The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints focuses on divinely appointed responsibilities to assist members as they progress on the covenant path toward eternal life. To help accomplish this divine purpose, the Church and its leaders provide priesthood authority and keys, covenants and ordinances, and prophetic direction. The Church invites all people to come unto Jesus Christ and faithfully obey His commandments.
The scriptures are clear that in this dispensation we will experience challenging times. Amid difficult circumstances, the Church will proclaim fundamental principles and administer needed ordinances to bless Heavenly Father’s children. Whatever the time or circumstances, certain things are essential in the Lord’s Church. These include sacred doctrine and ordinances.
Global Citizen Responsibility
Members of the Church are grateful for the laws of many nations around the world that protect religious freedom and respect the sacred freedom of conscience.
The Church teaches that its members should sustain and uphold the laws where they reside. These governments enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest. We acknowledge that in exceptional circumstances all individual rights may be reasonably restricted, for a time to protect the safety of the general public.
In times of pandemic or natural disaster, the Church will respond to official orders to take needed actions such as canceling or postponing meetings or other gatherings. The Church and its members are committed to being good citizens and good neighbors. The Church has a long history of reaching out and providing assistance to those in need.
Along with our commitment to be good global citizens, we respectfully assert that reasonable accommodations be extended to all people of faith as they strive to participate in rites that are foundational to their faith.
The Lord Has Prepared His Church
Inspired direction over many years has prepared the Lord’s Church and its members, both temporally and spiritually, for changing and challenging times.
In addition to the long-time counsel for members to have food storage in their homes, Church members are focused on observing the Sabbath day, ministering to others, and strengthening Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and Relief Societies. Through His prophets, the Lord has increased focus on home-centered, Church-supported gospel learning and living. Members have been encouraged to make their homes true sanctuaries of faith where children and youth are taught the gospel. The Come, Follow Me curriculum provides a model where members everywhere learn the gospel in their homes and at Church. The Children and Youth program is also home centered, allowing parents to nurture their children spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially.
Members have been encouraged to use technology to share gospel messages in normal and natural ways. Missionaries have been provided devices that permit them to find and teach even when in-person contact is not possible. Members can engage in family history work from their homes.
When we look at the interlocking patterns of these efforts and many others, we can see how the Lord has carefully orchestrated and sequenced us to prepare for challenging times.
Foundational Principles and Ordinances
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church of order. Ordinances and blessings are sacred acts provided by the authority of the priesthood. While some procedures may change depending on circumstances, fundamental doctrine, principles, and ordinances must be protected.
Many ordinances require the laying on of hands, such as confirmations, ordinations, blessings, settings apart, and conferring of priesthood keys. Such ordinances require that the priesthood holder who performs the ordinance must be in the same location as the recipient. Priesthood ordinances cannot be performed remotely using technology. When circumstances require, others may observe the ordinance remotely using technology if authorized by the presiding authority.
In these challenging times, presiding authorities must exercise wisdom as to which ordinances should be temporarily deferred. When communicable disease is a concern, those who perform ordinances should take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others.
Attached hereto are directions for essential ordinances, blessings, and other Church functions.
These documents are issued in response to the disruptions in Church procedures and member activities caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. They should be used as guidance for so long as this pandemic and its associated official limitations on Church meetings and public exposures exist in a particular country or geographic portion of a country. Other directions may be issued later.
As the prophet Nephi said, “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). The Lord will help us. The power of the priesthood and the righteousness of members will help us go forward in days that are ahead.
[April 16, 2020]