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The August 2021 Update to the General Handbook

The latest round of updates to the English version of the General Handbook: Serving in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was published today, August 4, 2021. It includes one new chapter, two rewritten chapters, one expanded chapter, and many updated administrative policies. It also includes smaller revisions in other chapters.

General Handbook coverDownload Photo

These updates have been published in English on ChurchofJesusChrist.org and on the Gospel Library app. They will be translated into other languages in the coming months. Translated portions of previous handbook updates were published in October and November 2020 and in January 2021 The entire handbook is expected to be updated in English by the end of this year.

This handbook revision, which began in February 2020, is being done under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The text guides leaders around the world to better serve with Christlike care. It also helps them implement and adapt the Church’s programs, policies and procedures to their circumstances.

The content has been simplified, reduced and made more adaptable for congregations of all sizes worldwide. The most substantial revisions are listed below.

  • Chapter 4: “Leadership and Councils in the Church of Jesus Christ.” The title has changed to include “and Councils.” The chapter has been expanded to include general information about councils, including some that was previously in chapter 7.
  • Chapter 5: “General and Area Leadership.” This new chapter describes the work and responsibilities of general and area Church leaders and councils. It also explains the responsibility of the new calling of area organization advisers. Note: With the addition of a new chapter 5, the previous chapter 5 (“Stake Leadership”) is now chapter 6. The previous chapter 6 (“The Bishopric”) is now chapter 7. Content from chapter 7 (“Councils in the Church”) is now in chapters 4 and 29.
  • Chapter 20: “Activities.” This rewritten chapter includes an option to organize a ward activities committee in large wards, clarifies instructions about single adult units holding activities on Monday night, updates instructions about multistake and area activities, and updates policies about For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences.
  • Chapter 30: “Callings in the Church.” This rewritten chapter includes instructions that, when possible, members should serve in callings long enough to establish strong relationships with those they serve. The chapter also explains who can call and set apart stake and ward clerks.

Other New and Updated Content

Bishoprics and stake presidencies can now have as many as two assistant executive secretaries help ward and stake executive secretaries in their duties. See sections 6.4.1 and 7.3 for more information.

A new entry on refugees (38.8.35) says Latter-day Saints, “as part of their responsibility to care for those in need, . . . offer their time, talents, and friendship to welcome refugees as members of their communities.” The entry directs readers to ChurchofJesusChrist.org/refugees. A separate section titled “Immigration” (38.8.20, previously “Emigration of Members”) encourages showing the same welcoming attitude to immigrants.

The section titled “Political and Civic Activity” (38.8.30) has been updated. Even when the Church takes a position on a political matter, the section says, the Church “does not ask elected officials to vote a certain way or to take a certain position. Members who are elected officials make their own decisions. These officials might not agree with one another or with a publicly stated Church position. They do not speak for the Church.”

Also, the section now says that “political choices and affiliations should not be the subject of any teachings or advocating in Church settings. Leaders ensure that Church meetings and activities focus on the Savior and His gospel. Members should not judge one another in political matters. Faithful Latter-day Saints can belong to a variety of political parties and vote for a variety of candidates. All should feel welcome in Church settings.” (Read similar comments made by President Dallin H. Oaks at the April 2021 general conference.)

A section called “Privacy of Members” (38.8.31) has been expanded. Local leaders are instructed not to “store or share confidential Church information outside of Church-provided applications, systems, or internet services.” Such information includes a person’s Church membership status, temporal needs, and any other personal information that is not publicly available.

The section on “Businesses” (38.8.7, previously called “Dating or Get-Acquainted Businesses for Single Members”) says “Church meetinghouses and other facilities, Church meetings and classes, and Church websites and social media channels may not be used to promote any business or non-Church entity.”

The policies about marriages in the temple for time only (27.3.3) and civil marriages (38.3.1) have been updated to reflect recent announcements. Marriages for time only are no longer performed in the temple. An authorized Church leader may perform a civil marriage only when either the bride or the groom is a member of the Church unit over which the leader presides.

A complete list of new and revised content is below.

Index of New and Revised Sections and Chapters of the General Handbook, published on August 4, 2021 (new and rewritten chapters and new sections are in bold)

Chapter 0: Introductory Overview

  • 0.5. Terminology

Chapter 2: Supporting Individuals and Families in the Work of Salvation and Exaltation

  • 2.1. The Role of the Family in God’s Plan

Chapter 4: Leadership and Councils in the Church of Jesus Christ (revised chapter)

  • Chapter 4 has been expanded to include content on councils. Some of this content was previously in chapter 7, “Councils in the Church.”

