General Conference has ended, and traditionally my task is selecting just one of the many fabulous addresses for the post-Conference program focus of Joy in the Journey Radio. I’ve always struggled with that task. This past Conference was no exception.
And yet at the same time, it was. This latest General Conference was exceptional — truly historic, in fact — in many ways. Consider everything that happened, starting with what occurred before the Conference.
This was the first Conference on the new schedule. The third session now alternates between the General Priesthood meeting and the General Women’s meeting, now no longer held the weekend before Conference. We also started the year with a new method of instruction during the block schedule in which we face and teach each other.
Truly all that was just the tip of the iceberg. Conference began with a solemn assembly. We learned that wards will discontinue high priests groups. Then came the death of home teaching and visiting teaching. Instead, we will now be ministering to others in our wards and branches.
And let’s not forget the announcement of new temples. Perhaps the most historic was the last in President Nelson’s list —“somewhere near a major city in Russia.” Truly, in many ways this Conference was historic. Now it’s our turn to be historic by playing our part in the new changes which our leaders have outlined.
Embrace the reorganization
I’ll say it from the start — I’m rather enamored with these changes. I can see them playing a pivotal role in the evolution of the broader Latter-day Saint community. And at the same time, I feel very strongly we haven’t yet realized all the greatness that lies ahead for us as a people.
Take, for example, the reorganization of local priesthood quorums. Now only those high priests currently serving in a designated leadership position will be members of one stake high priests group over which the stake president presides. All other high priests will join the elder’s quorum of their respective wards.
I can see the vision the Brethren described in older and younger generations each supporting and learning from each other. Yet the larger benefit may well be the change that takes place in our hearts as we knit them together in love and unity. As we put off the generational lenses of our worldly culture and embrace the unity of a true gospel culture, we’ll find our lives enriched as we cannot now imagine.
Embrace the ministering
That unity can and will extend beyond the Melchizedek Priesthood brethren to all adults and youth in our wards. No longer will we go home teaching and visiting teaching. Now we will minister to our wards and branches.
Gone are the days of scheduling last-minute visits to read a message others can well read for themselves. Now we’ll focus on meeting the needs of the people to whom we are called to minister. Now, whether performed by brethren or sisters, by young Aaronic Priesthood holders or now Young Women, we’ll work together to meet one another’s needs.
This next evolutionary step shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, this is what real home teaching and visiting teaching has always been. Meeting the needs of the people has always been the true intent behind these programs. Announcing it as the stated purpose and then coupling it with new language that supports that end will reinforce that intention to wonderful effect.
Embrace the new culture
Perhaps the most exciting result I envision from all these changes is the change in our culture, especially as it concerns LDS singles. I see the day when LDS singles no longer feel like second-class citizens in the Kingdom but rather full-fledged “fellowcitizens with the Saints” (Ephesians 2:19). In fact, I see the changes announced in Conference laying the groundwork for changing the culture for singles within the broader LDS community.
For far too long, LDS singles have existed on the fringes of mainstream LDS society. Centering LDS culture around a status that by definition singles don’t have naturally yields this result.
Now with the new emphasis on meeting the needs of individuals and families, the Brethren are leading us into a new culture, one in which we see each other as the brothers and sisters we really are, one centered around Christ and the covenants we make with Him, and one in which we strive to follow His wonderful example of ministering to the one.
The changes we are about to make are historic. A bright and glorious future awaits us all. If we will embrace history, surrender to love, and seek to minister to one another as the Savior would, we will change the culture because we’ll have changed ourselves. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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