Another batch of updates was published today to the Church’s General Handbook. Six more chapters have been rewritten, and sections of 11 other chapters were added or revised. The text is available to the public in English online. Versions in other languages will follow in coming months.
The updates emphasize the work of salvation and exaltation, as well as principles of flexibility, agency, and personal revelation. In the video below, leaders discuss the updates to the handbook:
- Chapter 5: “Stake Leadership” includes updated information on stake council meetings (watch this video explaining new additions); information about how a district president’s responsibilities differ from those of a stake president; and a section on the stake patriarch, which was formerly in a separate chapter of the handbook.
- Chapter 21: “Ministering” emphasizes doctrine and scriptures related to how members care for others.
- Chapter 22: “Providing for Temporal Needs and Building Self-Reliance” includes updated guidelines on administering Church welfare and offers an expanded list of available resources.
- Chapter 25: “Temple and Family History Work in the Ward and Stake” includes updated information on (1) organizing temple and family history work in the ward and stake, (2) family history resources and (3) calling temple workers.
- Chapter 26: “Temple Recommends” includes updated information on issuing temple recommends.
- Chapter 27: “Temple Ordinances for the Living” includes updated information for members receiving their own endowment or preparing to be sealed or married in the temple.
New and Updated Policies
- A new section on prejudice reflects recent teachings from President Nelson and President Oaks about honoring the dignity and divinity of every soul.
- A section titled “Seeking Information from Reliable Sources” counsels Latter-day Saints to be wise in their pursuit of truth.
- A section “Dress and Appearance” encourages Latter-day Saints to show respect for the body in their choices about appropriate dress and appearance. It also says that members and leaders should not judge others based on dress and appearance.
- New policies regarding members with intellectual disabilities recognize the challenges that members sometimes face in making decisions about ordinances. The handbook now explains that the bishop has responsibility for baptisms of members of record who are baptized at age 9 or older because of intellectual disabilities. These members no longer have to be taught by the missionaries unless they desire to be. The handbook also encourages individuals, leaders, and, where applicable, parents to counsel together in making decisions about receiving ordinances.
- The medical marijuana section (first published in July 2020) clarifies that a person should follow the “dosage and mode of administration from the physician or other authorized medical provider.” Also, “the Church does not approve of vaping marijuana unless the medical provider has authorized it based on medical necessity.” The Church continues to oppose the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.
- The handbook section on the Word of Wisdom has been renamed “Word of Wisdom and Healthy Practices.” In addition to noting the Church’s long-established counsel to abstain from tobacco, alcohol, tea and coffee, the text clarifies that “there are other harmful substances and practices that are not specified in the Word of Wisdom or by Church leaders. Members should use wisdom and prayerful judgment in making choices to promote their physical, spiritual, and emotional health.”
- An updated section on medical and health care notes that “seeking competent medical help, exercising faith, and receiving priesthood blessings work together for healing, according to the will of the Lord.” Latter-day Saints “are discouraged from seeking miraculous or supernatural healing from an individual or group that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of prayer and properly performed priesthood blessings. These practices are often referred to as ‘energy healing.’ Other names are also used. Such promises for healing are often given in exchange for money.”
See the article “The Latest Changes to the General Handbook” for a complete index of the handbook updates.