthusiasm surrounding such announcements. I know that many have expressed their hopes that the announcement of presidents for all temples anticipated to be dedicated sometime next year means that these temples could be completed sooner than anticipated. But unless the purpose of hiring new personnel for the temple department includes adding to the work crews on existing projects (which may or may not be feasibly done), then the general estimates last offered in the sources I have available may not be altered that much.

As for the activity program, it is wonderful to see the Church moving towards more that will allow all members of the same age groups throughout the world to have the same opportunities and guidelines in their activity. Although I cannot speak for others on this board in terms of the experiences they had in youth and Primary groups, I know that when I became an Aaronic Priesthood holder, one of my main obligations in those presidencies was to contribute ideas for activities. Our leaders always made sure that our Scouting requirements were an important focus of such meetings, but it seems that the leaders of the ward recognized growth opportunities for youth presidency members and thus gave them more leeway in what was planned over the year.

In the course of that planning, being out in natural settings was a HUGE part of the discussion, and in a day when technology is running the world on a larger scale than before, it is nice to know that outdoor activities will be included in the details of the new initiative, which will surely be explained more fully over the next 2-3 General Conferences before it goes into effect.

James said...

The Opnion: Great to hear Elder Holland confirm what has been said by other Church leaders. Whatever President Nelson's plans are, they may be unprecedented. Someone on one of the threads of my blog mentioned a stake conference they had recently where the presiding GA was Elder Timothy J. Dyches, who serves in the Temple Department, and he reiterated what others have said about how the Church will accelerate temple construction and greatly expand the number of temples, starting this General Conference.

As for an expansion of missionary work (either by making changes to full-time missions or by providing increased opportunities for service missions), I know that there have been persistent whispers about that since the last General Conference. Many on my blog have shared their opinion that major changes are coming to the number of missions and the way the Church does missionary work. I am torn on what to believe in that regard: Unless I have missed something, it has been somewhere around 20 years or so since the Church last announced major changes in the number and size of missions worldwide outside of the usual changes announced during the first quarter of the year, which then become effective the following July. I haven't done the research, but it seems that it has been quite a while since anything big has changed with the number and size of missions outside of that usual time.

But there have, as there has also been noted, numerous reports from President and Sister Nelson about how he has increasingly been woken up in the night with impressions about what the Lord wants done in His Church in the near and more distant future. Sister Nelson particularly described several nights when she got the impression that she needed to get right out of bed and give her husband time alone to write those thoughts down. At such times, she shared that he comes out about 1-2 hours later and tells her that the Lord has told him what he needs to do.

We saw him respond to unexpected impressions recently in the announcement of the temple in Bengaluru India (which was not originally anticipated by anyone, including President Nelson himself), and with the Lord's distinct impression: "Go to the Dominican Republic", which he obeyed right away the next weekend.

So if we add all of this up, then perhaps we will see several developments, both those that seem obvious to us, and many others that will surprise us, over the next several General Conferences. I have often expressed the fact that President Nelson is, as the second-oldest man to ever serve as Church president, as healthy as he is primarily because he not only knows the reasons keeping oneself healthy is important, but he also has the gospel-centered perspective enabling him to be disciplined enough to act on such knowledge. Although he turned 94 two weeks ago today, everyone who travels with him have reported seeing him with the energy, vitality, and mental clarity of one who is 20-30 years younger than that.

Last April, as Elder Andersen spoke in General Conference, he expressed the hope he and his Brethren of the apostleship has: that President Nelson will be around for the next decade or two. As recently as earlier this year, I would have said that might not be possible. But after reading the accounts of his ministry and of those who travel with him, I am now convinced that a decade or two may be the minimum amount of time he will be sticking around, rather than a maximum.

James said...

As I also observed elsewhere, President Nelson has, right out of the gate, showed a willingness to do the will of the Lord, to receive and promptly act on revelation that comes his way, and shown himself to be at least as healthy as any Church president we have seen since the early years of President Hinckley's administration. And he has already demonstrated that his presidency will be in the mold of echoing President Hinckley's expressed invitation to the world: "Bring all the good you have, and let us see if we can add to it."

With that in mind, no potential development may be off the table in terms of what could occur in October. Surely we will see more talks about President Nelson's statement on the name of the Church. We will also likely here much more about the extent, length, and breadth of the temple-expansion plans. Based on the increased comments and rumors running around in public forums such as this, there may be some additional changes ahead for the missionary program, whether for full-time, Church service, or both programs.

