SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Salt Lake City-based Mormon church will be changing the way it holds future general conferences.

The changes announced Friday by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call for holding the general priesthood and the general women's sessions only once a year, with the all-male priesthood session being in April and the women's session being in October.

The changes will take effect in April 2018.

The church says in a letter to local church leaders that shortening the general conference sessions will help simplify work of the church and reduce demands made upon its leaders and members.

"We are confident this change will be a blessing in the lives of members throughout the church," the First Presidency said in the letter to be read Sunday in the worship services of the faith's 30,000 congregations.

Kathryn Skaggs, founder of the Mormon Women Stand, a Facebook group with 52,000 members, said she expects the change "will elevate the women's session in the minds of everyone in the church. "

Some Mormon are questioning whether the change will have any effect on the number of women who speak during the conference sessions.

Salt Lake City's Naomi Watkins, co-founder of Aspiring Mormon Women, a Facebook discussion forum, said she's a fan of fewer meetings and thinks the change will make the women's session more equivalent to the priesthood session.

"But given there have been only one to two female speakers in the general sessions in the recent past," Watkins said, "I hope that this change means more women will be speaking at these general sessions, too, and that this change doesn't result in fewer female speakers overall."