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LDS Church updates missionary handbook; changes address prejudice, social interactions, more

By Genelle Pugmire - Daily Herald | Aug 21, 2023
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The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made changes to the missionary handbook.
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This undated photo shows missionaries in training class the the Missionary Training Center in Ghana.

Once known as the “white” handbook, the manual with instructions for missionaries has gone through several changes and additions over the years.

On Monday, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced they have approved several more updates to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ handbook for missionaries.

“Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ” was first published in 2019. According to a statement from the church, the new updates address commonly asked questions from missionaries and mission leaders and clarify existing standards.

Some changes in Chapter 3 are aimed at helping missionaries use time more wisely, such as instructing that communication with those who are not immediate family should happen only on a missionary’s day of rest. And when missionaries communicate with friends, the update advises, they should do so only via email or letter and not phone or video chat.

Chapter 3 also adds a reference to the General Handbook entry on prejudice. It notes that Latter-day Saints should, “strive to be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting prejudice of any kind. This includes prejudice based on race, ethnicity, nationality, tribe, gender, age, disability, socioeconomic status, religious belief or nonbelief, and sexual orientation.”

“Prejudice is not consistent with the revealed word of God. Favor or disfavor with God depends on devotion to Him and His commandments, not on the color of a person’s skin or other attributes,” the guidelines continue.

Chapter 3 of the missionary handbook also clarifies that missionary companionships should always have an adult of their own gender present when meeting with a single person of the opposite gender. The new guidance also instructs that physical contact with the opposite gender and children should be limited to a handshake.

The update does not address social situations involving missionaries who may identify as transgender or nonbinary.

“Missionary standards help missionaries to focus on being disciples of Christ and staying true to their sacred calling to invite and help others come unto the Savior,” said Elder Marcus B. Nash, executive director of the Missionary Department, in the church’s announcement. “These updates provide helpful guidance to missionaries on how they can most effectively teach the gospel and represent the Lord and His Church, wherever in the world they may be serving.”

Some of the other updates to the missionary handbook include:

  • Time added in the daily schedule for missionaries to study English, if needed. (Chapter 2)
  • Guidelines related to appropriate types of music to listen to. (Chapter 3)
  • Modified wording in the personal finance section to clarify the use of missionary support funds. (Chapter 4)
  • Alignment of the dress and appearance section with recently approved and published guidelines. (Chapter 4)
  • Clarification that one missionary is designated as the senior companion in all companionships, such as sister training leaders and zone leaders. (Chapter 7)
  • Explanation that Wi-Fi may be used when readily available and approved by mission leaders. (Chapter 7)


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