Coronavirus Causes Suspension of Church Meetings in Asia, Closures of Facilities

NBC News
Geoff Openshaw

Geoff Openshaw

Two countries are confirmed to be closing Church doors for the time being, with others likely to follow.
NBC News

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s the coronavirus continues its relentless across Asia, regional and local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taking action to secure members against potential contraction of the disease associated with the virus.

We don’t know the situation in every country, but we know that Singapore and South Korea are effectively shut down in terms of face-to-face Church meetings and activities for the foreseeable future.

Jean-Luc Butelm, president of the Singapore Stake, issued the following letter:

Dear Members of The Singapore Stake.

Upon the Area Presidency’s recommendation, the decision has been taken to temporarily cancel all Church face-to-face meetings effective immediately. This includes all Sunday meetings, institutes, face-to-face seminary classes (Skype and online classes can continue), weekly organizations activities, etc. Virtual meetings, where they make sense (i.e.: bishopric meetings, presidencies meetings), are certainly acceptable.

This temporary cancellation of our Church meetings is in effect until further notice. We will keep you informed in a timely manner should anything change. Furthermore we would like to share with you part of a message from the Area Presidency:

“…out of an abundance of caution, church buildings in your area have been closed until further notice. In addition, please be advised that stake and district conferences scheduled for the months of February, March and April of this year have been cancelled.

During this period of restricted activity, we encourage members to minister to those in need, conduct church business by way of technology and make their homes sanctuaries of faith by way of home-centered gospel learning.”

Given its proximity to China, South Korea has been hit harder by the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s formally known.

A note in a Facebook group from local leadership noted that there’s been a spike in COVID-19 cases, with the total number infected in the country reaching 204. Leaders “expect this number to grow in the coming days,” and while they acknowledge that the risk of infection is low, it is important to be proactive and “take prudent measures to keep ourselves and others safe.”

Therefore, the Area Presidency has canceled all meetings in Korea “until further notice,” including seminary and institute classes. The Seoul South Korea Temple is also closed, and missionaries in the country have been instructed to stay in their homes and cease regular activities.

Leadership notes that members may, of course, still worship and learn together virtually, and that this is also a great time to embrace the “Come, Follow Me” format. “Home-Centered, Church-Supported” can take on a new meeting for the time being.

Given that these notices came from the Area Presidency, we’ll assume nearby nations are facing similar restrictions, but it’s unclear if there’s a cutoff point. (Like, can the saints in Papua New Guinea carry on as usual?)

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