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Latter-day Saint leaders call for shortened church, more 'home-centered' worship

SALT LAKE CITY — Latter-day Saints will pursue a worship environment that is “home-centered” and “church-supported,” as church services shift from three to two hours starting in January.

The new change was announced Saturday under the direction of President Russell M. Nelson, the council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

"As Latter-day Saints we have become accustomed to thinking of 'church' as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home. We need an adjustment to this pattern," President Nelson said. "It is time for home-centered church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward and stake buildings."

President Nelson opened up the first session of general conference by speaking of the desire to create more “balance” in the lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then requested that Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles describe the details of how this would be accomplished.

The yearslong rumors of a shortened church service heated up in weeks leading up to the conference, with many on social media and elsewhere discussing pilot programs of shorter worship services and speculating how a shortened structure would be accomplished.

Elder Cook put those rumors to rest Saturday when he announced the details of the change:

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— KSL Newsradio (@kslnewsradio) October 6, 2018

This change comes after a recent emphasis on Sabbath Day observance by church leaders, and will put a greater focus on the responsibility parents have to teach the gospel to their children.

The changes will also include an “integrated curriculum” designed to strengthen families and individuals through home study, as well as church worship. The church released a "sneak peek" of this curriculum on LDS.org.

"Rather than focusing on just the teaching in the weekly church-meeting block, much of the learning is to be done at home so that church learning becomes a support — rather than the primary source — to teaching and learning in the gospel," the church said in a statement on its website. "Curriculum writers realized there are a lot more hours in the week than the one or two hours members spend in class at church."

A new resource, entitled "Come, Follow Me — For Individuals and Families" will provide members with information about the lessons that will be taught in church each week, as well as additional study materials to use at home. Teachers will be given similar resources for each individual class.

The curriculum will require all church classes to center on the same passages of scripture each week. Instead of each adult member being given a class study guide at the beginning of the year, every household will be provided with the home study guide, "Come, Follow Me," the church said.

Among other things, these study guides will contain scripture passages that will be discussed during Sunday classes, as well as prompts for scripture study and other activities like the church's weekly "family home evening," which is held among individual families.

“The fact that the Lord is doing this now is an indication that He is not giving up on families and that (there are) benefits that come from teaching in the home,” Ted F. Barnes, one of the curriculum developers, said in a statement.

For more information and answers to frequently-asked questions about the changes, visit a statement from the church on its website.

For additional details, visit Deseret News.