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Latter-day Saint leaders adjust some missionary service in light of COVID-19

By Josh Furlong, KSL.com | Updated - Mar. 16, 2020 at 10:12 a.m. | Posted - Mar. 16, 2020 at 9:11 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Latter-day Saint leaders announced Monday some temporary changes to missionary service in relation to the spread of COVID-19.

“We continue to monitor the spread of this condition and its impact on missionaries worldwide,” the church said in a statement. “We take very seriously the health and safety of our missionaries and of those they teach.”

As a result, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said out of “an abundance of caution” any missionary with a release date of Sept. 1 or earlier in the United States and Canada may be released once they reach 21 months of service.

Additionally, missionaries worldwide who begin serving and are not able to get to their missions may be temporarily reassigned to another mission; some other missionaries may also be temporarily reassigned. Young missionaries with health issues and senior missionaries may be released from service; however, young and senior missionaries with serious medical conditions in Europe have already been released and sent home.

The church is encouraging all missionaries to stay in frequent contact with their families and to leave their apartments periodically to get fresh air and exercise while “observing wise guidelines for personal contact.”

Prospective missionaries will still be called and assigned to serve in missions around the world, though the church said it is “adapting to constantly changing conditions.”

The church said it will continue to monitor conditions throughout the world and make adjustments, if needed.

“As a Church, we express our love and appreciation for all missionaries as they strive to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and share His love wherever they serve,” the church's statement said.

On Sunday, President Russell M. Nelson, the church’s president, released a video with a message of hope and optimism to members of the faith in light of the spread of COVID-19, saying “these unique challenges will pass in due time. I remain optimistic for the future.

"Our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, know us, love us, and are watching over us," he said. "Of that, we can be certain."

Last week, the church made several temporary changes in response to the global pandemic, including a suspension of church service worldwide and adjustments to temple service.

The church also announced last week that its annual general conference that is held in April will be "via technology only." Leaders, speakers and others assigned to assist with general conference will participate in all five sessions at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City without the public in attendance.

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