SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News)- A new handbook for leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now available.
The book titled, General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, replaces both Handbook 1 (for stake presidents and bishops) and Handbook 2 (for all other leaders).
It is available digitally only and is accessible to anyone using the Gospel Library app.
Church officials say nine of the 38 chapters have been rewritten. Included in the changes is a major shift in its controversial “November Policy,” which barred children of same-sex couples from being baptized and labeled same-sex couples apostates.
“While we still consider such a marriage to be a serious transgression, it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline. Instead, the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way,” Dallin Oaks, First Counselor in the Presidency, shared in a talk during the April 2019 General Conference.
The new handbook also includes a new entry on those who identify as transgender. In connection with this, content from the Mormon and Gay website has moved to a new portion of ChurchofJesusChrist.org, with a new URL. There is also a new section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org for transgender individuals available.
Another change is a new Church policy related to the witnessing of ordinances, including baptisms performed in chapels and temples. In October 2019 President Russel M. Nelson announced that any baptized member of the Church may serve as a witness to temple marriages or baptism of a living person.
Officials with the Church say they believe in ongoing revelation to prophets and apostles.
“And that means, in a phrase, that the Church is true and living. It can change,” Elder Perkins said. “Having a handbook that is largely digitally delivered allows us to update it as new revelation is received as the Church goes in new directions as part of its worldwide growth.”
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