James said...

And given that, depending on how many area seventies are released (and new Brethren sustained as such) during the Saturday Afternoon Session, there could be a significant restructuring of the Area Seventies Quorums. As I mentioned elsewhere, I have personally verified that the entire state of Utah, which has been three separate areas, has now been consolidated into a single Utah Area. But I don't know whether that also applies to the Idaho & North America Central and North America Northwest & West Areas (since those previously-separated 4 areas now have 2 area presidencies).

If those areas have likewise been consolidated, and if that changes the composition of current area seventies Quorums in any way, that means that those two Quorums, along with the 3rd and 4th Quorums (which all have numbers in the low-to-upper 50s) are close enough to 70 that splitting them makes sense.

The Church has seemed to move more in the direction of reducing and simplifying the work. Over the last several General Conferences, only a handful or two have seen a massive number of area seventies released. For the most part, the announcement of new area seventies have exceeded the number of releases about 4:1 (though I would have to double-check that figure). So if further expansion of the number of area seventies will take place (to reduce and simplify the load for other men serving in that same capacity in the same areas of the Church), or if the Church continues to see more area seventies called than released, a redistribution of the Church's area seventies through one or two extra Quorums may make that more feasibly done.

James said...

But quite honestly, one of the many things I am most excited for is the Women's Session. My wife and I have had a tradition in the last several years of watching both that session and the Priesthood Session here at home together. I know that last year, when the Church-wide schedule for 2018 was announced, the Priesthood Session was only set to go for 1.5 hours. But for the first time in many years, that Session lasted the full 2-hour period that it usually takes up. The Women's Session, by contrast, ran between 75-90 minutes when it was held the week before the other sessions.

I have a couple of thoughts on that. From what I have heard about those working in the TV and radio industries, it is easier for schedulers to reserve the same amount of time for every event every time (which also applies to Church broadcasts) but to have material ready to fill in any time, if that is needed. With that in mind, it would make sense to me if the Church opts to have the Women's Session run 2 hours as well (which would also place greater emphasis on the importance of consolidating the sessions).

And if the Women's Session runs the full 2 hours, I have a hard time believing that there will only be what has traditionally been four speakers (one from each female-led auxiliary presidency, and one member of the First Presidency). I am predicting that the full First Presidency will continue to speak in the Saturday night session every six months as has been tradition. What I don't know is whether or not any other male leaders (such as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve) might be asked to speak as well.

Typically, the Church has just had the First Presidency, the three members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the Presiding Bishop (the latter four of whom advise the female-led auxiliaries) in attendance at that session. But would the Church have all General Authorities in attendance at this session, since it is now a part of the "traditional" two-day weekend each October.

There is a lot to think about going into this General Conference, and I cannot wait to see what the Lord will reveal through his prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. I hope that the thoughts I shared in response to the latest comments here are helpful to at least some of you.

And I would again like to share a link to my blog, on which I have been and will continue to be posting ongoing developments leading up to and during General Conference. Particularly, I am trying to get a feel for whether or not I need to change anything on the predictions I have put together for the upcoming General Conference. For anyone who wants to comment on those posts, your feedback would be welcome. My thanks to Matt for allowing me to comment so extensively and for permitting me to share such updates here. And my thanks again to you all for your ongoing contributions to my understanding of Church news, developments, and growth.

James said...

James Anderson, I saw your comment after I began publishing my lengthy one that I had to split into several shorter ones. Sorry to all of you for my excessive commenting. The report of President Oaks' visit to the young married couples of the Church was published on the Church News website, the main "News and Events" page and the official Newsroom (the latter two of which are found on President Oaks mentioned to the group (which hailed from 7 California stakes, if memory serves) that the First Presidency was aware of the demands the Church has periodically placed on the time of newly-married couples, and that "preliminary steps" were being made to combat the issue, with "more information" coming down the pike "in the coming months". So whatever it was to which President Oaks was referring is another huge prospective announcement. As I mentioned in my many comments above, the universal word from those apostles and other leaders who are involved in day-to-day interactions with President Nelson is that we may be entering yet another unprecedented time, when each General Conference could be historic in its' own right for the number of revelations the Lord, through President Nelson, will convey to the membership of the Church.

