New Church Handbook of Instructions -- What did you think?

I saw the Worldwide Leadership broadcast last night with the changes to the new Church Handbook of Instructions.

If you missed it, here's what I thought the highlights were:

  • Presidents and counselors will have full copy of Book 2. No more slimmed down versions. (Sorry secretaries -- I keep telling you/me we aren't part of the presidency. And that's okay.)
  • No more standing Activities Committees - ward activities to be planned via the ward council. To me, this means more FAMILY events and coordination between the auxiliaries! Yay!
  • No more "welfare" meeting
  • PEC to be shortened to approximately 30 minutes; may include RS president when needed. Suggested time to meet is before Ward Council
  • Ward council to be held more often. Probably twice a month.
  • Bishops to delegate more spiritual counseling responsibilities to Elder's Quorum and High Priest Group Leaders. This is brilliant, and the one thing that I was surprised to hear. Bishops, as presidents of the Aaronic Priesthood, are primarily responsible for the temporal welfare of members. Melchizedek Priesthood are responsible for the spiritual welfare of members. It's a realignment that coincides with their relative positions, and makes the EQP and HPGL more involved.
  • Leaders admonished to take family situations -- especially families with minor children -- into account more when assigning callings.
  • Stronger emphasis on family support. Get parents involved in solving problems
  • Section added with a list of essential parts of church organization that are uniform throughout the church, along with a list of lesser auxiliary things that can left out or modified according to local needs.

I could hardly sleep last night! I'm so excited about this new handbook! With the exception of the assigning Bishop's counseling duties to the Melchizedek leaders, I have preached on almost every one of these things to anyone who'd listen. And some who didn't! Ha! I am delighted and can't wait to see this working throughout the church!!!!!!

I am ecstatic! We are truly being led by inspired leaders who are helping us to direct our activities to help our families. That God will continue to bless them and help us implement their vision by careful use of the new Church Handbook of Instructions is my prayer.


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Nicole's picture

The Sharing Time Schedule is

The Sharing Time Schedule is giving me some difficulty. A 10 minute break seems like such a long time. Our primary is not that big. I am worried about them revolting and wondering off. Any suggestions on how to keep this organized? Does this mean there will be 2 breaks? One for Junior and one for Senior primary? Also, to clarify...there will be TWO Talks, Prayers, Scriptures, etc....correct??? Each at the beginning of sharing time? I am worried this will cut into our allotted time for sharing time, which already seems to go by so quickly.

Friend's picture

Hi Jenny, Thank you for

Hi Jenny,

Thank you for sharing your insights on the changes in the new CHI. I like particularlty the topic about welfare. Could you elaborate a little bit about having "no more ward welfare meeting". What is it's implication? That does mean it's a redundance of ward council meeting? Also , could you refer me to the exact paragraph that talks about "Bishops to delegate more spiritual counseling responsibilities to Elder's Quorum and High Priest Group Leaders and Bishops, as presidents of the Aaronic Priesthood, are primarily responsible for the temporal welfare of members."?

This is a great site. Thanks for creating this.

Friend's picture

Hi Jenny, Thank you for

Hi Jenny,

Thank you for sharing your insights on the changes in the new CHI. I like particularlty the topic about welfare. Could you elaborate a little bit about having "no more ward welfare meeting". What is it's implication? That does mean it's a redundance of ward council meeting? Also , could you refer me to the exact paragraph that talks about "Bishops to delegate more spiritual counseling responsibilities to Elder's Quorum and High Priest Group Leaders and Bishops, as presidents of the Aaronic Priesthood, are primarily responsible for the temporal welfare of members."?

This is a great site. thanks for creating this.

Anonymous's picture

Would it be appropriate to

Would it be appropriate to change the lessons order around to match a monthly focus on a particular personal progress value? For example January is integrity, so all the Sunday lessons taught that month are on integrity (lessons 23,34,29,37 in that order) then February: individual worth, lesson 1,39 and so on... This seems to be an idea growing rapidly here in Utah county. The YW/YM resource guides, in years past, have said.."please teach the lessons in the order printed" Yet the new 2011 does not. Has this changed?
I personally love the lessons and feel their order is significant, yet i have been unable to find any current (2011) information on this topic.

