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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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LDS Church leaders announce end of home teaching and visiting teaching

Conference goers listen to the talks during the 188th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 1, 2018. Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a significant change to two programs during the Sunday afternoon session of the faith’s 188th Annual General Conference. Home teaching and visiting teaching are being retired in favor of a new approach called “ministering.”

“For months we have been seeking a better way to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of our people in the Savior’s way,” President Russell M. Nelson said. “We have made the decision to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them.”

President Nelson described the change as a way to implement a newer, “holier” approach to member-to-member outreach within the LDS Church.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles further described the new program, saying it would reduce red tape while allowing for more Christlike connections.

“As (Christ) prepared to leave his still-innocent and somewhat confused little band of followers, he did not list a dozen administrative steps they had to take or hand them a fistful of reports to be filled out in triplicate,” Elder Holland said. “No, he summarized their task in one fundamental commandment: Love one another, as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”

The new ministering program does away with an expectation for monthly, in-home visits which in the past often included messages shared from church-published magazines. Ministering will instead provide more flexibility, allowing assigned church members to make contact by phone, written note, text message, social media, video chat or through in-person social activities. Home visits will still be encouraged, but not required every month.

“Local circumstances such as large numbers, long distances, personal safety, other challenging conditions, this may preclude every home, every month,” Elder Holland said.

In the past, adult men have conducted home teaching assignments in cooperation with young men between the ages of 14 to 18. General President of the Relief Society Sister Jean B. Bingham announced Relief Society sisters with ministering assignments will also include young women between the ages of 14 to 18 in a similar manner.

Decisions about how best to implement the ministering program are to be made by local congregations.

“This opportunity to participate in building the kingdom of God will be a tremendous benefit to young women, helping them better prepare to fulfill their roles as leaders in the church and the community, and as contributing partners in their families,” Sister Bingham said.

Members assigned to perform ministering service will be instructed to provide their bishop with a report of the number of interviews made during each quarter of the year.

“Working together under the direction of the bishop, elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies can be inspired as they seek the best ways to watch over and care for each individual and family,” Sister Bingham said.