According to a press release from Church Newsroom, President Russell M. Nelson announced any baptized member can act as a witness for a living baptism, and any member with a limited use temple recommend can witness for a proxy baptism. Any endowed member with a current temple recommend can witness for sealing ordinances, both living and proxy.
The change was announced Wednesday morning during a meeting between General Authorities and the First Presidency.
In the Church Newsroom press release, President Nelson said, “We are joyful about these changes. Imagine a beloved sister serving as a witness to the living baptism of her younger brother. Imagine a mature couple serving as witnesses in the temple baptistry as their grandson baptizes their granddaughter for and in behalf of a dear ancestor.”
President Nelson said of the changes to church policy, “Any adjustments made to ordinances and/or procedures do not change the sacred nature of the covenants being made. Adjustments allow for covenants to be planted in the hearts of people living in different times and circumstances.”
Amanda Abraham, a junior from Chicago majoring in hospitality and tourism, said she hopes these words from President Nelson will help strengthen members’ testimonies and help them have a better understanding of why such changes happen.
Sister Alexandra Erickson, a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said her reaction to the changes were “initially shock, but then peace.” She said with each recent change in the Church, she feels at peace because she understands they come from God.
Erickson added she believes this adjustment will get women more involved in the temple and will be helpful to temples with fewer workers.
Gaby Amaller, a sophomore from Canada majoring in business management, said when she first read the announcement she “had to read it twice, but I didn’t find it shocking. It felt good. It felt like it made sense.”
Amaller said she believes the change will help members feel more responsibility within the Church. “It’s added responsibility to all the members of the Church to remain faithful and worthy to be able to serve when needed.”
Amaller said she believes this change will get younger members involved and strengthen their testimonies. “I think more than ever, the youth of the Church need spiritual experiences to strengthen their testimonies.” She said for the youth to be able to serve as witnesses, they will be able to get more involved and learn more about Christ.
Abraham discussed how for those who were unable to witness before, ordinances can be much more meaningful. She said mothers will now be able to witness for their child’s baptism making it much more special for both the mother and the child.
She also said ordinances such as baptism “could have special meaning to [children] that don’t have a male figure in their life.”