LDS church announces plans to return to weekly worship services

A Latter-day Saint bishop addresses a congregation. The church attendees are practicing appropriate social distancing during a Sunday worship service. A bishop is a lay leader of a congregation who oversees the well-being of the congregation, location and date unspecified. | Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a phased return to weekly worship meetings Tuesday.

A Latter-day Saint bishop addresses a congregation. The church attendees are practicing appropriate social distancing during a Sunday worship service, date and location and unspecified. | Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George News

The LDS church’s First Presidency sent a letter to general and local church leaders worldwide detailing a two-phased pan that “can be done only when local government regulations allow and after the faith’s Area Presidencies provide additional guidance to local church leaders.”

Latter-day Saint churches could begin to reopen for in-person services and other activities starting this weekend provided local health regulations are met and area church leaders deem it appropriate.

During the first phase of a plan, shortened meetings with up to 99 people can be held in churches. Other meetings and activities, such as weddings and funerals, can also be held following local government regulations. These meetings may also be held remotely through the use of technology.

Wards (congregations) with over 100 members may hold multiple meetings or have some members attend alternate weeks. They may also wait until the second phase of the plan when meetings of 100 and more are viable.

An organist follows COVID-19 public health guidelines by playing the organ with a face mask during a Latter-day Saint Sunday worship service, location and date unspecified. | Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George News

Where considered allowable by area church leaders and health regulations, Sunday worship services of 100 people or more will happen in the second phase of the church’s plan.

Other meetings and activities may also take place at church meetinghouses as long as they also follow local government regulations.

Area Latter-day Saint leaders will be able to adapt the plan to meet local circumstances.

“We are grateful for the faith of our members as they have worshiped at home and are grateful for the blessings that will come as we gather for worship and activities,” the church’s First Presidency said in Tuesday’s press release.

The church suspended worship services and other meetings and activities at its meetinghouses worldwide March 12. Temple services were also suspended soon after, though a limited number of temples have since been reopened to partial use in Utah, Idaho and parts of Europe.

Other general guidelines are as followings:

  • Use an abundance of caution in protecting the health and safety of members. Pay particular attention to members whose health or age puts them at high risk.
  • Advise individuals who do not feel well, who have been asked to self-quarantine or who exhibit any of the following symptoms that they should not attend meetings: fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, runny nose or sore throat.
  • Follow social distancing, handwashing and other practices described in “Preventative Measures for Members” found on the church’s website.
  • Follow government regulations in each location regarding public gatherings, including meeting size, frequency and duration. Please apply government regulations.
  • Please return to regular practices slowly, continuing to function remotely using technology while beginning in-person meetings in a phased approach, as described above, priority for in-person gatherings should be given to meetings during which ordinances are performed, such as baptisms and sacrament meetings.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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