On Friday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced updates and new sections to the General Handbook for leaders and members of the church.
The updates emphasize the work of salvation and exaltation, as well as principles of flexibility, agency and personal revelation, according to a church statement.
Three new sections refer to the church teachings on prejudice, dress and appearance, and seeking information from reliable sources.
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 and in the Gospel Library app. Versions in other languages will follow in coming months.
This ongoing handbook revision is being done under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, according to the church statement.
The text is designed to help leaders around the world serve with Christlike care when implementing and adapting the church’s programs, policies and procedures to their circumstances, according to the church statement.
The content also has been simplified, reduced and made more adaptable for congregations of all sizes worldwide.
Throughout the handbook, references to “birth sex” were changed to “biological sex at birth.” This was done to be consistent with the first reference in section 38.6.23 (“Transgender Individuals”), published in February 2020.
The section on prejudice reflects recent teachings from President Russell M. Nelson and President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency about honoring the dignity and divinity of every soul.
The new sections in their entirety read as follows:
“All people are children of God. All are brothers and sisters who are part of His divine family (see ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’). God ‘hath made of one blood all nations’ (Acts 17:26). ‘All are alike’ unto Him (2 Nephi 26:33). Each person is ‘as precious in his sight as the other’ (Jacob 2:21).
“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 Church calls on all people to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice toward any group or individual. Members of the Church should lead out in promoting respect for all of God’s children. Members follow the Savior’s commandment to love others (see Matthew 22:35–39). They 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.”
Dress and Appearance 38.8.17
“Men and women are created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26–27; Abraham 4:27). Mortal bodies are a sacred gift.
“Members of the Church are encouraged to show respect for the body in their choices about appropriate dress and appearance. What is appropriate varies across cultures and for different occasions. For example, for sacrament meeting, individuals wear their best available Sunday clothing to show respect for the sacrament ordinance (see 18.9.3). This same principle applies to temple attendance (see 27.1.5). Disciples of Jesus Christ will know how best to dress and groom themselves.
“Members and leaders should not judge others based on dress and appearance. They should love all people, as the Savior commanded (see Matthew 22:39; John 13:34–35). All should be welcomed at Church meetings and activities (see 38.1.1).
“When issuing temple recommends and ward and stake callings, leaders consider worthiness and the guidance of the Spirit (see 26.3, 30.1.1, and 31.1.1).”
Seeking Information from Reliable Sources 38.8.45
“In today’s world, information is easy to access and share. This can be a great blessing for those seeking to be educated and informed. However, many sources of information are unreliable and do not edify. Some sources seek to promote anger, contention, fear, or baseless conspiracy theories (see 3 Nephi 11:30; Mosiah 2:32). Therefore, it is important that Church members be wise as they seek truth.
“Members of the Church should seek out and share only credible, reliable, and factual sources of information. They should avoid sources that are speculative or founded on rumor. The guidance of the Holy Ghost, along with careful study, can help members discern between truth and error (see Doctrine and Covenants 11:12; 45:57). In matters of doctrine and Church policy, the authoritative sources are the scriptures, the teachings of the living prophets, and the General Handbook.”
According to Church Communications, there are six newly rewritten chapters ranging from topics such as “Stake Leaderships,” “Ministering” and “Temple Recommends.”
Since the first release of General Handbook chapters in February 2020, nearly 60% of the handbook has been reworked, according to the church.
The General Handbook replaces Handbook 1 (for stake presidents and bishops) and Handbook 2 (for all leaders). The remainder of the handbook will be revised in 2021, according to the church.
To read the entire handbook for the updates, changes and adjustments visit http://chucrchofjesuschrist.org. or the churches library app.