Much like the storms that have battered various world areas, we may be in for a whirlwind of revelation, and it will be wonderful to see it unfold. As I noted above, President Nelson has been said by some to be as healthy, vigorous and vitally fit right now as any prophet we have seen in the last 20 years or longer. No matter how long he may be with us, I am sure the Lord has lots in store to reveal which, for various reasons, may have had to be pushed back as first President Hinckley and then President Monson (5-6 years later) had to slow down due to old age and increased health issues.

That is not to say that both of those two did not keep the work moving forward in their advancing years, because they did, to the best of their ability. But President Nelson at 94 is more healthy than most men in their mid-60s-late 70s, so he will be very much about doing what the Lord wants done for as long as he can, which may indeed prove to be a decade or two. It will be exciting to see.

James Anderson said...

The President Oaks story I mentioned is on, a Facebook post in the last few minutes turned up the link.

James said...

Thank you, James Anderson! I had seen the article when it was first published. I wonder what the plans involve, exactly. For that matter, based on everything said recently by general Church leaders and in various other outlets, it may indeed be another historic General Conference for more reasons than we might yet realize. I am excited for it more than ever now.

Eric S. said...

I mentioned this over on the temple prediction post, but given the posts by Opinion and James about what Elders Holland and Dyches have said I think it is worth mentioning again. From late August to early September, Elder Bednar was in Mexico holding conferences and meetings with members and missionaries across the northern/central part of the country. (

One of those meetings was with the missionaries in the Mexico City MTC. A missionary in the MTC at the time is someone I know from one of my previous wards. He mentioned in his email that one of the things Elder Bednar said in his remarks was the remarkable number of temples that currently (or are in the planning stages) dot the Earth. He then said "If you think that's a lot... stay tuned."

Based on all these comments, I think it is safe to say that something (potentially big) is in the works for temples. Whatever the details are and whether or not it is fully announced in two weeks or gradually rolled out over several months/years, it will be exciting to see along with what ever other things may be announced at conference!

As James mentioned, it has been incredible to see and hear the amount of revelation that President Nelson has received and acted on since he has become Church President (and it hasn't even been a year yet!). This is certainly an exciting time and the Lord is moving His work forward in ways that we may not fully comprehend or understand yet. We all have an important part in this work.

James said...

Eric, thank you. On the matter of temples, I have heard that not only could the plan involve again doubling the number of those in operation, but it may even be to triple that number, or do more than that. The odds are looking more likely that, whatever else might be announced, and however long it takes to unfold, we are almost certain to hear more about what those plans involve and entail in one of the three usual times a Church president speaks (regardless of when else that occurs, at minimum, I would anticipate that we will hear from our prophet at the beginning of the Saturday Morning Session, and at the end of both the Sunday Morning and Sunday Afternoon Sessions, though I would also anticipate he will speak in the Women's Session, regardless of whoever else might do so). So at the beginning or end of the conference may be the optimal time to unfold those plans.

This brings up another interesting question. For the first time since October 2014, we will (barring anything unexpected) hear from a prophet speaking 3 or 4 times at a typical length. How might that impact the layout of the rest of the conference, particularly however many other speakers will address us in each session? I have offered theories on that on my own blog, but would welcome any thoughts from anyone else on this. The General Conference held last April was considered the most historic in recent memory. If that proves to be the case again for the next 2-3 General Conference, who knows where the Church will be within that time? It will be exciting to see, for sure.

Cory said...

Another piece of evidence that has not been mentioned on this blog yet, is the from President Eyring at Safeco field:

"...But as the church moves to every nation and people and in the last days, we can expect and take joy in NEW MESSAGES coming from God through the prophet... The Gospel will not change, but we will need personal revelation to feel the hand of the Lord when PRACTICAL WAYS of doing things are CHANGED by the Lord through his prophet. It will also take personal revelation in order to see that a NEW WAY of doing things IS BETTER than the things we have ENJOYED."

That last phrase signals to me that perhaps some of the changes coming will not be popular to the many in the church, or that it will take time to adjust.

James said...

Cory, that is a great quote. Thank you for sharing it. Church leaders have always said that what is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right. The Lord also said that in the last days, many of even the very elect might be deceived. We have also been told before that, as the last days progress closer to the Savior's Second Coming, the gap between the doctrines, principles, and practices of the Church and the attitudes expressed by the world would be more at-odds with each other.

