President Russell M. Nelson announced Sunday afternoon that the Church’s home and visiting teaching programs will be replaced by a coordinated, more personalized approach known as “ministering.”
“For months, we have been seeking a better way to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of our people in the Savior’s way,” President Nelson said. “We have made the decision to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them. Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as ‘ministering.’ Effective ministering efforts are enabled by the innate gifts of the sisters and by the incomparable power of the priesthood. We all need such protection from the cunning wiles of the adversary.”
This new endeavor is overseen jointly by the presidencies of a local congregation’s elders quorum (adult men) and Relief Society (adult women) and, like Saturday evening’s announcement to combine elders quorums and high priests groups, is part of a larger effort to simplify and improve the Church’s ministry.
Unlike the previous programs of home and visiting teaching, ministering does not include a set monthly message in the Church magazines nor a prescribed way to keep in contact, such as in-home, face-to-face visits each month — even though visits are important when they are possible. The new method focuses on flexibility to the needs and circumstances of individuals throughout the world, coupled with quarterly face-to-face interviews between leadership and everyday members about personal and family needs.
The Church’s Relief Society general president, Jean B. Bingham, spoke later in the session to announce that the new ministering concept will involve young women ages 14 to 18 as companions to Relief Society sisters, the same way young men ages 14 to 18 have been participating with adult males for decades.
“This opportunity to participate in building the kingdom of God will be a tremendous benefit to young women, helping them better prepare to fulfill their roles as leaders in the Church and the community and as contributing partners in their families,” Sister Bingham said. “As Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson shared yesterday, young women ‘want to be of service. They need to know they are valued and essential in the work of salvation.’”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also spoke Sunday afternoon about the Church’s new ministering approach.
“We have a heaven-sent opportunity to demonstrate pure religion undefiled before God — to … minister to the widows and the fatherless, the married and the single, the strong and the distraught, the downtrodden and the robust, the happy and the sad — in short, all of us, every one of us, because we all need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear a firm declaration of faith,” Elder Holland said. “Our prayer today is that every man and woman — and our older young men and young women — will leave this general conference more deeply committed to heartfelt care for one another, motivated only by the pure love of Christ to do so.”