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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.

Why I left the Mormon church

In order to have better Church experiences we had to have better teachers. Curriculum writers realized there are a lot more hours in the week than the one or two hours members spend in class at Church. Because of that, they felt the need for more home learning. Recognizing that Sunday School — as well as the other classes at Church — is still an important opportunity for Church members to gather and worship together, curriculum writers decided they needed to elevate Sunday worship. After testing the curriculum in seven countries and 35 stakes over four years, the curriculum team said that the results were powerful.

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Anderson, a product manager. It has sort of elevated how we read and study the scriptures. All Church classes — Primary, youth Sunday School and adult Sunday School — will study the same passages of scripture each week. In , the Church will study from the New Testament.

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Rather than giving each adult member a class study guide at the beginning of the year, every household will be provided with a home study guide that goes over the scriptures for the week that will be discussed during Sunday classes. Each week includes a few pages of content that contains the scripture passage, an introduction paragraph, ideas and prompts for scripture study and activities, as well as ideas for family home evening. The new manual will be available digitally through the gospel apps and online sometime after general conference, and units should expect to get their hard copies near the end of the year.

Relief Society, Priesthood, Young Men and Young Women will continue to follow the doctrinal approach pattern that has been established. Although the new resource provides activities to do as a family, the home study is applicable for individuals who live alone or whose family members are not interested in studying with them.

After Junca was sexually assaulted, she waited — throwing up and shaking with adrenaline — in a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse for her mission president to arrive from where he lived, more than two hours away. No one offered medical care or the chance to talk to a counselor that day or the next, when her mission president informed her he was sending her home.

MUSLIMS VS. MORMONS

After Cicotte was attacked, no one offered to connect her with a therapist over the two days she accompanied her injured companion to a hospital to get stitches in her cut hand, talked with police, flew back to the mission home and decided to return to her family — a decision she said her mission president told her he opposed. The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not name victims of sexual assault. Junca and Cicotte have agreed to the use of their maiden names. Any missionary assaulted today will encounter a different, and better, support system, Nielson says.

It includes offering medical and mental health care and involving the missionary in decisions about whether he or she will return home. Well-meaning people often try to take the burden of decisions off victims, she says. So allowing them to make choices, and have the space to be able to make choices, is wonderful. Other guidance for mission presidents and missionaries is also being updated, Nielson says, to encourage better reporting and tracking of safety incidents.

The current missionary handbook notes that the mission president resolves all complaints — issues raised with church headquarters or the mission department will be directed back to the mission president. Without that option, a female missionary serving in Puerto Rico recently took the unusual step of phoning her stake president, a regional LDS leader, on the U. Nielson also is urging the missionary department toward a new level of transparency about the hazards missionaries can face. The handbook tells missionaries to not write home with negative observations — but the intent was to advise against criticizing another culture, Nielson says.

To foster a franker discussion, the church is producing a set of safety videos that future missionaries can watch with their parents before they enter the field.

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Each video will focus on a different risk that missionaries face — including sexual assault, he says. A video shown to a Tribune reporter portrays a sister missionary choosing to ride in the back of a truck, rather than the cab, after a service project — and then being injured when she falls out.


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The sister safety committee has been reviewing scripts and video details, with the aim of releasing the videos in early As the church makes these changes, Nielson says, its mission presidents and their wives remain the No. The couples have different leadership styles and areas of expertise, he acknowledges, but he gives them consistent instruction. The online material includes topics such as ensuring the physical and mental health of missionaries. It draws on the mission president handbook and offers clips from past seminars and podcasts along with videos about legal and security issues.

Mission presidents have access to it during their three-year service. She served with her husband, a mission president in Brazil, from to Clayton, a retired physician, supervises hundreds of volunteer doctors in the mission field and monitors the world for potential health risks.

He helped change policy in to allow female missionaries in certain areas to wear slacks instead of skirts, a guard against the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Down another hall is Dennis Perkins, who directs mental health advisers volunteering in hundreds of missions. They can call on doctors, psychologists, attorneys and church security for advice or swift action for a mission president or missionary in need.

Cordon says she and her husband gave their missionaries phones with both of their numbers programmed in, and told them to call with any concerns. They often agree with State Department warnings, he explains, but sometimes have a different view, based on insights from local church leaders and members in an area. In May, on the recommendation of a regional security adviser, the church removed missionaries from Nicaragua, about half of those serving there.

Three weeks later , the adviser went back to see if the remaining missionaries were safe. Missionaries continue to serve in the five states in Mexico, including Guerrero, where the State Department has warned Americans not to travel. Full stop. But in early , two Catholic priests were murdered in Guerrero, according to Catholic News Service. Weeks later, the parents and year-old sister of a Catholic nun were kidnapped and killed.

According to Mexico News Daily, the young woman had been tortured and beheaded. After the deaths, the order of nuns withdrew from the area. Junca remains frustrated that LDS missionaries still serve in Guerrero, and she believes she should not have been assigned to the area before her assault. I think any person with any common sense would say yeah, probably. At the training seminar for new mission presidents, church President Russell M. Missionaries are generally home by 9 p.

But while the church might be promising statistically valid levels of safety for the entire missionary force, missionaries and their parents are hearing — and expecting — that each missionary will be safe, Knowlton says. Junca says her faith and her environment gave her the sense of security she felt. This is to protect privacy, Crittenden says. Neither Junca nor Cicotte can recall that their mission president ever passed along information from local members. They both got advice directly from members occasionally — warnings to not walk around after dark, for example.

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Knowlton has long advocated for the church to customize rules for individual missions — down to changing what missionaries wear — and empowering local church members to shape policies. Thirty years ago, after two elders were assassinated in Bolivia, Knowlton presented a paper at a Sunstone symposium , a summit for Mormon research, outlining changes the church could make to better protect missionaries.

The church was continuing to send missionaries to the country even as the political climate grew dangerously anti-American, he says. Missionaries and church buildings were closely associated with the United States, he said, which made them targets. He was later called in by his stake president and told that his publicly airing such concerns was inappropriate, and had actually put missionaries in further danger. Four years later, he was denied tenure at Brigham Young University, a high-profile decision that was linked to his criticisms.