The First Presidency has announced changes in temple policies that give young men and young women of the Church more opportunities in temple work and that help Primary children better prepare to serve in the temple.
A Dec. 14 letter outlines the following policy changes that go into effect Jan. 1, 2018:
- Under the direction of the temple presidency, young women may be asked to assist with tasks in the temple baptistry currently performed by adult sisters serving as temple ordinance workers or volunteers.
- Under the direction of the temple presidency, ordained priests may be asked to officiate in baptisms for the dead, including performing baptisms and serving as witnesses.
- Priesthood Preview in Primary will become a combined Temple and Priesthood Preparation meeting for 11-year-old girls and boys and their parents.
Additional temple opportunities for youth
Depending on the needs at a particular temple, temple presidencies will have the option of asking young women ages 12–18 and ordained priests with limited-use temple recommends to serve in the temple in additional ways.
“Our youth have accepted the invitation to engage in doing family history and temple work in amazing ways,” said Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President. “These additional opportunities to serve in the temple will add meaning to their experiences as they perform baptisms for their ancestors. I am truly excited that they will be able to engage in this work in more ways.”
One of those ways is young women taking a greater role in helping temple baptistries function. Young women might, for example, be asked to record baptism and confirmation ordinances, greet and welcome patrons to the baptistry, issue baptismal clothing and assign lockers.
“The service and talents of the young women of the Church are needed for helping to build the kingdom of God on earth, and this is one more way they can help move the work along,” said Sister Oscarson.
With permission of local priesthood leaders, young men who have been ordained as priests are authorized to perform baptisms for living members in meetinghouses and other appropriate locations. The change in policy means they can also baptize or serve as witnesses of baptisms in the temple, fulfilling the scriptural instruction that it is the “priest’s duty to baptize” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:46).
“Each young man who stands in the temple and officiates in the sacred ordinance of baptism for the dead will gain a greater understanding of what priesthood service is and how it blesses all of God’s children,” said Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President. “Imagine how serving in the temple will help them — will strengthen them — as they prepare for future service as full-time missionaries.”
“It is wonderful to think that many more of our young priests will receive opportunities to administer the ordinance of baptism,” added Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé. “As our young men magnify their Aaronic Priesthood duties, they will better recognize and honor the sacred authority they hold. As they participate in the great work of saving souls, their faith and love for the gospel will increase and they will prepare for the day they receive and exercise the higher priesthood and serve a mission.”
Added Elder Cook, “We are confident that our youth will rise to this challenge, become more Christlike in their lives, and receive the eternal blessings that come to those who labor in the vineyard for their deceased ancestors. We pray that this will be an individual, a family and a ward endeavor so that every youth, including those who are not able to identify ancestors, can be blessed by performing these sacred ordinances.”
Temple and Priesthood Preparation meeting for Primary children
Priesthood Preview traditionally has been held once a year for 11-year-old boys and their parents to introduce and prepare them for the priesthood.
Elder Cook said he and other leaders are grateful that beginning next year, 11-year-old girls and boys will receive guidance in an annual Temple and Priesthood Preparation meeting on temple service, priesthood service and making and keeping sacred covenants. The meeting will be planned by local Primary presidencies, under the direction of their bishop or branch president. Young Men and Young Women presidencies and deacons quorum and Beehive class presidencies may also be invited to participate.
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, said, “We are very excited about this change to Temple and Priesthood Preparation so that our 11-year-old boys and girls can be taught to understand the priesthood, the blessings of temple service and the importance of making and keeping sacred covenants. We pray that these children of the covenant will focus on and prepare for the temple from an early age.”
“Including girls in the new Temple and Priesthood Preparation meetings is wonderful,” said Sister Oscarson. “It will help our girls and young women see at an even earlier age how much they have to contribute and how important they are to the work of the Church. I am excited that all of our youth will now better understand their covenants and the many blessings that come to all through participating in priesthood-directed work.”
“Like the Priesthood Preview before, the new Temple and Priesthood Preparation meetings provide an important opportunity to help boys understand the priesthood and strengthen their commitment to prepare themselves to receive it,” said Brother Owen. “Today, as much as any other time in Church history, we need deacons who are ready and anxious to learn and fulfill their priesthood duties. Our hope is that the Temple and Priesthood Preparation meetings set the stage for ongoing learning in their weekly quorum meetings.”
For more information about Temple and Priesthood Preparation, see primary.lds.org and the online version of Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 11:5.5.