Jenny Smith's picture

Here's the quote you're

Here's the quote you're looking for:

Another major theme in Handbooks 1 and 2 is to reduce the workload of the bishop. Partly this is done by allowing some flexibility in meetings. Just as important, Handbook 2 seeks to reduce the workload of the bishop by enhancing the role of the ward council and its members. They are to act not just as representatives of their quorums and auxiliary organizations but, with their counselors and organizations, to receive delegation to assist the bishop on matters of importance to the whole ward. Quorum and auxiliary leaders will also assist the bishop by helping in the rescue role of activation and retention of their members. UAdd a Note

The roles of elders quorum presidents and high priests group leaders are significantly enhanced in the new handbooks. These leaders and their counselors have increased responsibilities to help individual quorum or group members, both spiritually and temporally. Handbook 2 directs them to “encourage quorum and group members to fulfill their priesthood duties, especially their duties as husbands and fathers” (7.3.2). They are also directed to work with their “counselors and with home teachers … and others in reaching out and ministering to those in their organizations and others who need assistance” (4.5.1) In order to accomplish these vital ecclesiastical responsibilities, these priesthood leaders will have to delegate extensively and may need to reduce some temporal service demands, such as helping members move.

It's from Elder Oaks' presentation

As for no more welfare, this means that confidential welfare issues will be addressed during the 30 minute PEC meeting before ward council, sometimes including the RS president. Ward council will address non-confidential *whole* or *general* ward and individual needs as a team.

I think it's great to involve the Primary and youth leaders in discussing non-confidential needs. If the new meeting structure works in its ideal form, ward/auxiliary activities will be catered to suit needs as determined by the council, instead of the "fill-a-date" style meetings we've had before, like HP parties, Primary quarterly activities, ward activities, etc. In short, the LDS approach to activity planning has completely changed. Instead of a requirement to do x number of meetings per year, leaders now determine a need through discussion in ward council and THEN plan an activity to fill that need.

It's brilliant.

Elder Oaks mentioned that further detail on the new structure will come at the next WW training meeting.

Jenny Smith's picture

To clarify -- no, there will

To clarify -- no, there will not be two talks at the beginning of each sharing time. I'm talking about one set of talks/prayers/scriptures for the Junior Primary and a second set of talk/prayer/scripture for Senior Primary. Double the children will be reached because you'll be using two pools of children.

Yes, there will be two breaks.

I've posted a little bit more information on this topic in a comment lower down -- you'll want to read on to find it.

Jenny Smith's picture

Since there isn't a

Since there isn't a directive, you should approach the Stake leadership for an answer.

The lessons do not correlate with a monthly value, nor is there a directive on assigning them. I wouldn't do it personally. I don't have a problem with emphasizing a value each month, but why try to assign lessons to the values -- it's the square peg, round hole thing, IMO.

It won't matter too long anyway New lessons will be out soon for YW. I can't wait to see them updated!

Jenny Smith's picture

Here's the quote from Elder

Here's the quote from Elder Cook about the length of PEC meetings: 

The priesthood executive committee (PEC) meets regularly to consider priesthood matters but need not consider matters that will be discussed by the ward council. In practical terms, PEC meetings in most areas will probably be decreased in length of time. For convenience, this committee could meet just before the ward council.

The PEC and the ward council will perform all of the functions that were previously performed in a separate welfare committee meeting. Accordingly, the welfare meeting will no longer be held.

I honestly can't remember why I said 30 minutes here.  Maybe it was in our discussion earlier, or since ward council is 60-90 minutes, there are 30 minutes left in a "2 hours of meetings" schedule.  Generally, PEC was a 1-hour meeting.  You should be looking for ways to shorten it.

From CHI 2, 18.1:

Meetings should not be longer than needed.

Leaders should ensure that Sunday meetings are not so numerous that there is little time for parents and children to be together on that day. Where possible, leaders should avoid scheduling Sunday meetings other than those in the standard three-hour schedule, leadership meetings in the early mornings, and occasional meetings in the evenings.

Anonymous's picture

I just came home from our

I just came home from our Leadership almost in tears. The new handbook is wonderful but (being in the Stake Presidency as Secretary) I was not allowed to get a handbook. My President has said many times that I am her third counselor (as most secretaries are). I just don't understand!

Jenny Smith's picture

I'm a secretary, too, and I

I'm a secretary, too, and I don't have a copy of the new handbook either--much as I'd love to. I am so sorry you are feeling down -- it's difficult sometimes to be a secretary and feel left out or not important. I hope you feel the importance of your calling is not diminished in any way by not receiving the new text. Secretaries are vitally important supports for their presidencies. I'm so sorry! I'll keep you in my prayers.