Chapter 5: General and Area Leadership (new chapter)

  • Chapter 5 describes the work of general and area leaders and councils in the Church.

Chapter 6: Stake Leadership (formerly chapter 5)

  • 6.2.1.5. Callings and Releases
  • 6.2.1.6. Stake Organizations and Programs
  • 6.4.1. Stake Executive Secretary and Assistant Stake Executive Secretaries
  • 6.4.2. Stake Clerk and Assistant Stake Clerks

Chapter 7: The Bishopric (formerly chapter 6)

  • 7.3. Ward Executive Secretary and Assistant Ward Executive Secretaries
  • 7.4. Ward Clerk and Assistant Ward Clerks

Chapter 12: Primary

  • 12.1.4. Singing Time
  • 12.1.5. Nursery
  • 12.2.1.1. Roles of Parents and Leaders
  • 12.2.1.2. Gospel Learning
  • 12.3.1. Bishopric
  • 12.3.2. Primary Presidency
  • 12.3.5. Teachers and Nursery Leaders
  • 12.3.6. Activity Leaders

Chapter 18: Priesthood Ordinances and Blessings

  • 18.3. Participation in an Ordinance or Blessing

Chapter 20: Activities (rewritten chapter)

  • Chapter 20 has been rewritten. The content has also been simplified and oriented around the needs of smaller units.

Chapter 25: Temple and Family History Work in the Ward and Stake

  • 25.5.2. Requirements for Temple Ordinance Workers

Chapter 26: Temple Recommends

  • 26.1. Types of Temple Recommends
  • 26.3.1. Temple Recommend Interviews for Members in Wards and Branches

Chapter 27: Temple Ordinances for the Living

  • 27.1.1. Preparing to Receive Temple Ordinances
  • 27.3.2.5. Who Performs a Temple Marriage or Sealing
  • 27.3.3. Marriage in a Temple for Time Only

Chapter 29: Meetings in the Church

  • 29.2.1.5. Sacrament Services in Unusual Situations
  • 29.2.5. Ward Council Meeting (some of this content was previously in chapter 7, “Councils in the Church”)
  • 29.4. Coordinating Council Meetings

Chapter 30: Callings in the Church (rewritten chapter)

  • Chapter 30 has been rewritten. The content has also been simplified and oriented around the needs of smaller units.

Chapter 32: Repentance and Church Membership Councils

  • 32.4.5. Reporting to Government Authorities

Chapter 33: Records and Reports

  • 33.3.2. Stake Clerk

Chapter 34: Finances and Audits

  • 34.6.2. Verifying Tithing and Other Offerings

Chapter 38: Church Policies and Guidelines

  • 38.2.5.1. Melchizedek Priesthood Offices
  • 38.3.1. Who May Perform a Civil Marriage
  • 38.3.2. Civil Marriage for Members from Other Units
  • 38.3.3. Civil Marriage for Nonmembers
  • 38.4.1.6. Sealing after Temple Marriage for Time Only
  • 38.8.3. Audiovisual Materials
  • 38.8.7. Businesses
  • 38.8.8. Church Employees
  • 38.8.11. Computers
  • 38.8.13. Curriculum Materials
  • 38.8.18. Gambling and Lotteries
  • 38.8.20. Immigration
  • 38.8.22. Internet, Satellite, and Video Equipment
  • 38.8.24. Legal Counsel for Church Matters
  • 38.8.24.1. Involvement or Documents in Legal Proceedings
  • 38.8.24.2. Testimony in Legal Proceedings
  • 38.8.25. Mailbox Use
  • 38.8.26. Members’ Communication with Church Headquarters
  • 38.8.27. Members’ Employment
  • 38.8.29. Other Faiths
  • 38.8.30. Political and Civic Activity
  • 38.8.31. Privacy of Members
  • 38.8.33. Recording, Transcribing, or Streaming Messages by General Authorities, General Officers, and Area Seventies
  • 38.8.35. Refugees (new section)
  • 38.8.36. Requests for Church Financial Assistance
  • 38.8.39. Safety in Church Welfare and Self-Reliance Operations
  • 38.8.42. Support to Members in Prisons, Hospitals, and Other Institutions
  • 38.8.44. Taxes
  • 38.9.3. Pre–Military Service Church Orientation

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