SALT LAKE CITY -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Sunday they will be replacing the home and visiting teaching programs with a more personalized approach that now includes young women.
According to a press release on Mormonnewsroom.org, President Russell M. Nelson announced the change Sunday afternoon during the faith's semi-annual General Conference.
“For months, we have been seeking a better way to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of our people in the Savior’s way,” President Nelson said according to the press release. “We have made the decision to retire ‘home teaching’ and ‘visiting teaching’ as we have known them. Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as ‘ministering.’ Effective ministering efforts are enabled by the innate gifts of the sisters, and by the incomparable power of the priesthood. We all need such protection from the cunning wiles of the adversary.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said they are changing the language partly because "our ministering effort will be in settings other than the home and partly because our contact won't be defined by teaching prepared lessons."
Holland says members will continue to visit homes "as possible" but circumstances like long distances, personal safety and other challenging situations may make a monthly home visit difficult. Holland says visits can be supplement with other contact through social media, phone calls or attending service projects and social activities.
The LDS Church also announced the new ministering concept will involve young women ages 14 to 18, who will be paired as companions with adult women in Relief Society—the same way young men of that same age have been participating with adult males for decades.
The new program does not include a set monthly message or a designated way to keep in contact.
Holland said the new name, new flexibility and reduction in reports "will not make one ounce of difference in our service unless we see this as an invitation to care for one another in a bold new holier way."
Under the previous programs, a pair of priesthood holders or two women were assigned to visit each member or family in a congregation on a monthly basis. You can read more about the previous Home Teacher and Visiting Teacher programs by clicking the respective links.