I know that many people expressed that they found the idea of "ministering", as it began being implemented last April, stupid and missing the mark. I also know that there has, as I recently noted on my blog, been more public support for those who have been excommunicated by the Church. Many people seem to think that if anyone dares to think differently about an issue than the official policy and practice of the Church, that will be an automatic excuse or rationalization for leaders on any level to throw out those with whom they do not see eye-to-eye.

But the bigger issue is that, in almost all of these recent cases where a member espousing a certain cause was excommunicated, that action was driven because such individuals assumed and asserted that their thoughts, ways, ideas, and opinions were higher than those proclaimed by the Lord or His servants. Anytime anyone assumes that they know better than those authorized to speak for and in behalf of the Lord, that becomes a slippery slope.

James said...

That is why I have been more vocal lately (both on this board and on my own blog) about how much each of us needs to obtain our own witness that the things that have been and will yet be decided, determined, and announced have been made in accordance with the mind and will of the Lord, as that is expressed through those He has called to serve as prophets, seers, and revelators.

All of us have both the opportunity and the obligation over the next couple of weeks to prepare ourselves for the upcoming General Conference. Part of that process for me has always been praying that the Lord's will will be made manifest in what is said, taught, and announced, and that I will know in the moment when such things occur that it is the will of the Lord. And when I have done that, I don't have to ask after the fact if the Lord's will has been done, and if His words have been spoken. Because of the preparation process, I know in the moment that this is the case.

Our leaders have made it clear that they are just as much human and prone to mistakes as anyone else in the world, and it is humbling to see the process whereby their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas are swallowed up in the will of the Lord, as they move themselves towards conveying the messages the Lord would have them share, which are the messages that the Lord Himself would share with us if He were speaking in General Conference instead.

If any of us have such a witness, then we never need to ask when the apostles are speaking as Special Witnesses of the Savior and when they are just speaking as regular people. In many of the reports which have been published about the ongoing ministry of the apostles, one common element is that people say they see the mantle of the apostleship upon these Special Witnesses of Christ. I have been in a room a few different times when an apostle speaks, and I know that the Lord has helped them prepare the messages they have felt impressed to share. And that extends to anytime new policies and practices are announced.

Each General Conference can be historically-significant for each one of us as individuals if we prepare our hearts to receive His words. The Lord has told us that when we are prepared for such occasions, we will know that the words spoken do come from Him, and that we will be blessed for following the counsel that is given. The changes that have come or may come may not be popular, but if we are prepared for whatever comes, the only opinion that will matter is that the Lord has sanctified and put His stamp of approval on what is ahead. And that is both comforting and humbling to consider.

John Pack Lambert said...

One of the missionaries in my branch was discussing changes they think might come. He seems to think the Church may soon go to 5 week transfers for missionaries. I remember when they were 4 week transfers. I am not sure such a change would even be mentioned in general conference.

I have to admit that I feel bad that as Sunday School president I have not yet come to understand the new Sunday School manuals for adults next year.

I think we will see something that gives young women more clear roles in the Church. We saw that with adding them to ministering, but I think we will see more.

On the other hand I really lack a good sense of what we will see change.

I did notice that in the most recent directives on two deep adults present with youth classes it went from "leave the door open and have a primary leader floating near by" to "if you can't have two leaders, combine classes."

Other than Elder Cook's passing mention of "non-consensual immorality" there was little mention of the huge storm around sexual abuse that we are in the midst of. I wonder if there may be a talk on that subject. Part of me wonders if the Church will give out a directive that when people are excomunicated for sexual abuse of children it should be made more publicly known than in the past, but maybe not.

Just not having priesthood meeting will be a major change.

Beyond that I have very little sense of what may be changed.

While people often focus on Church history by looking at major changes like ending the priesthood restriction or going to a unified meeting schedule, many other changes are more incremental. The shift from having most missionaries being married men who left their families behind to mainly young unmarried men with some young unmarried women and a few senior couples was a gradual one that took decades to fully complete.

Policies on unit size in respect to priesthood holders, active members and other such factors are normally implemented over the long run.

Even with the changes we have seen under President Nelson, they often follow from changes done under President Monson. The announced decision this year to leave BSA was quite possibly a continuation of decisions at least half made last year with the withdrawal of older boys, and back in 2015 the Church outright said it was working on a new worldwide program.

