Immediately following the closing session of the 188th Annual General Conference of the Church, President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency — Elder Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring — released a letter explaining the Melchizedek Priesthood quorum changes and the new ministering concept to members.
The changes were announced during the general priesthood and Sunday afternoon sessions of the conference, March 31 and April 1, in order to "focus the efforts of Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and Relief Societies on ministering as the Savior taught," the First Presidency said in the letter.
"The Savior’s ministry exemplifies the two great commandments: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind' and 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself' (Matthew 22:37, 39). In that spirit, Jesus also taught, 'Ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people'" (3 Nephi 13:25).
At the ward level, members of the elders quorums and high priests groups are now combined into one quorum, designated the "elders quorum." High priests groups are now discontinued and one presidency will lead the quorum. This elders quorum includes all elders and prospective elders in the ward and high priests not holding a calling that would include them in the stake level high priests quorum.
The stake presidency will continue to serve as the presidency of the high priests quorum, which consists of "those high priests currently serving in the stake presidency, in bishoprics, on the high council, and as functioning patriarchs," the letter stated.
According to ministering.lds.org, "For many years, home teachers and visiting teachers have responded to assignments to visit the house of each member monthly, deliver a message, and help as needed. Countless hours of devoted and selfless service have been given in this great work.
"Building on that devotion, Church leaders now ask members to increase their focus on Christlike caring for others, both spiritually and temporally. To emphasize that caring, the former programs of home teaching and visiting teaching are now a common effort referred to as 'ministering,' overseen by the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies under the direction of the bishop."
This ministering may now include young women, ages 14-18, as companions to Relief Society sisters. Priests and teachers continue as companions to Melchizedek Priesthood holders.
The First Presidency explained that these "ministering brothers" and "ministering sisters" prayerfully seek to serve as Christ would. They determine through communication and inspiration the frequency and type of contact they have with those to whom they give care, the letter said. They will also counsel with their leaders at least once a quarter regarding the needs of those whom they have been invited to care for.
While the ministering adjustments may take some time to implement, the First Presidency directed, "The quorum adjustments should be implemented promptly."
The letter and more information on ministering can be found at ministering.lds.org, which went live immediately following the Sunday afternoon session of general conference.
For the full text of the letter as well as answers to questions on ministering that might be asked frequently, visit ministering.lds.org. More resources, such as instructional outlines and videos, will be coming soon.