On 14 December 2017, a new directive from the First Presidency was released outlining changes to certain things related to youth performing baptisms for the dead in LDS temples, as well as to the annual meeting held to prepare 11-year-old boys to receive the priesthood in the coming calendar year. The changes primarily involve now allowing Priests in the Aaronic Priesthood (typically ages 16 to 18) to perform these baptisms, as well as to serve as official witnesses to them (tasks previously performed in temples only by Melchizedek Priesthood temple recommend holders), and also to have members of the Young Women’s program now take on baptistry roles that up until now have been performed only by female (adult) temple workers. The “Priesthood Preview” meeting is now being re-named the “Temple and Priesthood Preparation” meeting, and will now include 11-year-olds of both sexes, along with their parents (who already attended with their young men about to turn 12).
In this two-part episode, we focus on initial reactions to the announcements. Why might these have come? And why now? What are the nature of the roles that these youth will now be able to perform? How do temple baptistries work now, and how might this change? Is this announcement an overall positive step for the church in terms of moving toward greater equality of women and men, or does is actually highlight even more the inequalities between the sexes and their roles in the church? Will young women and men, especially those who know each other well (fellow ward members, etc.) be able to be comfortable in these new roles when it comes to performing the ordinances and temple work? Will the intimacy of ritual and touching (even in such non-sexual ways like what is involved in baptism) make them, especially the young women, uncomfortable? And/Or might this stir feelings in either the young men or women that are something other than “sacred” in nature (at least in the temple setting)? We discuss all of the above, and more!
Our guides for this “initial reactions” podcast episode are the incredible Cynthia Winward, Bruce Van Orden, Kent Nuttall, and Rosalynde Welch. Each is wise, insightful, and experienced in the various aspects and issues at play regarding the changes in both main areas here: the temple baptistry and working with Young Women, Young Men, and Primary-age children. They each contribute wonderfully!
Please listen and then join in with your comments below!