STK Temple Square

The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at left, is photographed along with Temple Square, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, lower right, and the Church Office Building, top right, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 in Salt Lake City. In the background is the Utah State Capitol. 

If you want to know the latest policies from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on anything from surrogate motherhood and suicide to the occult, look no further than the latest update in the General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

On Friday, the church announced updates to 15 chapters of the handbook. Those changes include “significant” changes to five chapters, according to the church.

“To date, 16 of the book’s 38 chapters have been completely reworked, and minor changes have been made to several other chapters as part of an ongoing revision under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” the church statement said.

All changes are under the direction of the First Presidency that includes President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring.

“The organizing framework for the handbook is the work of salvation and exaltation. The chapters are designed to help leaders around the world serve with Christlike care when implementing and adapting the church’s various programs, policies and procedures to their circumstances,” according to the church.

The “Elders Quorum” and “Relief Society” chapters are now organized around the work of salvation and exaltation. The word count in each has been reduced by nearly half. The word count also has been significantly reduced in the new “Sunday School” and “Teaching the Gospel” chapters, according to the press release.

In Chapter 38, “Church Policies and Guidelines,” there are eight policies that are either updated or new.

“These adjustments apply to entries on birth control, donating or selling sperm or eggs, fertility treatments, the occult, sex education, suicide, and surrogate motherhood,” according to the church. Some other parts of this chapter were updated in February.

Additionally, an entry on medical marijuana is now included in section 38.7 (titled “Medical and Health Policies”).

“Several of these updates now include doctrinal explanations to help people understand why the church takes the position it does on these issues,” the church statement said.

A new section has been added, “Home-Centered Gospel Learning and Teaching,” to emphasize the importance of teaching and learning the gospel in the home.

As with the updates published in February and March, the changes published on July 31, can be applied effectively to congregations of all sizes, which is especially useful for a global faith of more than 16 million individuals, the press release said.

In “Preface to Policies on Moral Issues” (38.6), a statement has been added to the beginning of section 38.6: “A few policies in this section are about matters that the church ‘discourages.’ Church members usually do not experience membership restrictions because of their decisions about these matters. However, all people are ultimately accountable to God for their decisions,” according to the church.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter summary of the changes provided by the church.

• Chapter 5: Stake Leadership (minor updates).

• Chapter 8: Elders Quorum (new chapter).

• Chapter 9: Relief Society (new chapter).

• Chapter 12: Primary (minor updates).

• Chapter 13: Sunday School (new chapter).

• Chapter 15: Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (minor updates).

• Chapter 17: Teaching the Gospel (new chapter).

• Chapter 18: Priesthood Ordinances and Blessings (minor update).

• Chapter 24: Preparing and Recommending Missionaries (minor update).

• Chapter 26: Temple Recommends (minor update).

• Chapter 29: Meetings in the Church (new section added to the chapter).

• Chapter 30: Callings in the Church (a few updates to the Chart of Callings).

• Chapter 32: Repentance and Church Membership Councils (minor update).

• Chapter 35: Physical Facilities (minor update).

• Chapter 38: Church Policies and Guidelines (policy updates in 38.1.5, 38.6 and 38.7).

For more specific details on changes within the chapters, visit http://churchofjesuschrist.org.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!