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Church handbook update, vaccines “protect health and preserve life”

President Russell M. Nelson receives the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, in Salt Lake City. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has reemphasized its long-time position in support of vaccines in the latest update to its handbook.

The emphasis came in the latest update to the church’s General Handbook outlining policies and instructions for church leaders as part of their process of updating and condensing the book.

“Vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life,” the handbook said in the new section added Wednesday

“Members of the Church are encouraged to safeguard themselves, their children, and their communities through vaccination,” it continued.

The church said this is not a new policy, but that it has been the long-standing position of the First Presidency since at least 1978.

All three members of the church’s First Presidency received COVID-19 vaccinations earlier this year in Salt Lake City.

In January they issued a statement urging members to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as availability allowed.

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“In word and deed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported vaccinations for generations. As a prominent component of our humanitarian efforts, the Church has funded, distributed and administered life-saving vaccines throughout the world. Vaccinations have helped curb or eliminate devastating communicable diseases, such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, smallpox and measles. Vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life.

“As appropriate opportunities become available, the Church urges its members, employees and missionaries to be good global citizens and help quell the pandemic by safeguarding themselves and others through immunization.”

Section on Affinity Fraud

In addition to the emphasis on the importance of vaccines, the revisions also added a new section warning about ‘affinity fraud,’ also known as pyramid or Ponzi schemes.

The new section says using friendship or a position of trust to take financial advantage of someone else is, “a shameful betrayal of trust and confidence.

“Its perpetrators may be subject to criminal prosecution. Church members who commit affinity fraud may also face membership restrictions or withdrawal.  Members may not state or imply that their business dealings are sponsored by, endorsed by, or represent the Church or its leaders.”

Other changes and updates

The church said in total, four new chapters were added, and seven other chapters had sections added or revised in the latest rounds of updates. This brings their planned update to the English version of the General Handbook to 75% complete.

In addition to the two sections mentioned above. The church also added a new policy counseling members against, “extreme or excessive preparation for possible catastrophic events.”

They also expanded the chapter relating to the local congregational leadership. This update expands the callings that can be held by members in young single adult and single adult units.

One of the more notable changes came as the church said single males under the age of 30 could now serve in Young Single Adult wards and stakes as counselors in both stake presidencies as well as bishoprics, on high councils and as stake Sunday School presidents and counselors.

Young Latter-day Saint women under the age of 30 can also serve in YSA wards and stakes can serve as Stake Relief Society presidents and counselors.

“In recent months, our minds have been drawn with particular focus to Latter-day Saints who are single adults,” Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained.

“We want you to know that you are loved—and so very needed in building the kingdom of God. For this reason, we felt to search carefully for policies and misperceptions that might limit the Church service of single members. What we found was that Church policy already allows for broad service by single adults—and it could be even broader.

“We feel today’s policy adjustments can make a big difference. We hope your leaders know to put you to work—including as counselors in bishoprics, on high councils, and as organization presidents and counselors.”

A full list of the new updates and changes can be found on the church’s newsroom site.