Anonymous's picture

When I went to the link for

When I went to the link for the new handbook, all I got was a table of contents. When you click on what you'd think are the pages, there are only helps for the organizations. Is there something else I need to do? I did sign in to my LDS acct.

Elsie Storey's picture

Hope you find your answers.

Hope you find your answers. To be an efficient and effective secretary, you are entitled to understand your calling. You help make things happen!  If you don't get a copy of your responsibilities as outlined, ask your bishop.  They have a copy of that in the office and you probably could copy that part necessary to execute your calling. Good luck sis. 



Elizabeth's picture

I think the new handbook is

I think the new handbook is simply wonderful, and truly and example of divine inspiration! It's so helpful that each auxiliary can now better understand the function of one another. Wards can grow closer and be united more as families, the way The Lord intends us to be.
Secretaries, don't be dismayed at not receiving the handbook. Any information the you need can be given to you by your auxiliary leaders! Secretaries are vital to the Presidency's they serve. I personally can a test to this as a RS Pres. and having served as a RS secretary in the past. Having or not having a handbook does not make one calling more or less vital. It's not a competition. Have faith that the brethren are acting under the inspiration of The Lord. If Heavenly Father felt it was important for all to have a handbook, I am sure we would have it. It is so important for we as church members to work together and never feel as if one calling is better or more important than the next. Each is needed in it's own way to serve and build up the Kingdom of God.

Denyehl's picture

In the new Church Handbook

In the new Church Handbook there is a list of who should get the Handbook, Secretaries aren't listed. I would love for my Secretary to have a Church Handbook, but we have been counseled to read a section from our Church Handbook at the beginning of every Presidency meeting and discuss it. There are many opportunities to go over the Handbook and discuss the sections that are important to your auxiliary.
Just think of what could happen if this book got into the wrong hands, that is my thought on why there is limited access.

Ann's picture

Thank you for this blog on

Thank you for this blog on the new handbooks. I am part of a Young Singles ward and was recently called to the Relief Society Secretary position. I AM THRILLED about this position. I was baptized a grand total of 8 weeks ago. My bishop has refered to me as a sponge and when I was set apart he gave me a manual. Since I am so new to the church, it has really helped me to learn about exactly who does what and what I am supposed to be doing in my new calling.

I hope that this doesnt make anyone upset that I was given one and other secretaries weren't. Since I did not grow up in the church, it has been a HUGE resource for me. I feel blessed that my bishop felt the need to give me one.

Sheila's picture

I like the idea of each

I like the idea of each leader being able to look up the guidelines for the other areas. They didn't have enough copies for each person in our presidency so hopefully we will get more soon.

MOMtheBOM's picture

I missed the meeting!!!

I missed the meeting!!! I wasn't able to attend due to a sprained back. I am so glad I'm able to read an overview. Thank you. And I am RS Sec as well as the 3rd Sunday teacher. I'll just have to read the info on-line.

Anonymous's picture

I am a counselor in our stake

I am a counselor in our stake rs presidency, our secretary in our stake rs presidency received a book and she is a vital part of our organization. Perhaps ask your stake pres or your rs president to go to bat for you to get a manual.

Jenny Smith's picture

This sounds harsh, but if

This sounds harsh, but if your secretary got a copy it was not authorized. Auxiliary presidents and 2 counselors were named as those to receive a copy of Book 2. Not receiving a copy is not an indicator of the vitality of a calling. Many other teachers and leaders did not receive copies either and are no less vital to Church operations.

Again, I think the limited distribution was a cost of printing issue. The handbook is available online here for secretaries and others:

Jeans's picture

Despite sadness about

Despite sadness about secretaries - I was delighted to see the emphasis on broad participation in councils, on ministering rather than administering programs, and on grounding what we do in doctrine and revelation rather than procedure and endless meetings. And to see "auxiliaries" (despite the name implying secondary status) being placed on equal footing with "quorums" in where the work in a ward gets done. Like, like, like.

More of my thoughts here.

Anita's picture

Wonderful training and great

Wonderful training and great new handbook. Here's what I don't get--why can't the Church post this on its website? If 80% of the members' questions could be answered by understanding the handbook, as Elder Oaks said, why limit access?

Jenny Smith's picture

Excellent point. I suspect

Excellent point. I suspect that the limitation regarding distribution was more a function of initial cost of printing than anything. Not printing copies for secretaries probably cut printing costs by 15-20% by my guess. As for Elder Oaks' "don't photocopy it" instruction, I'm not sure what that really meant because.... drum roll, please ....

