If you are a member of a stake presidency, stake clerk, stake executive secretary, high councilor, stake Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary or Sunday School presidency, bishopric, ward clerk, ward executive secretary, high priest group leader or assistant, elders quorum presidency, ward Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School presidency or a ward mission leader, you may have already been invited to attend a broadcast of the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting on Saturday November 13, 2010.  At this meeting the unveiling of the new 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions will take place.

Many Bishops have had the new handbooks since the first of September, at which time a notice was sent instructing that the handbooks should not be distributed in wards and branches until the November 13 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting.  Another notice followed on the 30th of September addressed to Area Authorities saying “Please remind your bishops and branch presidents that the handbooks are not to be distributed to anyone prior to November 13, nor should they be used in any leadership training before then.”

Nonetheless, Bishops have been perusing the instructions in the new handbook and preparing to make a few changes in procedure.  Further information is expected on the caring of the poor and needy, a mission of the Church which has recently received increased emphasis.  Additionally, one of the interesting new policies is the following, affecting those Priesthood holders who do not currently hold a temple recommend:

“Only a Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is worthy to hold a temple recommend may act as voice in confirming a person a member of the church, conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood, ordaining a person to an office in that priesthood, or setting apart a person to serve in a church calling.

As guided by the Spirit and the instructions of the next paragraph, bishops and stake presidents have the discretion to allow priesthood holders who are not fully temple worthy to perform or participate in some ordinances and blessings. However, presiding officers should not allow such participation if a priesthood holder has unresolved serious sins.

A bishop may allow a father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood to name and bless his children even if the father is not fully temple worthy. Likewise, a bishop may allow a father who is a priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder to baptize his children or to ordain his sons to offices in the Aaronic Priesthood. A Melchizedek Priesthood holder in similar circumstances may be allowed to stand in the circle for the confirmation of his children, for the conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood on his sons, or for the setting apart of his wife or children. However, he may not act as voice.” (pg. 140, 2010 CHI)

This stricter interpretation of who is allowed to perform ordinances seems to contradict instructions given by Boyd K. Packer concerning the administration of ordinances by family members, especially the father.  In a recent Conference address, Elder Packer made a distinction between priesthood authority and priesthood power:

“Priesthood is the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present. We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide. But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.” (Boyd K. Packer, The Power of the Priesthood, CR Apr 2010)

Elder Packer then recounted several stories about men who were less active who were called upon to give priesthood ordinations to their sons.  In one case a young man was being ordained an elder in preparation for a mission.  Though his father had not ordained his other boys and did not expect to ordain this one, Elder Packer called him forward to perform the ordination.  “Thank goodness he was an elder,” said Packer.  “Had he not been, he soon could have been! In the military they would call that a battlefield commission. Sometimes such things are done in the Church.”  The entire talk seemed aimed at encouraging fathers to step up and perform priesthood ordinances and blessings though they may currently be living slightly below the higher standards necessary for temple worthiness.  He continued,

“We need everyone. The tired or worn out or lazy and even those who are bound down with guilt must be restored through repentance and forgiveness. Too many of our priesthood brethren are living below their privileges and the Lord’s expectations.”

Readers, what is your reaction to this guidance on priesthood ordinances, especially barring fathers who do not have current temple recommends from confirming their children following baptism? Do you see a discrepancy between the instructions in the 2010 CHI and Boyd K. Packer’s talk?  Do you think that with the new policy, Elder Packer’s intentions are again being edited?  What other surprises are in store on November 13th?