The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will issue a new administrative handbook to hundreds of thousands of its lay leaders in a worldwide leadership training meeting tomorrow.
The handbook will be introduced in a special training meeting originating at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, and broadcast to 95 countries in every time zone and in 22 languages during the course of the day.
Church leaders say that one of the major aims of the new handbook is to reduce the administrative workload on the Church’s bishops, who put many hours of service into their church duties in addition to managing their full-time occupations and their families.
Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church, has said that as the faith continues to grow and more lay leaders need to be trained, it is important to maintain the integrity of policies, procedures and programs contained in the handbook.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differs markedly from most other major churches in its absence of full-time paid clergy at the congregational level.
In relieving pressure on its congregational leaders, known as bishops, other lay leaders will take on additional assignments. Extra responsibilities will be passed to “ward councils,” which include both men and women whose primary duty is to provide for the spiritual needs of individuals and families.
Key principles embodied in the handbook are simplification and flexibility where necessary in units that lack sufficient members to carry out the full Church program, while at the same time maintaining the essential doctrines and principles of the Church.
Major new doctrinally based chapters have been added at the front of the book on the eternal family and leadership and priesthood principles.
The handbook includes two volumes, one of which will be provided to hundreds of thousands of men and women who shoulder significant responsibilities in administering local Church programs and congregations. It contains the vast majority of revisions and will be posted online Saturday at LDS.org, the Church’s website for members, where anyone can view it. Complete video of the worldwide leadership training broadcast will also be posted online late Saturday evening, mountain time.
The other volume of the handbook, which contains relatively few changes, will be used primarily by bishops and stake presidents (leaders who oversee the work of several bishops). It will also be placed on the Church’s website with other resources specifically used only by these leaders.
Church leaders have emphasized that while the handbook is an essential guide in a large church with a lay ministry, it is not scripture, and individual leaders are expected to seek inspiration and use judgment when administering their church duties.