The decision to have a new hymnal may have been put over the top by President Nelson's deep connection with music, and also his vision of a unified worldwide Church. However if it was the preparation for the June announcment probably began no earlier than January, and I would be surprised if we see a new hymnal as early as 2021. January 1, 2020 is the earliest, and with a June 2019 submission deadline, I highly doubt that date will be made.

James said...

Hello, John Pack Lambert. To provide my response relating to what you said above, here's what I know: The hard thing about determining anything that might be coming down the pike is the none of us who comment here (AFAIK) are privy to the conversations and discussions going on at Church headquarters. This means that the conclusions we reach are largely more dependent on what we hear than what any of us might know or personally think. A few additional thoughts:

Many people have said relating to potential changes in the missionary program that there could be another age decrease (for young women) or that a new program would be instituted to better prepare young missionaries to serve before they go out into the field. Others have said we could see a substantial increase in missionaries and missions. But my one problem with that theory is that the Church has generally announced any mission creations or consolidations during the first of the year. I know that one recent exception was announced a year or two ago, when the Church assigned all its' missionaries serving in Salt Lake City to the Church Headquarters Mission. Aside from that, all other major changes in mission boundaries, including new mission creations and consolidations, usually are announced in the spring and become effective on July 1.

With the Sunday School curriculum, since a home manual was released, the aim seems to be to better prepare all of us to participate in the lessons each week. As I understand it, the Sunday School curriculum has been rewritten to place lesson emphasis on learning more about the Savior from each course of study. We have long been told that the purpose of the scriptures is to bring us closer to the Savior, and His words and teachings, expressed to and through His prophets in the scriptures, are more of a central focus for the new curriculum.

That is what I gather from what I have heard and read about it so far. But the actual manuals for next year should be available for purchase or online viewing within the next week or two. As I understand it, the way the curriculum has been redone, it speaks for itself, and creates more of an opportunity for classroom dialogue, rather than having a teacher just try to get through the assigned material.

Several people have commented on how the Church could (and should) give more roles in the Church to women, but many people do not seem to realize that no major decision made at any level in the Church comes without input from women. I have recently commented on the fact that since President became Church president, there have been a lot more articles published highlighting the day-to-day ministry of women in the Church. In short, I don't think that there is a lack of women's involvement in the Church. Rather, I feel that perhaps not enough is being publicly said about their contributions. We are gradually seeing the tide turn in this regard.

Many people have said that Church leaders have not been clear enough in denouncing the behavior that has led to many individuals being subject to disciplinary procedures, or in calling out evil in the world for what it is. But the Church leaders have focused on what the Lord expects of each one of us, so, by extension, anything that is not specifically mentioned is clearly displeasing to the Lord. In recent talks about transgression and repentance, Church leaders have made it abundantly clear what is right and what is wrong. Because the Church is politically neutral, it is a rare thing indeed for the controversial conduct of any individuals to be called out by name over the pulpit. Why should that be necessary? All of us should know what's right and wrong. Church leaders have made a habit of releasing official statements when asked to weigh in on the actions of the individual members thereof, but if there is a lack of understanding about what is acceptable and what is not, that is hardly the fault of Church leaders for not being specific or straightforward enough.

James said...

In terms of changes, both incremental and monumental, I share your feelings that there is little or no way to know how much of what was implemented last conference was under study and whether or not President Monson just did not have the health or mental clarity to approve such things. That said, any way it is considered, the Church has continued to evolve with the changing times. The doctrine and principles of the Church have not been altered, as has been noted, but rather, the procedures, policies, and programs have been tweaked on an as-needed basis.

As I said, no one aside from those privy to the discussions occurring at Church headquarters have any idea what might be coming down the pike. That said, many of the things that occurred in General Conference last April were "leaked" or "speculated about" before they were officially announced.

But until General Conference actually occurs, all any of us can do is analyze what we hear, and what we know, and make conjectures based on those things. Nothing is official until it is officially announced either over-the-pulpit, or in official sources that have been sanctioned or supported by the Church. The rest is all speculation.

With that noted, I have heard an increasing number of comments about something big coming for General Conference, and most of those center on an acceleration of temple building and an increased number of temples being announced. Many of those kinds of comments have been traced back to various general leaders who know what's coming.