The new Church Handbook of Instructions Book 2 is online here:

And the church has debuted a new Serving in the Church section:

that corresponds with the new handbook.

The broadcast is online here:

MBurt's picture

Here's what I found about

Here's what I found about Handbook 1. Perhaps they distributed it limitedly and asked that we not photocopy/scan is so that it doesn't get in the wrong hands. Supposedly the handbook has been put on other religious websites and dissected or taken out of context.
Unauthorized distribution
Handbook 1 is not available for sale to the general public or the general church membership. The text of Handbook 2 is available for free on the church's official website. In the past, unauthorized copies of the restricted handbook have been made available on the internet. The church asserts copyright over the contents of the Handbook and prohibits its duplication.[3] The handbook emphasizes that it has been prepared solely for use by general and local Church officers to administer the affairs of the Church."[3][5] The copyright to the Handbook is owned by Intellectual Reserve, Inc., a corporation owned by the LDS Church which owns the church's intellectual property rights.

Jenny Smith's picture

Handbook TWO is the version

Handbook TWO is the version we're talking about here. TWO is the version that had limited distribution at the WW training meeting in November. Handbook one has already been distributed to relevant leaders. I think it was last year.... Handbook two is available online as you state.

Handbook two is available for your iPhone using the Church's app, btw.

Handbook ONE is also now available online at to Bishops and Stake Presidents only. You can find out about that at LDS Media Talk:

Anonymous's picture

HI I posted the earlier

HI I posted the earlier comment about how our secretary received one. She clearly got one (in good faith)from the person handing them out. In reading thru the materials, definitely seems the secretary position should have one- much of their supportive role is outlined in the book.
I agree w/you that everyone who could benefit (ie teachers) didn't receive one. It is good the training manual/broadcast is online for all to study. Hopefully there will be an option for wards to purchase additional copies for those who could benefit.

Anonymous's picture

Hello All - I've just

Hello All -

I've just finished reading through the entire handbook and listening to the broadcast - whew, lots of information! I am so glad to see everything put together in one place. As mother of young children whose husband also has a difficult calling, I appreciate the council on being aware of the burden placed on families.

I am new to this site, so I apoligize if this post is "off topic", but I have a question maybe some of you can help clarify. The section in the handbook on primary does not address quarterly activity days nor does the activities section (perhaps I missed it?). I was doing some further looking and saw the wonderful primary FAQ section on the church website - see,17884,7701-1,00.html. One of the ?'s states that quarterly activity days are no longer part of the program. However, that particular question is under the heading of the Faith in God program.

Hmm, anyone care to clarify? Does primary still hold quarterly activities or not? I plan on asking the bishopric counselor over primary, but was just wondering if I missed an obvious answer. Thanks!

Jenny Smith's picture

Hm. I've never heard of

Hm. I've never heard of "quarterly activity days" until reading the FAQ you linked to, but I have heard of "quarterly Primary activities". I think "quarterly Primary activities" have been eliminated. They are no longer mentioned in the new handbook.

With the new guidelines on cutting back the number of activities and coordinating with the ward council, I think planning a Primary activity would work like this: if a need were determined for a Primary-only activity (I can't even imagine when this would ever happen, but it's possible), the Primary president would coordinate said activity through discussion at the ward council level. Most Primary needs probably could be met through participation in a full-ward activity.

Here's some relevant text from the Activities section: "Under the direction of the bishopric, the ward council oversees the planning of ward activities. When an activity is for a specific organization or group in the ward, it is planned under the direction of the priesthood or auxiliary leaders who are responsible for the organization. ... Leaders ensure that activities strengthen the family rather than compete with it. Some activities can be family centered, giving families opportunities to participate together. Activities should support parents by teaching their children to be faithful followers of Christ. Leaders also ensure that activities do not become so numerous that they put undue burdens on members. ... Those who plan activities strive to have participants be actively involved, since participating is usually more beneficial than just observing. "

In short, Primaries can still hold activities, but they are coordinated after determining a specific need and after counseling with the ward council. The activity would be directed by the Primary presidency, probably through a committee of specialists. The old requirement of holding a Primary activity quarterly is gone.

Hope that helps.

** Children may need to be included in activity planning for their Faith in God requirements. It'd be fun to have kids on an activity planning committee! **

Another Jenny's picture

In regards to printing

In regards to printing costs/secretaries, etc... we have several branches in our stake who received only enough books for their branch presidencies (no auxiliaries) because they are on "back order." They are grateful to have the online version.

