As the 188th General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints comes to a close, it has once again made history. Six months ago, Church President Russell M. Nelson announced major organizational changes to programs that had been standing for at least half a century. The home teaching program which stood for some 50 years was changed to 'ministering' and expanded beyond formal contacts and regular home visits.

As the October General Conference opened, Nelson announced a change to Sunday services, reducing them by one hour and implementing a new home-based curriculum. As the last speaker at the last session of the conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, President Nelson stunned everyone by announcing 12 new temples.

Each one elicited 'oos' and 'aahs' from the 21,000-strong audience in the Conference Center. Here's more on each announcement.

What are the temples?

For those of whom may be not familiar with temples, they are special places where worthy, active, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints congregate to perform special ordinances for their deceased relatives. They believe it offers those who have passed on a chance for eternal exaltation. There are 159 such structures around the world, with another 40 or so under construction or announced.

They are ornate buildings, usually constructed of a local high-quality stone, with a steeple and an image of a golden angel blowing a trumpet. Usually located in prominent areas where they are built, many a person has gone by without a clue of who owns it, just noting that it is a beautiful building.

While non-members aren't allowed inside after they are formally dedicated, they hold open houses where everyone is invited to take a tour. Often 300,000 or more avail themselves of the opportunity.

Usually, new structures are announced during one of the opening session of General Conference. None were announced until President Nelson closed the conference.

After speaking of encouraging members to use the name 'Mormon' less often, he turned his attention to temples. Over the next five minutes, President Nelson announced 12 new temples, so many that a map was shown to chronicle where all of them were.

The new locations are Mendoza, Argentine: Salvador, Brazil: Yuba City, California: Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Yigo, Guam: Puebla, Mexico: Auckland, New Zealand: Davao, Philippines: San Juan, Puerto Rico: and Washington County, Utah.

Sunday Services

All churches usually have some sort of Sunday Service. The Catholic Church has the mass, while many others have services that usually span one to two hours. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is unique because it has a three-hour service, commonly called the bloc. The first hour is commonly called sacrament meeting, where the sacrament or communion is served. The second hour is Sunday School, while the third is gender-segregated into priesthood meeting and Relief Society meetings.

Under the new arrangement, a two-hour schedule will be used instead. Sunday School, Relief Society, and Priesthood all will rotate on a weekly basis. A new home-based lesson plan will be introduced to help families and members cover the extra hour of instruction lost.

The new change was implemented to help families and members less able to attend services.

The last year has been a major turning point for the organization of the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Traditions and institutions that have stood since the beginning have been changed and altered to better accomplish the increasingly worldwide membership. These are just the latest of many changes we've seen so far, with much more likely to come on the horizon.

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