SALT LAKE CITY -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will now allow women to serve as official witnesses for several religious ordinances.
Latter-day Saint President Russell M. Nelson announced the change Wednesday. Previously, only priesthood holders were allowed to serve as official witnesses.
Now any baptized member of the church may serve as a witness to a baptism.
Proxy baptisms on behalf of a deceased person occur inside of a temple, and as such any person with a current temple recommend may now serve as a witness. This includes those with a limited-use recommend, often given to youth participating in proxy baptisms.
Sealing ordinances, which are generally performed as part of temple marriages, can now be witnessed by any member who has been endowed, meaning a member who has participated in temple ordinances.
“We are joyful about these changes," Nelson said. "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.”