ST. GEORGE — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday that it is closing its temples due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The First Presidency of the church, which constitutes the top leaders of the Utah-based faith, issued the following statement:
Dear brothers and sisters,
After careful and prayerful consideration, and with a desire to be responsible global citizens, we have decided to suspend all temple activity churchwide at the end of the day on March 25, 2020. This is a temporary adjustment, and we look forward to the day when the temples will reopen.
Please be assured of our sincere love and appreciation for your devotion and faith.
While the St. George Temple is already closed for a multiyear renovation and upgrade project, area Latter-day Saints had been able to visit LDS temples in Cedar City and Las Vegas.
Latter-day Saints consider temples to be the “house of the Lord,” and among the most sacred places on Earth. Temples differ from the meetinghouses or chapels where all are welcome to attend Sunday worship services. In the temple, according to the LDS church, “the teachings of Jesus Christ are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ceremonies that unite families for eternity.”
The temple closures follow adjustments the church has made in recent weeks as COVID-19 began to take hold across the globe. Other actions taken by the LDS church have included adjustments to its global missionary program, which has resulted in many missionaries either being reassigned or brought home.
Church leaders also suspended services at chapels worldwide and encouraged church members to engage in individual and family religious studies at home.
Changes to the LDS church’s semiannual general conference, set for early April, have also been made in response to COVID-19 and social distancing measures.
All LDS church historical sites, including the Brigham Young Winter Home in St. George, Jacob Hamblin Home in Santa Clara and Cove Fort in Millard County, have also been closed.
As of Thursday afternoon, Utah’s COVID-19 case count has reached over 400 with over 7,700 Utahns having been tested so far. The state also reported its first coronavirus-related death on Sunday.
According to the Associated Press, the man who died visited an LDS temple in Bountiful the week prior to his death.
The man who died was in his 60s and is believed to have been infected with the coronavirus while traveling, health officials said.
Generally speaking, people are considered to be at an elevated risk if they spent 10-minutes or more within six feet of a person who is symptomatic, Utah Health Department spokesman Tom Hudachko said.
For most people, coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
COVID-19 information resources
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
- Utah Department of Health
- Intermountain Healthcare
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