Updated Handbook Guidelines Make Ward Mission Leader Optional, Shift Responsibility to Elders Quorum and Relief Society Counselors

The changes they keep a comin'

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s if yesterday’s #TabCATS wasn’t enough to mix things up in anticipation of General Conference, within hours of the Saturday morning opening session of this weekend’s meetings, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints quietly updated Section 5 of Handbook 2, which pertains to missionary work. Of course, keen eyes noticed the change quickly and got the information up on social media within minutes.

The updated guidelines put the elders quorum president in charge of “member missionary work” (which appears to be replacing the broader “missionary work” as the assault on popular vernacular continues), as well as temple work and family history, the latter not being surprising given the recent combining of the elders quorum and high priest group.

However, what is different is that the elders quorum president is to delegate these different responsibilities to counselors, giving counselors a very specific portfolio.

Let’s read an excerpt from the announcement:

When assigned these responsibilities, the elders quorum counselor responsible for member
missionary work will act in the role of ward mission leader or will supervise a ward mission
leader who is a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. Similarly, the other elders quorum counselor
will act as the ward temple and family history leader or will supervise a Melchizedek
Priesthood holder who is called to that responsibility. Whether a bishop calls a ward mission
leader and a ward temple and family history leader or the counselors in the elders quorum
presidency fill those roles is up to the inspired direction of each bishop.

You see what they did there? A counselor is now essentially the ward mission leader, unless the bishop opts to call a ward mission leader, in which case that individual reports to the elders quorum counselor.

The ladies are not left out of the fun. The announcement also states that the Relief Society works in tandem in these capacities:

To facilitate priesthood-directed member missionary work and temple and family history
work, the Relief Society presidency may follow the pattern of the elders quorum, with one
counselor assigned to help with member missionary work and the other counselor assigned
to help with temple and family history work.

This all makes sense. Now these different efforts are coordinated between counselors in the top two auxiliaries, thus freeing up the bishop to focus on the spiritual. Likewise, elders quorum and Relief Society presidents can devote more of their time to ministering.

Not to be cynical, but all of the changes in the past year make me glad I was an elders quorum president a few years ago. Now the Relief Society and elders quorum presidents are basically Bishop Lite™. Service is good!


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