Just over six months ago, speculation was swirling about all of the coming changes during General Conference.
…and then nothing happened.
Here we sit a few days before General Conference and many haven’t heard a peep.
Maybe that’s a good thing.
Perhaps no big changes will be announced – or maybe they will and the brethren have been a little more tight-lipped this time around. (Well, update! If you haven’t heard about the update to the policy for witnesses of baptisms and sealings – you need to read this! Women are now allowed to participate as witnesses.)
One thing is for certain, the work of temples and their role in the work of salvation will be a talking point.
As President Nelson said in a recent interview, “..the people need the covenants.” These five words are the driving force behind the role of temples in this latter-day work.
In this article, I’ll touch on a few incredible things that will go down in Conference, and a few more that could.
What We Do Know
Children and Youth Initiative
The Church is moving forward on its new global initiative for children and youth that will become available to millions of Latter-day Saint children and youth beginning in 2020.
The initiative will provide children, youth, families and leaders personalized opportunities to grow spiritually, socially, physically and intellectually through meaningful activities, service, gospel learning and inspired goal-setting.
“This is going to be an exciting, wonderful enhancement to everything we have done before,” said Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “This new initiative is not only going to point them all to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, it’s going to give opportunities for large gatherings and personal development through goals and achievement of goals.”
It’s very possible that we’ll learn more in talks during General Conference as a continuation of the presentation that all units of the church watched during the 5th Sunday presentation.
To help prepare children, youth, parents, and leaders to implement this initiative, children and youth who are turning ages 8 to 18 during 2020 and their parents and Young Women, Young Men, and Primary leaders are invited to a broadcast event on Sunday, November 17, at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Primary, Young Women, and Young Men General Presidents.
The Children and Youth Introductory Video Presentation shown below was presented in the 5th Sunday meeting on September 29, 2019.
More Temples Will Be Announced
At the conclusion of President Nelson’s Latin America ministry in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Church Newsroom interviewed President Nelson and Elder Cook about a variety of topics such as their ministry in Brazil, temple growth, dedicating temples, a home-centered Church, President Nelson’s health and his 95th Birthday.
In this interview, President Nelson gave a sneak peek of what will happen in General Conference with regards to temples. (You can jump to the 3:25 mark of the video to hear what he said._
“We’ll announce some more temples in October General Conference. There are some areas of the world that are really quite remote, such as Guam and Cape Verde. Those temples don’t need to be large and ostentatious, but the people need the covenants, the ordinances. So we’ll scale down the temples to fit the needs wherever we go.”
We don’t know where, and we don’t know how many temples will be announced, but we’ll give some ideas of possible locations based on information we’ve received further down in the article.
…the people need the covenants.
Current Temple Statistics
Temples Dedicated: 166
Temples in Operation: 157
Temples under renovation: 9
Temples under construction: 14
Temples announced: 29
Prevailing Possibilities for Conference
Elimination of Young Men/Young Women Presidencies
One possible change that could be announced in October’s Conference would be the elimination of Young Men and Young Women Presidencies. Some believe the roles of bishoprics in the youth organization will change drastically and there will only be advisors going forward – though there wasn’t much of anything in the recent 5th Sunday broadcast that would lead me to believe this change will be made.
If it were made, one asks the question “Why?” This change is actually something that I’ve heard from others before.
One scoutmaster posted his explanation about why this WOULD be a great idea, and it wasn’t done as a rumor or based on any inside knowledge he had, it was just his personal thoughts having worked with the youth for many years.
Here is what he so eloquently explained:
“I’ve been serving as Scoutmaster for the last 6 years and one thing that I have learned, and has been impressed upon me in Scout training, is that I am not the “leader” of the Scouts. The young men are. This has always felt right to me and agrees with the Priesthood organization where Quorum presidents hold the priesthood keys to preside.
It’s difficult to stand back and let the youth take charge, taking only a teaching and mentoring role – especially when you know you could do it faster, and often better than the young man. I’ve seen it build confidence, leadership, and spirituality.
Things usually don’t run as smoothly, but the results far exceed what they would have been otherwise. I try to focus more on the end results (helping the young men grow) instead of having perfectly smooth lessons and activities.
