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News Release

The General Handbook Is Complete in English

Other languages are coming in 2022

“General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is now complete in English after its first partial release nearly two years ago. The most recent updates (detailed below) were published today online and in the Gospel Library app. This handbook has been prepared under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The General Handbook is the result of unifying Handbook 1 (for stake presidents and bishops) and Handbook 2 (for all leaders) into one volume. The first chapters were published in February 2020, with subsequent updates in July and December of that year and March and August of 2021. Completion in other languages will come in 2022.

“The purpose behind this . . . revision is to help every member serve in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a more Christlike way,” said Elder Anthony D. Perkins, executive director of the Church’s Correlation Department. “In a variety of ways, we’ve tried to make this book very accessible to every member of the Church, whether they’re a new member or a longtime member, whether they live in the United States or the most far-flung place on the planet.”

 

Those ways include structuring the content around the core doctrinal concepts of God’s work of salvation and exaltation; creating content that is adaptable to congregations of all sizes; explaining the scriptural “why” of the way things are done; using ministerial language; simplifying the text; reducing word count by 20 to 25%; and providing guidance on many policy issues, including medical marijuana, vaccinations and prejudice.

“We have seen the hand of the Lord in this process,” said Sister Reyna I. Aburto of the Relief Society General Presidency. She and Elder Perkins are on the committee of the Church’s General Authorities and General Officers that has met weekly to review every line of the new handbook. “[God] has actually helped us word by word, line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. And we have just been witnesses of how He takes us by the hand when we look for that revelation.”

General Handbook coverDownload Photo

Elder Perkins said Latter-day Saints often ask him whether the handbook is written by Church employees or the Apostles. The answer, he said, is both. Guided by the Church’s executive councils, a team of 20 to 30 General Authorities, General Officers, staff and editors present their best work to the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency, who then give their feedback.

“The First Presidency is not shy about making edits,” Elder Perkins said. “And for me, that has been very inspiring — to do the very best work we can, . . . and yet there are things that we miss — very important things that Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency see and are added into the handbook. I can say to members with full confidence that the handbook, as written, reflects the desires and the input and direction from the people we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators.”

The General Handbook will continue to be, in Elder Perkins’ words, “a living, breathing digital document” for the global faith. The Church will release updates three times a year: March, July and November or December. To date, the revisions in other languages have lagged by about six months; future updates will happen simultaneously in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Highlights of the December 15 Update

The new content published on December 15, 2021, includes seven newly revised chapters and many other revisions. For example, chapter 14 (“Single Members”) features counsel from President M. Russell Ballard’s April 2021 general conference message, “Hope in Christ.” The content of the chapter is organized according to the work of salvation and exaltation — emphasizing that single Church members are essential to that work. Also, the chapter notes that elders quorum and Relief Society presidents are now responsible for supporting young single adults in their congregations.

Chapter 19 (“Music”) has information about using culturally diverse music styles and instruments other than a piano and organ. “Sacred music that is written or sung in culturally diverse musical styles may help unify congregations,” the text says. “Music coordinators and priesthood leaders may include a variety of appropriate musical styles that appeal to members of various backgrounds.”

Chapter 28 (“Temple Ordinances for the Deceased”) includes guidelines about names to submit for temple ordinances and names not to submit. The text explains all proxy ordinances, not just baptism for the dead, and features a policy to allow unendowed Melchizedek Priesthood holders to officiate in confirmations for the dead.

Chapter 31 (“Interviews and Other Meetings with Members”) provides principles and guidelines for all leaders who have opportunities to meet with members. The chapter now includes interview questions for Melchizedek Priesthood ordination, as well as updated baptism interview questions. It also includes guidelines about meeting with members virtually. The word “interview” is limited to ministering interviews and settings where a priesthood leader is determining a member’s spiritual readiness to participate in an ordinance or receive a calling.

Chapters 33 (“Records and Reports”) has instructions on recording attendance for Sunday quorum and organization meetings. It also provides guidance on data privacy and security.

Chapter 34 (“Finances and Audits”) removed references to unit checking and savings bank accounts because they are no longer used. It also updated auditing instructions and introduced references to online donations and to new disbursement instruments such as payment cards and electronic payments.

Chapter 35 (“Care and Use of Meetinghouses”) has information about the roles of Area Seventies, Church facilities managers and stake and ward technology specialists. The title of the “stake physical facilities representative” is now “stake building representative.” And information is included about the Facility Issue Reporting (FIR) app, which stake and ward council members can use to request building maintenance.

Chapter 38 (“Church Policies and Guidelines”) contains several notable updates. Some content previously in section 38.2 (“Policies for Ordinances and Blessings”) is now in chapters 18 and 31. Section 38.2 now focuses primarily on ordinance policies in special circumstances. It also includes information about streaming ordinances.

In chapter 38.8, the sections for the Bible and the Book of Mormon are now merged into a new “Scriptures” section. “The Church identifies editions of the Bible that align well with the Lord’s doctrine in the Book of Mormon and modern revelation,” the section says. Examples include the King James Version in English, the Reina-Valera (2009) in Spanish and the Almeida (2015) in Portuguese. “Other editions of the Bible may be useful for personal or academic study.”

