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Last March, as part of general conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sustained President Russell M. Nelson in a solemn assembly. The First Presidency announced that the high priest and elder’s quorums would combine and that ministering would replace home and visiting teaching.
During the 188th Semiannual General Conference, the Church announced a new Sunday schedule and a home-centered curriculum for studying individually or as families, called Come Follow Me. For most of the BYU-Idaho students interviewed, this change had the biggest effect on their lives.
Scroll reporters react to 2-hour church announcement pic.twitter.com/XVy8D5LjRU
— OceansGratitude (@GratitudeOceans) October 6, 2018
“It really changed the way I had to study every week and prepare for church, as opposed to just sitting there and being taught,” said Kylee Ball, a freshman studying accounting. “I think it helps facilitate better discussions in classes.”
Maddy Hill, a sophomore studying health psychology, helps her Home Evening leaders organize scripture study meetings each week.
“I get more spiritually fed, I guess, through my FHE Come Follow Me than I ever would in a Sunday school or Relief Society,” she said. “It’s a smaller group, and I’m forced to pay attention and participate.”
The seminary program will also change so that youth are studying the same book of scripture as the Come Follow Me study outline. To make the transition smoother, classes will study the first half of the New Testament in June.
President Nelson also emphasized the full name of the Church.
“The most important thing in [nicknames for the church] is the absence of the Savior’s name,” said President Nelson in his October 2018 talk. “When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement.”
Since March 5, the Church changed the names of its websites and programs to avoid nicknames like “Mormon” and “LDS,” and to include the name of Christ. The Church’s new official website is ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
As the sites change, so do the official hashtags. This year, the official tag is #GeneralConference, not #LDSconf. For students and faculty who participate in general conference on social media, the Newsroom gives more hashtag recommendations here.
Missionary policies are also changing. On Sept. 5, the Church started an initiative to send missionary assignments online instead of by snail mail. The Church also announced this year that missionaries are now allowed to call home weekly.
In December, the Church announced that sister missionaries in every mission have the option to wear dress slacks instead of skirts or dresses. Annika Christensen, a freshman studying exercise physiology, almost wishes the announcement had come sooner.
“I froze to death in Montana at negative 20 degrees and I would have really liked to wear pants at that time,” she said. “So, yeah, I’m all for it.”
Christensen has also thought about the meaning behind these changes in Church policy.
“I think the Lord is trying to help us rise above just the culture of the Church and be disciples of Jesus Christ,” she said. “The Church is a vehicle for doing that. It’s Jesus Christ. … He should be where we’re converted.”
In a Newsroom interview last October, President Nelson said the Church is at an exponential phase of growth.
“If you think the Church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning,” he said. “Wait until next year. And then the next year. Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest. It’s going to be exciting.”
Those staying in Rexburg over the weekend can watch general conference online, or come watch the broadcasts in the BYU-Idaho Center and the John Taylor Chapel.