SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News)- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday that any baptized member of the Church can serve as a witness to temple marriages or baptisms.
Church officials say the change pertains to all baptisms outside the temple. A baptism for the dead may be witnessed by anyone holding a current temple recommend, including a limited-use recommend.
The church also added that any endowed members who hold a current temple recommend may serve as a witness to sealing ordinances living, and in behalf of the dead inside the temple.
Church members participate in ordinances, baptism, marriage sealings in the temple and the endowment, an ordinance church members hold sacred as they believe it brings them closer to God.
These ordinances require witness’ present to observe the ordinance being performed and verify it was done correctly.
The witness has traditionally been men. Some church members say they were pleased to hear the policy change to include women and younger members of the church.
The announcement comes days before the church’s Semiannual General Conference held in downtown Salt Lake City.
Church members, local and of town walked the grounds of temple square attending temple sessions and taking in the scenic view.
I asked temple square attendees their feelings about the new changes and what it means to them.
Shauna Humpherys, from Hyde Park, Utah says “It feels like you’re part of it…you’re being included…so I thought it was exciting.”
Sinah & Mattias Habermann from Germany shared their feelings about the change, Mattias translating for Sinah “’I feel very grateful for that change’, she said and ‘it’s a special honor she will be able to be a witness for her best friends in the temple when they are getting sealed’.”
“The church leaders are trying to make sure that everybody can be as involved as possible and so I think they’re looking for opportunities and they look at this particular opportunity and said ‘why wouldn’t we have women be witnesses?’” says Brad Agle
The announcement has been partiality impactful to the women members. Lance Mergens shared his thoughts and admiration to women who haven’t previously been able to participate as a witness in the church might feel.
“I feel strongly for women in the church, I really have a desire to champion womanhood; there’s so much strength that goes along with being a woman and being a member of the church as a woman, I don’t know anything that it’s like,” Mergens says. He says he thinks this change will encourage everyone’s faith.
“Any adjustments made to ordinances and/or procedures do not change the sacred nature of the covenants being made. Adjustments allow for covenants to be planted in the hearts of people living in different times and circumstances.”President Russell M. Nelson
Church president, President Nelson referred to the announcement as an adjustment said it doesn’t affect the covenants made.