Jenny Smith's picture

I saw this major change to

I saw this major change to the Primary Schedule on the Primary FAQ:

How has the Primary schedule changed?
Opening or closing exercises are eliminated. Sunday Primary is normally held for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Children in the nursery stay in their nursery class for the entire time. The other children attend two sessions. In one session, children meet together for 50 minutes for sharing time. In the other session, they divide into smaller classes for 40-minute lessons taught by their Primary teachers. The children and teachers who attend sharing time and classes have a 10-minute break between the two sessions. (See Handbook 2, 11.4.1.)

The 10 minute break is genius! I hope it helps restless children be more comfortable in Primary.

Also, with talks moved to Sharing Time, larger Primaries with junior and senior groups will be able to allow twice as many children to participate in prayers, talks, and scripture sharing.

Nancy's picture

You mentioned that opening

You mentioned that opening and closing exercises have been eliminated. However, the handbook still suggests that we have time to recite scriptures, articles of faith, and messages or talks by a member of the bishopric and children's talks. In my ward this is what we do during "closing exercises". So I suppose that now it is up to us as to when we do it.

Jenny Smith's picture

Not exactly. The time during

Not exactly. The time during which you will have these talks/prayers/scriptures, etc, is at the end/beginning of the Sharing Time (50 minute) portion of Primary. Right now it's likely that your Primary is coming back together as a group for closing exercises. That group re-assembly has been eliminated as stated at What you've been calling opening or closing exercises is now just a part of Sharing Time.

Here's how the schedule might work based on 9 AM Church:

    9:00 AM - Sacrament Meeting

    10:20 AM - Junior Primary goes to CTR & Sunbeam classes; Senior Primary goes to Sharing Time (including talks/prayers/scripture/music time/lesson)

    11:00 AM - Junior Primary has 10-minute break

    11:10 AM - Senior Primary has 10-minute break; Junior Primary begins Sharing Time (including talks/prayers/scripture/music time/lesson)

    11:20 AM - Senior Primary goes to classes (Valiant 8-11, etc)

    12:00 PM - Dismiss.

The new schedule will double the number of children who are able to give talks and participate in Sharing Time, AND give the kids a break during the 3-hour block. I love it!

Anonymous's picture

But how are you going to

But how are you going to handle that break? What will the children do? Having that many children out in the halls waiting in line for drinks or going to the bathroom seems like it would breed chaos. Do the teachers have a break or do they go with the kids to supervise? The break is a good idea but a little logistically puzzling . . . especially with large primaries. Any ideas?

Jenny Smith's picture

10 minutes isn't really that

10 minutes isn't really that long. If it was my class, I'd haul my kids outside for a lap around the building. Then we'd line up at the door, have a reverence reminder, and go in for water/potty and to our next class.

All the children will not be taking their break at the same time in a larger Primary. Only half of a large Primary would be on break at one time. Smaller Primaries will not have the same issues. If you have a larger Primary, you probably also have a larger building which means you have more than one bathroom and water fountain in your building. You could take the kids outside and go "the long way" to the water fountain farthest from your class so they can stretch and get their break.

And yes, the teachers supervise.

Here's the info from the handbook in Section 11.4.1:


Sunday Primary is normally held for 1 hour and 40 minutes while adults and youth attend priesthood meetings, Relief Society meeting, Young Women classes, and Sunday School.

Children in the nursery stay in their nursery class for the entire time, as outlined in the nursery manual, Behold Your Little Ones. The other children attend two sessions. In one session, children meet together for 50 minutes for sharing time. In the other session, they divide into smaller classes for 40-minute lessons taught by their Primary teachers.

The children and teachers who attend sharing time and classes have a 10-minute break between the two sessions. During this break, they prepare for the next session. Children may use the restroom or get a drink of water. Teachers supervise the children throughout the break.

The following charts show three options for scheduling Sunday Primary. When considering which option to follow, Primary leaders ensure that the older children attend sharing time at the same time as Aaronic Priesthood quorum meetings and Young Women classes. This will allow for a smooth transition for children when they reach age 12.

Option 1: The younger children and older children meet for sharing time in two different groups. During the first 50 minutes, one group meets for sharing time while the other group divides into classes for 40 minutes and has a 10-minute break. Then the two groups switch places, with the first group taking a 10-minute break before their classes begin.

Option 2: All the children meet together for sharing time first. Then they have a break and go to their classes.

Option 3: All the children go to their classes first. Then they have a break and meet together for sharing time.