When the First Presidency suspended church services until further notice, Latter-day Saints around the world were faced with an unanticipated situation. However, this is not the first time Church leaders have taken such measures.
Throughout history, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has cancelled meetings to protect members. The Church History Department blog recently highlighted stories from Church history that “offer examples of Latter-day Saints rising to the challenge in these moments of crisis and disruption.”
In light of recent global health concerns, these stories of members coping and worshiping despite disease or disaster might offer peace and comfort to all of us— during this time of COVID-19.
In 1918, the Spanish flu wreaked havoc on the world’s population. Over 20 million people died and 500 million were infected. In order to prevent further spread of the disease, Church services were cancelled from October to December of that year. The following April’s general conference was also postponed.
This pandemic also prompted the introduction of individual sacrament cups to prevent the spread of illness. Before the adoption of more sanitary personal cups, the sacrament had been served in a communal cup.
The Ebola outbreak of May 2014 disrupted worship for many members living in Sierra Leone and other west African countries. When the Sierra Leonean government declared a three-day national lockdown in September, many families struggled to find food.
However before the lockdown, Africa West Area leaders had organized shipments of food and supplies to be delivered to local members. Latter-day Saints received the supplies and distributed them to those in need before the lockdown began.
The Church History blog post concludes with this prompting and message of peace, “Let us reach out to others in love and look to the example of generations of Latter-day Saints who have faced similar challenges. . . As the Savior said, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.’”
Read more about these stories as well as other stories of how Latter-day Saints have persevered in uncertain times on the Church History Department's blog.