Typically, few people outside the church will pay attention to the annual Mormon General Conference, but the symposium made a big splash this year when the elders announced some big canonical changes. Among the changes are two new apostles and a rather large change to priesthood quorums, the meetings of top Mormon officials.

Representation

One of the biggest changes that has the Mormon community excited is the addition of two apostles of color, one from Asia and another from Latin America. Elder Gerrit W. Gong, an Asian American and Elder Ulisses Soares of Brazil will now be a part of the highest leadership of the church, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

This is big news for an organization that, until 1978, actively preached that blacks couldn't be leaders because they were of 'lesser blood' in the eyes of the church.

This announcement coincided with the opening of seven new churches including firsts in India, Russia, and Nicaragua. Utah will get its 19th while Virginia, the Philippines, and Argentina can also expect new houses of worship. The LDS is rapidly expanding by any measures, increasing their number of churches by about 20%.

Restructuring

Most of the other major announcements centered around how the church will operate. There were a few changes to the meeting structures, a big deal for an organization that holds hundreds of leadership meetings a year, and a change to how preaching is done by youth leaders in the church.

The women's meeting and priesthood were reduced to once a year, while the regional Elders and High Priests meets have actually been combined. President Nelson said this will help the church more effectively communicate the message of God to its followers. Still, some in the church are disappointed that what they consider the biggest change to the actual structure of the church will only affect men, as women cannot hold certain leadership positions.

One last move that has some people relieved is the abolition of home teaching, the practice where young men of the church would go to the homes of their fellow worshipers to discuss their spirituality. The equivalent practice for women was also eliminated. The leadership of the LDS hopes that this change will restructure people's time inside the house of worship.

Concurrently, they also released a quarter million high priests, meaning the priests will now be allowed to intermingle with the rest of the community. These are all steps taken to increase mentorship in the church.

It seems the church is energized at this moment. The leadership and community alike are excited about these changes and hope to see their reach expand to around 16 million more souls worldwide in the coming years.

And just to recap: