Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are getting closer to returning to normal church meetings and activities.
On Friday, The First Presidency, consisting of President Russell M. Nelson and his two counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, provided updated guidelines to help church leaders and members safely increase engagement in worship and other activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the church have been meeting since March in their homes using church-provided tools for lessons and activities. In some cases, LDS congregations have met in person but socially distanced with face masks. Stake conferences and other church meetings and activities have been canceled.
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.
“In challenging times,” the enclosure says, “disciples of Jesus Christ continue to follow him by participating in his work of salvation and exaltation.”
According to church information, 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.
The four prinicples include:
- Remember members by name and nourish them spiritually. 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. 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. 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. 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 also are to support Latter-day Saints who need to continue worshiping 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,” the instructions said.
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, according to the church statement.
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 at http://churchofjesuschrist.org.