One thing that has bothered me about the current organizational setup is the idea of Young Women and Young Men “Presidencies”. The definition of “preside” is “to exercise management or control (usually followed by over)”.
The Young Men have Quorum Presidencies. The Young Women have Class Presidencies. But when you throw in two additional presidencies of adults, I feel like it confuses both youth and adults regarding who is supposed to be leading.
Not to mention that, from a scriptural vantage point, the Bishop presides over the Aaronic Priesthood. Having another adult “president” muddies the waters and prevents those who hold actual priesthood keys from fully exercising them.
Sadly, in my own experience, I’ve seen all too often where adults take charge from the youth and the youth are quite happy and willing to give up the responsibility. This deprives the youth of invaluable growth and leadership opportunities that can prepare them for future missions, families, careers, and church service.
So what would happen if we replaced Young Women and Young Men presidencies with something that better describes the adults’ intended function? What would we call them? “Advisors”? “Mentors”, “Teachers”, “Assistants”, “Ministering Adults”? 🙂 Would they function much like the current presidencies except taking more of a hands-off, tutoring approach? Or is there a better way to organize the adults that work with the youth?
With the new Youth Programs coming in 2020 and with this “snowstorm” of changes, it seems like a natural time to rethink what- to me- seems a less-effective and confusing leadership structure that robs youth of chances to lead and grow.”
I’ve felt similar things as I’ve served with the youth. I think there would be so much more growth if they were truly giving the mantle of leadership – and since it is difficult for many to “let go” and allow the youth to lead, perhaps a solution is to dissolve the calling altogether.
Additionally, in Ward Council meetings I often hear from youth leaders expressing their desire that the bishopric members take a more active role in fulfilling their responsibilities to be with the youth.
Now that the Elders Quorum and Relief Society Presidencies have had a lot of the Bishop’s load transferred to them, perhaps now would be an optimal time for bishoprics to slide into their true role as the ones responsible to watch over and nurture the young men and young women in the ward.
Whether this change does or does not happen, the hope is that we allow the youth to lead and fill the measure of their creation and allow them the opportunities to grow and develop their talents through shadow leadership and positive mentorship.
President Nelson specifically mentioned this in his introduction during the Children and Youth Introductory Video Presentation aired on September 29, 2019.
Possible Temple Locations
During President Nelson’s first 3 Conferences as a prophet, he has announced a record-breaking 27 temples.
During April 2019’s Conference, temples were announced in the following areas:
Pago Pago, American Samoa
Okinawa City, Okinawa
Tooele Valley, Utah
Moses Lake, Washington
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
One prediction for this upcoming Conference has 14-16 temples being announced, and thoughts on some of the best locations for those temples based on certain parameters such as distance from an existing temple and church membership data.
The list of potential locations includes:
Africa Southeast: Antananarivo Madagascar
Africa West: Freetown Sierra Leone and/or Kumasi Ghana or Monrovia Liberia
Asia: Jakarta Indonesia or Singapore
Asia North: Ulaanbaatar Mongolia
Brazil: Belo Horizonte or Florianopolis Brazil
Caribbean: Kingston Jamaica
Central America: Coban Guatemala
Europe: Edinburgh Scotland or Berlin Germany
Europe East: Vilnius Lithuania
North America: Bentonville Arkansas or Missoula Montana
Pacific: Port Moresby Papua New Guinea
Philippines: Tacloban or Bacolod Philippines
South America Northwest: Santa Cruz Bolivia or Iquitos Peru
South America South: Bahia Blanca Argentina
Utah: Herriman or Heber City Utah
President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency spoke to nearly 8,500 members of the Church in rural northeastern Arizona on September 14th. He reportedly said to the crowd gathered that they would be happy with the new temples announced during October’s Conference, leading me to believe that one of those announced will be close to those members.
Seven Arizona stakes were invited to attend the meeting in Eagar, Arizona: Eagar, St Johns, Show Low, White Mountain, Snowflake, Centennial, and Silver Creek.
While temple location announcements truly are exhilarating, I often find myself wondering why it is so exciting if that excitement doesn’t lead me to attend the temple more often.
I live in Utah and can visit a handful of temples within 30 minutes, so my goal is to have this excitement around temple announcements lead to more personal temple worship.
