Friday , October 27, 2017 - 1:39 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — In a rare change to the faith’s twice-yearly General Conference format, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday, Oct. 27, that it would no longer hold separate meetings for men and women in every conference, but would hold each meeting once per year.
The new format will mean there will be a general priesthood session on the Saturday evening of the April conference and a general women's session on the Saturday evening of the October conference, according to a letter from the church’s governing First Presidency that is to be read in Sunday’s worship services.
Previously, a women’s meeting was held on the Saturday before each semiannual conference and a priesthood session for men only was on the Saturday of each conference.
The times of the meetings will not change, the letter says.
The letter says the change is being made in the “spirit of reducing and simplifying the work of the Church and the demands made upon leaders and members."
For many members of the church, General Conference is an important occasion where they listen to speeches from leaders of the church, including some men they believe are prophets and speak for God. The meetings originate in the Conference Center, which seats about 21,000 people across the street from the faith’s iconic Salt Lake Temple, and are broadcast on TV, radio and the internet around the world.
Prior to October 2014, the women’s meeting was not an official part of General Conference, according to the Deseret News, but was a separate semiannual meeting for all women, young women and girls in the church 8 years old and older.
The women’s meeting began in 2014 and combined what had, since 1993, been separate general Relief Society meetings that were held in September for adult women, and a Young Women meeting in March for girls ages 12 to 18, according to the church’s website.
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