The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has prohibited nearly all parishioners from carrying lethal weapons on church property.
Prior to the shift in policy, having a weapon on church grounds was considered "inappropriate."
The change was revealed in an update to a handbook sent electronically to local church leaders over the weekend.
"Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world," the handbook reads. "With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on Church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited."
Lethal weapons include a number of possible items including guns.
There have been several gun incidents on church property in recent years. In September, a 74-year-old man accidentally fired a gun in a meetinghouse in Provo, Utah. No one was hurt or injured. An audio recording later released by MormonLeaks featured an unidentified church leader trying to dissuade others who were present from posting anything on social media.
In August 2010, a man fatally shot a Mormon bishop at a chapel in Visalia, Calif., and then was later shot dead by police. Two years earlier, a man shot and killed his pregnant estranged wife in a church parking lot in Lehi, Utah.
In an emailed statement, Daniel Woodruff, a spokesman for the church, told NPR the change "took effect the first week of August and will be formally communicated to local Church leaders as new meetinghouse safety guidelines in the near future."
The notice was sent to local leaders in Texas, according to Woodruff, and anticipates an imminent state law that will permit the carrying of open and concealed weapons in places of worship unless a person is notified that it is prohibited.