Chapter 38 also includes a revised policy on personal use of the internet and social media. Church members are encouraged to “avoid all statements of prejudice toward others” and “be Christlike … at all times, including online, and reflect a sincere respect for all of God’s children. Members should not use threatening, bullying, degrading, violent, or otherwise abusive language or images online. If online threats of illegal acts occur, law enforcement should be contacted immediately.” Connected with this, an addition has been made in chapter 32 (“Repentance and Church Membership Councils”) to note that a membership council may be necessary when a Latter-day Saint threatens physical violence in person or online.

A complete list of revised content is below.

Index of New and Revised Sections and Chapters of the General Handbook, published on December 15, 2021 (rewritten chapters and rewritten or new sections are in bold)

Chapter 6: Stake Leadership

  • 6.3. Differences between the Authority of District Presidents and That of Stake Presidents
  • 6.7.1. Stake Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School Presidencies
  • 6.7.2. Stake Young Men Presidency

Chapter 7: The Bishopric

  • 7.1. The Bishop and His Counselors

Chapter 8: Elders Quorum

  • 8.3.3.2. Responsibilities

Chapter 9: Relief Society

  • 9.3.2.2. Responsibilities

Chapter 10: Aaronic Priesthood Quorums

  • 10.2.1.3. Service and Activities
  • 10.4.2. Responsibilities
  • 10.5. Advisers and Specialists
  • 10.7. Stake Young Men Leaders

Chapter 11: Young Women

  • 11.2.1.3. Service and Activities
  • 11.3.4.2. Responsibilities
  • 11.3.5. Advisers
  • 11.3.6. Specialists

Chapter 12: Primary

  • 12.3.2. Primary Presidency

Chapter 13: Sunday School

  • 13.6. Stake Sunday School Leaders

Chapter 14: Single Members

  • This chapter has been revised.

Chapter 18: Performing Priesthood Ordinances and Blessings

  • The title of this chapter has been slightly revised, and information has been added about approving, authorizing and performing ordinances (previously in section 38.2).

Chapter 19: Music

  • This chapter has been revised.

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

  • 25.1. Member and Leader Participation in Temple and Family History Work (updated “limited-use temple recommends” throughout)
  • 25.3.7. Area Temple and Family History Advisers

Chapter 26: Temple Recommends

  • 26.1. Types of Temple Recommends (updated “limited-use temple recommends” throughout)
  • 26.4.1. General Guidelines
  • 26.4.2. Temple Recommends for Newly Baptized Members
  • 26.5.1. Members Receiving Their Own Endowment

Chapter 27: Temple Ordinances for the Living

  • 27.4.1. Issuing a Recommend for Sealing Living Children to Parents
  • 27.4.4. Who May Attend a Sealing of Living Children to Parents

Chapter 28: Temple Ordinances for the Deceased

  • This chapter has been revised.

Chapter 29: Meetings in the Church

  • 29.2.5. Ward Council Meeting
  • 29.3.11. Stake Bishops’ Council Meeting

Chapter 30: Callings in the Church

  • 30.7. Calling, Ordaining, and Setting Apart Bishops
  • 30.8.1. Added ward music coordinator
  • 30.8.3. Added stake communication director, assistant directors, and specialists

Chapter 31: Interviews and Other Meetings with Members

  • This chapter has been renamed and revised. It now provides principles and guidelines for all leaders who have opportunities to meet with members.

Chapter 32: Repentance and Church Membership Councils

  • 32.4.5. Reporting to Government Authorities
  • 32.6.2.5. Some Other Acts
  • 32.6.3.3. Embezzling Church Funds
  • 32.7.11. Sins Involving Members Who Live in Different Wards or Stakes

Chapter 33: Records and Reports

  • This chapter has been revised.

Chapter 34: Finances and Audits

  • This chapter has been revised.

Chapter 35: Care and Use of Meetinghouses

  • This chapter has been renamed and revised.

Chapter 37: Specialized Stakes, Wards, and Branches

  • 37.2. Young Single Adult Wards and Branches in a Geographic Stake

Section 38.2: Policies for Ordinances and Blessings

  • This section has been renamed and revised.

Section 38.3: Civil Marriage

  • This section has been revised.

Section 38.4: Sealing Policies

  • This section has been revised.

Section 38.8: Administrative Policies

Deleted the following sections (former section numbers are shown):

  • 38.8.5. Bible
  • 38.8.6. Book of Mormon
  • 38.8.42. Support to Members in Prisons, Hospitals, and Other Institutions

Added the following sections (new section numbers are shown):

  • 38.8.27. Ministering to Members Affected by Crime and Incarceration
  • 38.8.39. Scriptures
  • 38.8.42. Support to Members in Hospitals and Care Centers

Revised the following section and title (new section number is shown):

  • 38.8.19.3. Personal Internet and Social Media Use

Because of these additions and deletions, most section numbers in 38.8 have changed.

Section 38.9: Military Relations and Chaplain Services

  • This section has been revised.

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