Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been warned several times to take their vitamins and get rest because the church is on a fast-paced mission to prepare the world for what Christians believe will be the return of Jesus Christ.
Between April’s 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the upcoming general conference this weekend, the pace has been brisk, and it has been spearheaded by a 95-year-old prophet who seemingly appears to be in good health and nearly unstoppable.
While many things have happened, and apostles of the church appear to be on the move throughout the world, here are seven standout events of the past six months in the church
On May 6, it was announced that Latter-day Saint couples married civilly are now authorized for immediate temple marriage after. This news was one of the rampant rumors that people believed would be coming out of the April general conference.
Now couples can have friends and family who are not able to go into temples witness their civil marriage, before going to the temple for their sealing ordinance. The news affected members in the United States and Canada. All other countries required a civil marriage prior to a temple sealing already.
Word of Wisdom clarification
On Aug. 15, the church issued an update/clarification on things pertaining to the Word of Wisdom, the health code established in the early days of the church. This code not only purports what is good for the body, but indicates that hot drinks – interpreted as coffee and tea – are not good. Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are not to be taken by members as well.
The new 21st century clarification added members should not use e-cigarettes or vaping. The clarification also asks members to avoid lattes, cappuccinos, anything ending with “-ccino” or beverages from places that primarily serve coffee. Members were reminded to abstain from green tea, including ice tea. Marijuana and opioids should only be taken under the direction of a qualified physician.
LGBTQ rights and policies
On Sept. 12, President Russell M. Nelson, president of the church, spoke at Brigham Young University about five truths. He also clarified why church policy changed regarding children of gay couples who were not allowed to be baptized, and how it was reversed in a matter of four years from not being allowed to ultimately, couples no longer needing special permission for baptism ordinances.
Nelson said it was love that motivated the policy changes toward LGBT parents and children in both the first change and then the reversal.
Earlier in the year, the church announced it supports the “Fairness for All” approach on religious freedom and LGBTQ rights.
Global Children and Youth initiative
On Sept. 29 the church introduced the new Global Children and Youth initiative. The program will take the place of current youth church programs and the Boy Scouts of America programs that had been used for more than 100 years.
It also does away with the Faith in God, Duty to God and Personal Progress goal-setting programs for Latter-day Saint children and youth. This came on the heels of new protection training launched in August, for leaders of youth and children. Before leaders can officiate in their new callings, they are required to watch the training video.
At the end of April’s conference, Nelson announced eight new temples; Pago Pago, American Samoa; Okinawa City, Okinawa; Neiafu, Tonga; Tooele Valley, Utah; Moses Lake, Washington; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; Antofagasta, Chile and Budapest, Hungary.
During the past six months, there have been eight temple groundbreakings, nine temples dedicated, five temples re-dedicated after renovation, one temple being renovated and three sites announced for new temples. It was also announced the Salt Lake City Temple and parts of Temple Square will go through an extensive four-year renovation. The St. George Temple will also have extensive renovations.
Among the temple sites announced was the long-awaited location of the Saratoga Springs Temple in Utah County. The groundbreaking for the temple will be held Oct. 19 with Elder Craig C. Christensen presiding.
In a press conference during Nelson’s South America ministry tour, he said there would be more temples announced at October’s general conference. In 2018, he announced 19 new temples.
In the late spring, the church was recognized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for advancing equality and justice. Later in June, Nelson spoke at the NAACP national convention.
Besides the recognition by the NAACP, in the past six months, the church has been given official recognition — and the ability to proselyte — by the countries of Kuwait and Mali.
Witness policy change
The church announced on Wednesday more inclusion pertaining to witnessing ordinances performed both in and outside of the church’s temples.
According to the press release, any baptized member of the church may serve as a witness of the baptism of a living person. Baptisms for the dead inside the temple may be witnessed by anyone holding a current temple recommend, including a limited-use recommend. And any member of the church who has received their endowment ordinances may serve as a witness to the sealing ordinance, both as a living ordinance for couples and as proxy for ordinances for the dead.
In the past, only the male holders of the priesthood could serve as witnesses for ordinances, both for the living and for the church’s practice of performing ordinances as proxy for deceased ancestors. This policy change allows all worthy members, including women, to serve as witnesses to these ordinances, which the church considers as saving and necessary ordinances.