“I testify of the importance of the work that the Lord has entrusted to each of us,” said Church President Russell M. Nelson. “He has prepared us to serve at this time, and He will continue to help and sustain us as we seek to build up His kingdom on earth.”
As is customary for the October general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, General Authorities and General Officers of the Church met this morning to be instructed by the First Presidency. This instruction included a new Church policy related to the witnessing of ordinances, including baptisms performed in chapels and temples.
“Obedience to sacred temple covenants is essential for us to qualify for eternal life—the greatest gift of God to His children,” President Nelson taught. “As leaders in the Lord’s Church, we need to understand the eternal truths taught in the temple. We need to know the importance of and the difference between sacred covenants, ordinances and procedures.”
Using both historic and recent changes to temple ordinances and procedures to illustrate this point, President Nelson said that “any adjustments made to ordinances and/or procedures do not change the sacred nature of the covenants being made. Adjustments allow for covenants to be planted in the hearts of people living in different times and circumstances.”
Quoting a prophecy from President Wilford Woodruff, the fourth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Nelson said: “We have not gotten through with revelation. … President [Brigham] Young, who followed Joseph Smith … organized these temples and carried out the purposes of his calling and office. … He accomplished all that God required at his hands. But he did not receive all the revelations that belong to this work; neither did President Taylor, nor has Wilford Woodruff. There will be no end to this work until it is perfected.”
President Nelson then announced a change in the Church’s policy related to witnesses who participate in baptisms in local congregations and in temple work.
- Any baptized member of the Church may serve as a witness of the baptism of a living person. This change pertains to all baptisms outside the temple.
- A proxy baptism for a deceased person may be witnessed by anyone holding a current temple recommend, including a limited-use temple recommend.
- Any endowed member with a current temple recommend may serve as a witness to sealing ordinances, living and proxy.
“We are joyful about these changes. Imagine a beloved sister serving as a witness to the living baptism of her younger brother. Imagine a mature couple serving as witnesses in the temple baptistry as their grandson baptizes their granddaughter for and in behalf of a dear ancestor.”
President Nelson concluded his remarks by teaching that “the temple is the object of every activity and every advancement in the Church. All our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead lead to the holy temple. He has and always will direct how ordinances are to be performed so that we can understand and internalize our covenants with Him.”