This reminds me of the words President Nelson spoke in the October 2018 General Conference after having just announced 12 new temples. He said:
Building and maintaining temples may not change your life, but spending your time in the temple surely will. To those who have long been absent from the temple, I encourage you to prepare and return as soon as possible. Then I invite you to worship in the temple and pray to feel deeply the Savior’s infinite love for you, that each of you may gain your own testimony that He directs this sacred and ageless work.
Number of Temples
I felt to add this under a different section because of the intrigue of the topic. One member spoke of Elder Holland and Elder Soares’ visit to BYU-Idaho where the topic of temples was addressed.
He said that they both mentioned that “we think of temples in the hundreds, but we will eventually think of them in the thousands.”
This jives with a detail about temples that many reported hearing President Nelson say. He stated that if we thought there were a lot of temples now, just “add a zero” to the current number we have.
In a similar vein, Elder Bednar was reported as saying during a recent Seminar for New Temple Presidents and Matrons (which was held last year in the Salt Lake Temple) that one day the training would be held in the Conference Center because they would need that much room.
If you do that math there, each temple having a president and matron, and the Conference Center having a seating capacity of 21,000 – there is the capacity to train quite a few Temple Presidents and Matrons.
What Won’t Happen
Don’t expect any of these announcements during General Conference:
- Word of Wisdom Updates (Sorry coffee lovers)
- Missionary calls to China
- Future missionaries learning of their calls in Conference
- Swig announcing a 10-year sponsorship with the Relief Society with the slogan “Sugar at 10 A.M. never faileth”
- BYU Football to be discontinued (Even after Toledo)
- Canonization of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” into Doctrine and Covenants Section 139
- Women allowed to be a witness at baptisms and sealings (because it already happened here)
Best Twitter Musings
Every Conference season there tends to be some prevailing ideas floating about regarding potential changes, and we’ve included a few below.
I heard from our temple presidency that there may be a unique type of temple announced that will be built in outlying areas where the church is small. Maybe Stake Center/temple. Lower cost and quicker build.
— Dr. Michael Goodman (@goodbackdoc) September 27, 2019
hot take: no more hype up rumors about changes in church policy/announcements.. it has become all some are listening for, other than things that can help their spiritually (I especially think of pres Nelson specifically asking the crowd to stay reverent last conference)
— Chey (@skiddoodler) September 27, 2019
We're doing it every other week, but I doubt it'll be announced in conference.
I very much think the prophet wad annoyed at the hype train and is now using official communications for announcements instead
— Christian (@CSchanner) September 28, 2019
I don’t know the exact number of announced and operating temples when Pres Nelson was sustained as prophet but it was probably in the 150 range. So we should see atleast 300 temples from the announced to in operation state by Oct 2025 at the rate he would like it happen.
— The Stake Clerk (@TheStakeClerk) September 29, 2019
How to Prepare for Conference
While thinking about General Conference happenings is fun, don’t let it take away from the spiritual preparation necessary to truly get the most out of General Conference.
Also, don’t let the expectation of these things set you up for disappointment if something drastic doesn’t happen.
Here are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for Conference.
- Read or listen to all of the Conference talks from April before October’s Conference begins. (You might need to listen to them at 2x speed)
- Make a list of questions or concerns you have and study them out before Conference begins. Go seeking answers to questions you have already studied out.
- If possible, attend the temple and spend time pondering your questions and expressing gratitude for events such as General Conference.
- Be prepared to Learn, Act, and Share.
- Be excited!!! We have living prophets of God on the earth! How awesome is this!
- When watching General Conference, focus on how you feel and the inspiration that comes into your mind. Takes notes on inspiration you receive, not necessarily on what was said.
We are so blessed to be led by prophets and apostles who are special witnesses of Jesus Christ. We will receive guidance from these chosen leaders that can keep us on a path of safety and peace. If the noise in the world gets too loud, and you don’t know who to follow, follow the prophets.
Harold B. Lee said:
Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet, “as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4–5).
There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).15
To you Latter-day Saints everywhere, that promise [in D&C 21:4–6] will be yours if you will follow the leadership the Lord has placed within the Church, giving heed to their counsel in patience and faith.1
May we have the humility to follow the spiritual guidance offered to us by our prophets and other leaders in General Conference.
One more thing…read this post from Maeser Art.
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