Within minutes of the first talk of the 188th Semiannual General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson greeted members of the Church tuning in throughout the world and announced an adjustment to the Church’s Sunday meeting schedule.
"As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of 'church' as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home," he said. "We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for a home-centered Church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward and stake buildings."
Just six months after the announcement of changes to visiting and home teaching through the new ministering initiative, as well as the reorganization of elders quorums throughout the Church, President Nelson thanked Church members for their "tremendous efforts to follow through with counsel given at general conference six months ago."
But, as the Church expands throughout the world, President Nelson said many members live in a place where no chapels exist — and may not for the foreseeable future.
"In recent years, we in the presiding councils of the Church have wrestled with a fundamental question: How can we take the gospel in its simple purity, and the ordinances with their eternal efficacy, to all of God's children?"
Because of this, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve have, through revelation, come up with "pro-active plans" — including organizational adjustments — to "fortify our members and their families."
"This morning we will announce a new balance and connection between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church," he said. "We are each responsible for our individual spiritual growth. And, scriptures make it clear that parents have the primary responsibility to teach the doctrine to their children."
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained in greater detail the adjustments.
"The Sunday Church meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament meeting, each Sunday, focused on the Savior, the ordinance of the sacrament, and spiritual messages," Elder Cook said. "After time for transition to classes, Church members will attend a 50-minute class that will alternate each Sunday."
Sunday School will be held on the first and third Sundays. Priesthood quorums, Relief Society and Young Women meetings will be held on the second and fourth Sundays. Primary will be held each week during the same 50-minute period and will include singing time and classes, and fifth Sunday meetings will be under the direction of the bishop.
"There is so much more to this adjustment than just shortening the Sunday meetinghouse schedule," Elder Cook said. "President Nelson has acknowledged with gratitude how much is being accomplished as a result of your faithfulness to previous invitations. He, and the entire leadership of the Church, desire to bring greater gospel joy to parents, children, youth, singles, the elderly, new converts, and those people the missionaries are teaching through a home-centered, Church-supported balanced effort."
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the meeting, and other speakers during the session included President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Elder David A. Bednar, both of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Steven R. Bangerter, General Authority Seventy; and Brother M. Joseph Brough, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency.
Elder Craig A. Cardon and Elder Adilson de Paula Parella, both General Authority Seventies, offered prayers and the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square provided music during the session, with Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy as directors and Brian Mathias and Richard Elliott on the organ.