"There is so much more to this adjustment than just shortening the Sunday meetinghouse schedule," the apostle said. "This Sunday schedule allows more time for a home evening and to study the gospel at home on Sunday, or at other times as individuals and families may choose."
Here are six takeaways that will hopefully help members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called the Mormon church, better understand how Sunday services will proceed starting in 2019.
1. Sacrament meetings should have minimal announcements. Local church leaders should give consideration to speakers, hymns and musical numbers.
"The Sunday church meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament meeting, each Sunday, focused on the Savior, the ordinance of the sacrament and spiritual messages," Elder Cook said.
2. Church members should become familiar with the "Come, Follow Me" curriculum for individuals and families, which is designed to significantly enhance gospel study in the home.
"In pilot test stakes across the world there was a highly favorable response to the new 'Come, Follow Me' home resource," Elder Cook said. "Many reported that they progressed from reading scriptures to actually studying the scriptures. It was also commonly felt the experience was faith-promoting and had a wonderful impact on the ward."
3. Second-hour classes, including Priesthood and Relief Society, Young Women, Primary and Sunday School, will not begin with a prayer or hymn but will close with prayer.
For Priesthood and Relief Society, first-Sunday council meetings will be discontinued.
Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood holders will no longer meet together, although they may meet together briefly if a special need exists. They will instead gather in their respective quorums. Young Women will also meet in their respective classes.
Primary's schedule will be divided into three parts: a 25-minute segment with prayer, scripture or article of faith, talk and singing time with music that supports scriptures studied in class; a five-minute transition to class; and a 20-minute class with a lesson from "Come, Follow Me — For Primary." If the Primary is large enough to separate into junior and senior groups, the schedule can be reversed.
4. The Gospel Principles class, usually reserved for new members, investigators or members who are learning basic gospel principles, will be discontinued.
These members will now be taught by ward and full-time missionaries from lessons in Preach My Gospel outside of regular church meetings. These members will now attend Sunday School, Priesthood quorums, Relief Society, Young Women classes or Primary in their respective wards.
5. Other temporary courses, such as temple preparation, missionary preparation, family history, and strengthening marriage and family, will not be held during the second hour.
These courses may be taught at other times at the bishop's discretion for people based on needs.
The teacher council meeting will take place quarterly during the second hour.
6. Why wait until 2019 to start?
Elder Cook gave two reasons. First, to allow for time to distribute the "Come, Follow Me" materials; and second, for presidents and bishops to arrange meeting schedules so some wards can meet earlier in the day.
The greatest goal and ultimate blessing of these changes will be deep and lasting conversion. Members are encouraged to counsel together and seek revelation for implementing these adjustment, Elder Cook said.
"As leaders have sought revelation, the guidance received over the past few years is to strengthen the sacrament meeting, honor the Sabbath day, and encourage and assist parents and individuals to make their homes a source of spiritual strength and increased faith — a place of joy and happiness," Elder Cook said.
"The announcements made today will result in profound blessings for those who enthusiastically embrace the adjustments and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We will become closer to our Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, of whom I am a sure witness."
Want to know more? Read the Frequently Asked Questions provided by the church.