SALT LAKE CITY — Latter-day Saints in Utah can now return to church each Sunday — and they can watch it from home, too.
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave the green light to resume weekly worship services and stake conferences, as local circumstances allow, in a letter released Friday.
The Utah Area Presidency followed up that letter by approving weekly meetings throughout the state beginning Sunday. Many wards in Utah had already resumed in-person sacrament meetings but most Latter-day Saints haven’t been able to go each week due to restriction made to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Church services will also be broadcast, allowing ward members to watch from home, the area leaders announced.
Here’s how Sundays will look going forward:
Wards and branches should hold one sacrament meeting each week at their regular meeting time (times can be adjusted to make time for clearing the chapel if multiple wards use the building), the Utah Area guidelines say. Attendance should not exceed 150 people and services should be under an hour to help follow coronavirus guidelines. For those wards that have more than 150 members who wish to attend the Sunday service in-person, a rotating schedule can be used. The services will be broadcast to allow members to remain home if needed.
Wards should livestream a broadcast of the weekly sacrament meeting to ward members. The broadcast, though, will not be recorded or posted on the internet for future viewing. The administration of the sacrament will also not be included in the broadcast. The Utah Area Presidency is leaving it up to ward and stake leaders to determine the platform that will be used to broadcast the meeting.
Administration of the sacrament
Since the administration of the sacrament won’t be shown on broadcasts, that portion of the service will be done following the closing prayer. An opening or closing prayer will not be needed, but a sacrament hymn may be sung, the area guidelines state.
Sunday school is moving online. Weekly second-hour meetings, including Sunday School (first and third Sundays) and Relief Society, priesthood quorums and Young Women meetings (second and fourth Sundays), will be done virtually each Sunday afternoon.
The Utah Area Presidency did give young single adult stakes an exception to holding virtual classes, stating wards within those stakes can choose to meet in person for second-hour meetings, if desired.
“YSA stake presidents should give careful attention to and follow principles and guidelines for safe interaction at church meetings and avoid excessive social mingling in hallways between meetings,” the guidelines read.
In their letter, the First Presidency — which consists of church President Russell M. Nelson and his two counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring — outlined four key principles for local leaders to administer the church during the COVID-19 pandemic. They include:
- Remember members by name and nourish them spiritually
- Strengthen members and help them bear their burdens
- Uplift one another and create unity through activities
- Gather members often to fast, pray and speak concerning the welfare of their souls.
The letter also said that stake conferences can resume in November "when assigned by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and as circumstances and technology allow."
"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 in its letter.
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