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The Personal Side of the Church Handbook Update


OPINION, by Jeffery Borders

For most people, updates in the Church General Handbook go relatively unnoticed. They are usually minor changes to wording or policy that don’t make waves among the membership. The Church has historically updated the Handbook 2-3 times a year since retiring the old Handbook 1 (blue handbook) and Handbook 2 (red handbook). In a recent update, the Church revised the language to allow converts to be confirmed either at the baptismal service or in sacrament meetings. (see section 18.) This update caught my eye because it was significant to my experience joining the Church.

I’m an adult(ish) convert. I say adult(ish) because I was 19, so while technically an adult, I sure didn’t feel like it at times. I joined the church during my freshman year in college due to the testimony and example of my wife (my girlfriend at the time). But that is a whole story for another time.

I was baptized on September 29th, 2001, by my brother-in-law and the next day was confirmed a member of the Church in Sacrament. I didn’t think much of getting confirmed the next day, but I had questions when I learned that primary kids were confirmed right after their baptism. No one had a good answer as to why converts had to wait a day to be confirmed. I heard it was to make sure the convert made it to church the next day, which seemed reductive. Why would the choice to be baptized and confirmed as an 8-year-old be any different than an adult convert? My conviction of the Gospel was not in question. Some might even argue that an adult convert’s conviction might be more fervent than a child of record, as they often are choosing to walk away from a very different path in life and choose Jesus.

Suffice it to say, I never got a good answer. But I didn’t let it stop my progression. Interestingly enough, as a ward mission leader, I witnessed several occasions when a recent convert did not show up to be confirmed. This made me wonder why we would not want them to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost right away. I would think the fire of the Holy Ghost would be even more crucial as a confirmatory witness immediately following baptism rather than waiting.

I’ve had this question for many years, but it hasn’t caused me to question the Church or Leaders. It was a policy I didn’t understand, and I didn’t necessarily have to because my conversion was to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and being a part of his true and living church. This was one policy, like needing to wait a year after a civil marriage to be sealed, that I didn’t have good answers, and I was okay with that. The civil marriage policy did change, but not before my marriage. I believe it would have made my family feel more a part of the celebration. We did a small ring exchange at our reception, but it wasn’t the same, and many of my family members expressed disappointment that they could not be part of the sealing. I don’t hold the Church at fault for these feelings, it is a part of life, and for better or worse, we are in charge of our reactions and feelings. But I think a civil wedding right before would have changed the whole feeling and would probably have stopped a few of my relatives from threatening to disown me.

That may not seem like a big change, but for adult converts, it really is, just like the policy on civil marriages before sealings. Adult converts now have the same opportunity as children of record to be able to receive such a wonderful gift after their baptism. I don’t know that one day’s difference will change the conviction of most adult converts, but it will be a beautiful and welcome addition to adult convert baptismal services.

So what is the bottom line? For me, I appreciate being in a true and living Church. It’s true because it is the earthly vehicle Christ set up to help his brothers and sisters along the covenant path with Him. It’s true because it contains Christ’s teachings to the world. It’s living because it is a church of revelation. Policies (which are not doctrines but appendages to them) will continue to be adjusted to better minister to all of Heavenly Father’s children. I appreciate this about the church. I can count on the stability of the doctrines while still allowing for flexibility for programs and policies in all areas of this global Church of Christ, which continues to grow.

I would encourage those who have questions about policies to hold firm. You may not get answers soon or ever, but don’t let that distract you from the truths of Christ’s doctrines and his promises to us as we seek to draw close to him.


Ward Radio News is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) and does not officially represent the Church. The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily represent the position of Ward Radio News.

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The main reasons why "good answers are never explained" is the old timers rule the interpretation of church deep unknown answers. You have to ask local church leadership. LOL's. You will get different answers based on individual knowledge. But generally speaking, just move forward -as you did. Answers will always be fulfill by way of sincere pray, at later times.

As the way your marriage took place, mine was the same. You must show everyone and God to know where your beliefs stand. Let those family members who are in the terrestrial kingdom work their way to celestial kingdom. It's a process we all make.

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I was always told convert Confirmations were done in Sacrament meeting so the converts could be recognized and fellowshipped by the whole ward. Many probably did not make it to the baptism.

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Jeffery Borders
Jeffery Borders
13 Ιουν
Απάντηση σε

Good thoughts, but you would still recognize and sustain them as the newest member of the ward the following Sunday. Confirming in front of everyone doesn’t necessarily increase fellowship. But it is worth considering. Thanks for commenting.

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