The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided updated guidelines to help Church leaders and members safely increase engagement in worship and other activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Area Presidencies, under the guidance of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are tasked with approving meetings and activities in their areas. The First Presidency letter notes that, beginning in November 2020, stake conferences may be held virtually or with careful social distancing. An enclosure to the letter says weekly worship can resume immediately, depending on local conditions.
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“In challenging times,” the enclosure says, “disciples of Jesus Christ continue to follow Him by participating in His work of salvation and exaltation.” This work goes forward in every circumstance. Because local conditions vary, the enclosure includes four key principles to help local leaders and members best administer the Church. These principles, as well as their application, are provided below.
“We are grateful for inspired patterns of ministering and home-centered, Church-supported efforts that allow the Lord’s work to move forward in current conditions,” the First Presidency said.
Remember members by name and nourish them spiritually (see Moroni 6:4–5)
Both adult and youth presidency and council meetings can occur virtually or safely in person, as local conditions allow.
Strengthen members and help bear their burdens (see Mosiah 18:1–11; Doctrine and Covenants 20:47, 59)
Leaders can continue to both minister to, and conduct ministering interviews with, fellow congregants. Also, using safe practices and under the guidance of their bishop, they can regularly administer the sacrament in the homes of those who wish to receive it.
Uplift one another and create unity through activities (see Mosiah 18:21; Doctrine and Covenants 121:9)
Youth meetings, activities, and service projects can be held virtually or safely in person, as local circumstances allow. These can take place on Sundays or on other days. Leaders are encouraged to help youth connect and grow through the Church’s new Children and Youth Program. Those with younger children can continue to use the Church’s resources for Primary-age children.
Gather members often to fast, pray and speak concerning the welfare of their souls (see Alma 6:6; Moroni 6:6)
Depending on local conditions, and with the oversight of the bishop, weekly sacrament meetings can be held virtually, safely in person or by hybrid in-person and virtual broadcasts. Broadcasts should not be recorded. Leaders are also to support Latter-day Saints who need to continue worshipping at home.
Because a broadcast does not allow those watching to partake of the sacrament, leaders are encouraged to plan for an uninterrupted broadcast. This can be done by beginning the broadcast either before or after the administration of the sacrament.
Church leaders want as many Latter-day Saints as possible to have the opportunity to receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper—in person and from authorized holders of the priesthood.
In addition to following these four principles, Latter-day Saints around the world can continue to consult two documents first published in April 2020 and updated in June:
Administrative Principles in Challenging Times
Directions for Essential Ordinances, Blessings and Other Church Functions
First Presidency Letter: Safely Engaging in Church Meetings and Activities