SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News)- Authorities with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced major changes to the April 2020 General Conference Wednesday as COVID-19 spreads across the globe.
As a precaution, the public will not be admitted to the conference, but will instead be invited to attend virtually.
“We plan to conduct all five sessions of that conference at the Conference Center. General authorities, general officers and their spouses, musicians, choirs, technicians, and others will participate as assigned,” a letter from The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated.
The 2020 April General Conference will commemorate the bicentennial of the First Vision and what church members refer to as The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a letter, The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked that members to continue to prepare for the conference.
“As we do, we will be blessed to hear the word of the Lord and participate in a general conference experience that will remain not only memorable, but unforgettable.”
According to Church historian, Ron Fox, the April Conference was postponed to June due to the flu epidemic. The October 1957 Conference was canceled completely due to the Asian Flu epidemic.
Adjustments to Missionary Training
An additional letter issued by The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated that all missionaries scheduled to enter missionary training center in Provo, Utah and Preston, England will be trained remotely through video conference beginning March 16, 2020.
The letter stated, “Caring for the health and safety of our missionaries and those with whom they meet is vital to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have counseled with governmental, ecclesiastical and medical leaders worldwide on the spread of COVID-19. We have prayerfully considered this evolving circumstance and are taking additional steps at missionary training centers to protect missionaries and prevent the possible spread of the virus.”
Missionaries will receive information regarding the length of their training, schedules, and other important logistics closer to their starting date. Once missionaries finish their training online, missionaries will travel directly to their mission locations.
Adjustments regarding large gatherings
Also beginning March 16, 2020, large gatherings of Church members, such as stake and leadership conferences will be postponed in Asia, Asia North, Europe, Europe East, the United States and Canada Areas.
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in a letter that local leaders will receive direction on member attendance of weekly worship services, activities, and other meetings.
Following the announcements, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox released a statement:
“We appreciate the prudent steps taken by senior leadership of The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints to help mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus. The Utah COVID-19 Community Task Force encourages all organizations in the state of Utah to consider adapting their normal operations to help slow the spread of coronavirus in their spheres. These adaptations will vary greatly depending on the scale and scope of events and daily operations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made wise decisions that will help minimize exposure to the virus, while simultaneously allowing church members to participate in meetings that are important to their worship.”
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