The theory about changes to missions and the missionary program seems to be based on second-hand reports not directly connected to anything said in public by any leader, which leaves those in doubt.

But my reason for venturing the idea that a restructuring of the area seventies' Quorums could be down the line is that 3 (or 4) of the 6 Quorums currently have within 5-20 members of a full 70. Part of the challenge of a global Church could be that, given distances involved or other factors, it may be difficult for area seventies' Quorums to meet as often as needed to be trained.

Either way, whatever occurs during General Conference, I will gladly accept and embrace such developments. Hope these additional thoughts, for what they are worth, may be helpful to all who read them.

James Anderson said...

The missionary changes that may come may not be of the variety some may think, but rather could involve technology. Someone went to pick up someone they knew who was doing Church service mission work at CHQ and where they were waiting they saw on the wall a 'blueprint' like poster the size of a smaller green freeway overhead sign, that had some of the things they were thinking about. He said some had a serious 'wow factor', while the rest were 'makes perfect sense'. He did not elaborate on what was otherwise detailed.

The spacing of mission transfers usually is 4-6 weeks and is set up based on when new groups of missionaries for that mission leave an MTC and those who are finished can go home at the same time. It is a practical thing, one that really is more difficult to work around given all the other needs relating to training and releasing missionaries.

L. Chris Jones said...

I wonder if there are going to be more options for senior missionaries. Maybe even using technology to serve from home. This can be like a ward or stake mission. Also a few years ago I thought I heard that ward buildings were to open during the day with missionaries staffing them. I don't think I've seen this happen yet. However we are living in exciting times.

L. Chris Jones said...

I wonder if there will be an online member missionaries program similar to the online indexing program. That could allow more people to be involved, including some "shut-ins" who can put in 1 or more hours a week but can't get out of the house. I think I've seen has lot more excitement for this conference than I've seen on a long time.

James said...

Whatever might actually occur, it is almost certain to be another historic conference. As I said previously, the thing I am hearing most about is plans to rapidly expand the number of temples around the world. But whatever comes, I will be excited to have it all detailed in around 1.5 weeks. What a marvelous age we live in, where the Church is adapting policies and practices for a changing world, but where Church leaders have made it clear that the doctrines and principles of the Church will never change.

Eric S. said...

Chris, the "open ward buildings staffed by missionaries" was something that was mentioned during a special mission conference that was broadcasted around the world in summer 2013. It was after the initial surge of missionaries and creation of many new missions that occurred as a result of the lowering of ages to serve. I think it was Elder Perry who mentioned it during the conference along with the plan to have missionaries use electronic devices more in their teaching and proselyting efforts. I was on my mission during that time and we were all excited to start getting the ipads to use. I think the rollout of those took longer than what many were thinking. My brother got them in his mission not too long after that, but I never got to use them during the remainder of my mission. I believe my mission has them now, but it took a while to get there. This was a mission in the United States, too.

As for the open chapels idea, I'm not sure what happened to it. Maybe it didn't work logistically or it is still being worked on, but I never heard more about it.

John Pack Lambert said...

The plan was never to have the chapels just sitting open with missionaries to staff them. The idea was to make them more open for people who wanted to tour, and a directive that all missionaries have keys to the chapel they covered so they could easily take people on tours of the building. As far as I understand this was actually implemented, but it was never seen as staffing the chapels all day long.

Eric S. said...

Thanks for the clarification, John. That makes sense. Perhaps it was just confusing the way I remember Elder Perry mentioning it. However, the idea of taking investigators on a chapel tour has been around well before that conference. In fact, it is something that is suggested in Preach My Gospel and encouraged for missionaries to do when first inviting investigators to come to church. Maybe it was something that Church leaders wanted missionaries to do more of, but I don't remember anything being specifically implemented after the fact by my mission president or the local stake and ward leaders. Perhaps it was implemented in other parts of the world.

John Pack Lambert said...

I did get the sense that here in the Detroit Mission they went from some to all missionaries having keys to church buildings. I am not sure beyond that. I served before preach my gosple, and I don't think we ever deliberately took someone to tour a chapel and walk them through beforehand where they would go when they went to Church. I know some missionaries here in Detroit do that.
I think it is an idea that should be done more. True, interested people on their first visit might still not remember where all the rooms are or what order they are in, or even where the bathroom is. However I think they would feel less overwhelmed and less lost if they had been in the building before.