[Corona Guidance editor’s note: This document was originally published on April 16, 2020, then updated on June 11 to include the technology section.]
In exceptional times, ordinances can usually be accomplished while exercising necessary precautions. For example, when communicable disease is a concern, those who perform ordinances should thoroughly wash their hands and may also use gloves and face masks.
Baptisms and Confirmations
Baptisms and confirmations require the approval of a priesthood leader with the appropriate keys. When needed, baptismal services may proceed with as few as four people: the baptismal candidate, the priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder performing the baptism, and two witnesses. A baptism is performed under the authorization of a bishop or mission president who holds the necessary priesthood keys. The bishop or mission president or someone they designate (who could be one of the witnesses) must observe and document the baptism and confirmation. If necessary, the person granting the authorization may do so remotely using technology. Leaders, family, and friends may observe remotely using technology but should not make a video or audio recording. When sacrament meetings are temporarily suspended, converts may be confirmed immediately after the baptism.
Priesthood Ordinations and Settings Apart
Priesthood ordinations and settings apart require the advance approval of the person holding the appropriate priesthood keys. They also require the physical laying on of hands by an authorized priesthood holder. The ordinance must be observed and documented by the individual holding the priesthood keys or someone he designates. If necessary, this individual may observe the ordinance remotely using technology. Leaders, family, and friends may observe remotely using technology but should not make a video or audio recording.
Ordinations, callings, and settings apart may be performed without a prior sustaining in ward and stake settings if approved in advance by the person holding the appropriate priesthood keys. This allows the work of the Lord to move forward, and the action is later ratified when meetings are resumed.
Administering to the Sick
A priesthood blessing requires the physical laying on of hands. Normally, two or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders administer, but one may do it alone. After taking every necessary precaution, when conditions prohibit placing hands on a person’s head, a prayer can be offered, including using technology. This is a prayer of faith and not a priesthood blessing. Anyone at any time may pray, fast or otherwise minister to others.
Administering the Sacrament
Members should take advantage of the blessings of attending sacrament meeting and partaking of the sacrament weekly when possible. In exceptional circumstances, when ward sacrament meetings are not held for an extended time, a bishop may authorize worthy priesthood holders in his ward to prepare and administer the sacrament in their own homes or in the homes of other ward members who request it and who do not have a worthy priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder in the home. (See General Handbook, 18.9.1.) When needed, the sacrament may be administered by a single priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder.
Members may provide their own bread and water. However, preparing the sacrament, including breaking the bread, should be done by the authorized priesthood holder(s). The priesthood holder(s) administering the sacrament must be in the same location as those who receive it when they break the bread, say the prayers, and pass the emblems. In unusual circumstances when the sacrament is not available, members can be comforted by studying the sacrament prayers and recommitting to live the covenants members have made and praying for the day they will receive it in person, properly administered by a priesthood bearer.
Individuals and families are blessed when they can hold a private, home-centered Sabbath worship service, in person or remotely. Such worship can include prayers, hymns, and gospel study. When authorized and when priesthood holder(s) are present, the sacrament may be blessed and passed.
Other Church Functions
Meetings. In extreme circumstances, leaders may temporarily suspend meetings and activities. When conditions require, bishopric meetings, interviews, and ward council meetings may take place remotely using technology, such as phone calls or video calls. Bishops and ward leaders may use technology for messages to supplement a member’s home centered worship.
Those holding priesthood keys direct sacrament meetings and stake conferences, quorum and organization meetings, formal gospel instruction, administrative meetings, interviews, and most priesthood ordinances. When conditions require, technology may be used to transmit stake conferences when authorized by the presiding authority. Sacrament meetings may also be transmitted to ward members wherever located when authorized by the bishop, but the transmission should not include the ordinance of the sacrament and the transmission should not be recorded.
Ministering. Ministering brothers and sisters will discover that there are varied ways to provide needed support to their assigned individuals and families. Whether ministering is done in person or remotely using technology depends on local circumstances and the needs, desires, and health of those involved. Ministering interviews may be done remotely using technology when needed. In extreme cases, in-person ministering may be limited to addressing a serious and urgent physical, mental, or emotional need. Ministering brothers and sisters should demonstrate their love and support in appropriate ways.
Supplementing Members’ Home-Centered Worship. When restrictions on public gatherings exist and where local needs exist, bishops and ward leaders may provide some content via technology to supplement members’ home-centered worship. Ward leaders may offer devotionals, worship services, and Sunday classes to ward members and those residing within ward boundaries on an opt-in basis. Ward leaders ensure that content shared via technology is in harmony with Church doctrine.
Bishops and ward councils seek to support individuals and families without interfering in home-centered gospel living. Member needs and preferences are a paramount consideration. Wise judgment can help provide what members most need as opposed to all that technology may make possible to provide. Leaders should take great care not to overload members with meetings, events, and information.
Stake leaders should hold meetings or devotionals only as outlined in the General Handbook or as directed by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Technology. A blessing of physical mortality is the opportunity to experience the richness of person-to-person communication. In addition, technology can enhance communication by (1) bringing together individuals separated by distance or other physical circumstances and (2) increasing access to meetings, events, and information important to the work of the Lord.
The appropriate use of technology should respect principles of priesthood keys, covenants and ordinances, local member needs, defined unit boundaries, and reasonable requests on the time of leaders and members.
When presiding officers authorize the use of technology, they should ensure its operation does not interfere with the reverence of sacred occasions nor distract from the workings of the Spirit. They should share content via technology only with their members and others who reside within their assigned geographic boundaries.