The afternoon session of the two-day Mormon church conference begins Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Salt Lake City. More than 100,000 Latter-day Saints are expected in Salt Lake City this weekend for the church’s biannual general conference. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give carefully crafted speeches aimed at providing members with guidance and inspiration in five sessions that span Saturday and Sunday. They also make announcements about church statistics, new temples or initiatives. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published updates Friday to 15 chapters of its General Handbook, an online resource for leaders and members throughout the world. It included changes to five chapters and additional clarification about Church policies and guidelines.
A press release stated that, 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 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. The text is available to the public in English online and in the Gospel Library app. Translations into other languages will soon be underway.
As part of the update, a new section about medical marijuana was added. It states the drug may be used by members when prescribed by a licensed physician and dosage instructions are followed. The use of marijuana in smoking or vaping forms is still prohibited.
A section addressing suicide was also updated, to encourage greater sensitivity in ministering to those who are considering taking their lives. Leaders are counseled to provide ecclesiastical support and to help members obtain immediate professional help as needed.
Other policies were updated to address birth control, donating or selling sperm or eggs, fertility treatments, the occult, sex education, and surrogate motherhood. Several of the updates include doctrinal explanations to help people understand the Church’s position.