Churches cancel weekly worship services, temples are restricted
By Lloyd Call
Churches have been affected by the new coronavirus health crisis. The largest church in Sanpete County, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made the following temporary changes to help stop the world-wide spread of the COVID-19.
As previously reported, general conference on April 5 will be held with no audience in attendance, and may be viewed on the internet or electronic media only.
Stake and other church meetings
Area and stake meetings are all postponed. Regular Sunday meetings in wards and branches are suspended, including youth group activities.
Bishoprics will continue to interview members and issue temple recommends. Ministering sisters and brothers should contact all members at least every other week to meet any needs, and report back to the bishop. Social distancing should be observed, meaning no hand shaking, and other health safety guidelines should be followed. Because patriarchs are typically of advanced age, patriarchal blessings will be suspended.
Administering of the sacrament, previously reserved for weekly sacrament meetings may be administered every two weeks by worthy priesthood holders in individual homes with the bishop’s permission, or ministering elders may assist, as requested by individual families. Families are urged to remember the sacrament ordinance is sacred, and avoid it becoming casual.
Church leadership is requesting all members have an attitude of faith, not fear, and pray for the Lord’s blessings on ourselves and our communities, and to avoid anything that would contribute to panic.
Church members perform saving ordinances in the church’s temples both for themselves and by proxy for those who have died. Proxy ordinances are now suspended. Live ordinances may be performed with a limited number of temple workers and participants, by appointment. Housing for temple volunteers will also close. The church has also temporarily closed 13 temples at present.
Missionaries will continue to be called to serve and assigned to labor in missions worldwide. Missionary recommendations will continue to be received, and missionary assignments for worldwide service will continue to be made.
The church will stop sending new missionaries to two of its 11 missionary training centers, in Provo, which has 1,000 missionaries, and England, which has about 60 missionaries. Missionaries will be converted to virtual missionary training.
On a temporary basis, young missionaries with health issues and senior missionaries may be released from service.
Missionaries who begin their service and are unable to travel to their assigned mission may be temporarily reassigned to another mission.
To adjust for rapidly changing conditions, young missionary elders currently serving in missions within the United States and Canada who would complete their mission on or before Sept. 1, 2020, may be released after they have served for 21 months.
Some missionaries may be temporarily reassigned.
Other churches have also make adjustments in their church services, including the Ephraim Church of the Bible, which is going to stream their services to members.
Pastor Mike Bardon of the Manti Baptist Church says, “We can’t meet in the city building, so we are just going to email, phone and contact church members, and urge them to worship the best they can.”
The First Southern Baptist Church of Mt. Pleasant is continuing to hold services, because their numbers are below the threshold number of participants.
As of press-time, there is not yet a comment from Mountain Valley Community Church in Mt. Pleasant, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Ephraim and San Juan Diego Mission in Gunnison.