CES updates employment standards to require current temple recommend for new hires

Students walking the sidewalks at BYU-Idaho between the Manwaring Center and the Smith Building Sept. 13, 2010. Betty Oldham, assistant to the president for planning and budgeting, said while the physical campus has changed since she went to school there 40 years ago, the feeling around campus has not. Credit: Michael Lewis
The Brigham Young University campus in Provo is pictured on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. Credit: Yukai Peng, Deseret News
Newly hired Church Education System employees — including CES employees who teach seminary and institute — will now be required to hold a current temple recommend, according to a Church announcement issued on Jan. 27, 2022. Credit: Photo courtesy Church Educational System

Last October, President Russell M. Nelson taught a vast, global general conference audience that the temple lies at the center of strengthening faith and spiritual fortitude.

The safest place to be spiritually, he added, “is living inside your temple covenants.”

In harmony with President Nelson’s counsel, the Church announced Thursday, Jan. 27, that all new Church Educational System (CES) hires who are Latter-day Saints will be required to hold — and be worthy to hold — a current temple recommend.

Meanwhile, members already employed at CES institutions — including seminary and institute workers and employees at Church-owned schools — will be invited to adopt this standard voluntarily.  

“The CES institutions are unique among educational institutions,” said Elder Clark G. Gilbert, a General Authority Seventy and Church commissioner of education in a news release. “Central to the effort of CES is our mission to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their home, in the Church of Jesus Christ and in their communities.

“No institutional decision,” he added, “is more important to us than the selection of employees, including faculty, as it has the greatest potential to impact our students.”

Any continuing employees who choose not to opt in to the standard, as well as employees who are not Church members, must continue to meet existing employment and ecclesiastical standards. CES employees have been required to adhere to the CES Honor Code.

The Honor Code — applicable to faculty, administration, staff and students at Church-owned schools — promotes gospel standards including being honest; living a chaste and virtuous life; respecting others; obeying the law; abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee; and participating regularly in Church services (for Church members).

“It is critical that each employee represents the mission, values and goals of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said Elder Gilbert. “These updates reflect the expectations we have for each employee to continue to engage fully in the spiritual mission that is central to each CES institution.”

The Church’s flagship school of higher learning, Brigham Young University, is one of CES’s key institutions. In a message to BYU employees, President Kevin J Worthen said the hiring standard announced Thursday “encompasses faith, testimony, sustaining the leaders of the restored Church of Jesus Christ and conduct consistent with qualifying for temple privileges.”

President Worthen also invited all Latter-day Saints currently teaching and working at BYU to commit voluntarily to the same standard of “hold and be worthy to hold a temple recommend” that will apply to new hires at the school.

“While some may consider this a minor adjustment from our current standard, we believe it will further align us with our mission,” he noted. “Current employees who are members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ who voluntarily choose to accept this standard will be embracing an opportunity that President Russell M. Nelson referred to in the October 2021 general conference: ‘Everything we believe and every promise God has made to His covenant people come together in the temple’.”

BYU also released a Q&A document on Thursday to respond to queries employees may have on the updated CES employment standard.

Here are a few highlights:

How does this employment standard relate to and advance BYU’s mission?

The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson, has emphasized the importance of temple ordinances and revelation received in temples. BYU can better preserve its commitment to its mission by aligning employment standards with temple worthiness. All new hires who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be required to hold and be worthy to hold a temple recommend; all who currently teach and work at BYU will be invited and encouraged to voluntarily adopt this same standard. 

Why is the CES making this adjustment to its employment criteria? 

By requiring new faculty, staff and administrative employees to hold and be worthy to hold a temple recommend, CES schools remain true to their mission statements and anchored to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

At BYU, the university’s identity and operating structure flow from its faith-based mission, aims and objectives, as affirmed by its Board of Trustees and sponsoring institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

BYU is a faith-based community and always has been. The temple-recommend requirement strengthens the spiritual foundation for employees — individually and collectively — that better enables them to provide a spiritually strengthening experience for BYU’s students. 

What is the difference between the former standard that stated “conduct consistent with qualifying for temple privileges” and the updated standard that states “hold and be worthy to hold a temple recommend”? 

For most employees who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ, BYU anticipates this will not represent a change because they already hold and are worthy to hold temple recommends. BYU’s employees are known for their commitment to the university’s mission, their devotion to Jesus Christ and their dedicated service in the restored Church of Jesus Christ.

Holding and being worthy to hold a temple recommend signifies that a person believes in and adheres to Church doctrine, principles and practices and is worthy to enter the temple. 

Will a current faculty member or employee be terminated if they choose not to adopt the employment standard of holding and being worthy to hold a temple recommend?

No. Current faculty and personnel will be invited to adopt the new standard, but it will be their choice.  

BYU’s existing employment standards, including the requirement that employees who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ “accept as a condition of employment the standards of conduct consistent with qualifying for temple privileges,” will continue to apply to employees who decline to adopt the temple-recommend standard. 

Do student employees at BYU fall under this category?

The standard will apply to student employees who work at the Missionary Training Center and who work at the Church of Jesus Christ’s FSY programs. 

All other student employees will not fall under this standard. All students will continue to need an annual ecclesiastical endorsement.

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