EP 467 – Empty Pews

Photo: Historic LDS Architecture
Coronavirus brings nearly all Church activity to a halt. How was your first Sunday conducting church at home? What does the future hold?
Photo: Historic LDS Architecture

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]oronavirus or the sickness caused by it, COVID-19, has officially enveloped our society, leading to drastic restrictions across everyday life, including church activity. The Church has been proactive in erring on the side of caution, resulting in a cavalcade of new practices, closures, and other measures. Jared Gillins is here, and this week is pretty much all coronavirus and the Latter-day Saint Response.

First off, if you want to bookmark a useful page, the Church produces a single portal listing all relevant articles pertaining to coronavirus restrictions and actions, along with the dates the material was last updates. Worth keeping around.

It is important that we take coronavirus seriously. Seriously! Jana Riess, no stranger to fusillades from our end, rightly calls out Latter-day Saints for inaction during this crisis. It is about all of us at this point.

Likewise, By Common Consent ran a terrific piece challenging us not to be selfish as we protect ourselves, but to think of others and to think collectively.

So here we are. All Church activity has effectively come to a screeching halt. It started a few weeks ago, as missionary activity scaled back and temples closed in Asia. Then the shoes came a-droppin’.

First, the inevitable announcement that General Conference would still take place, but that the Conference Center and other facilities would be closed to the public. What will Conference be like with speakers speaking to an empty room and choirs’ singing into the empty expanse?

Of course, it gave us this great bit of the internet:

Then we learned that missionary training centers (MTC) would largely go virtual. That is, MTCs in Provo and England would stop taking in new missionaries, requiring them instead to be trained online from home. Other MTCs around the world will restrict who can arrive based on country of origin.

Eventually, the closures hit the Church Education System, with BYU canceling commencement and the Women’s Conference. The Church also moved to close more temples at this time.

Finally, the big one. On Thursday evening, the First Presidency announced an end to all meetings and activities, encouraging bishops and stake presidents to work together to outline protocols for administering the sacrament while ward members were encouraged to use their skills learned from a year of Come, Follow Me to hold church at home with their families.

So how was your first week of home church? We’d love to hear of your experience in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or you can shoot us an email.

Deseret News profiled how families around the world worshiped, and perhaps unsurprisingly, seemed to go out of its way to show pictures of men only in white shirts and ties. Are you dressing up? Dress down?

This hasn’t been the end of defensive maneuvers, however. More temples closed globally, but not all. Those that remain open have restricted work to living ordinances only, and if you manage to still squeeze in your wedding, only eight people may attend. But there’s some happy temple news! The groundbreaking for the Auckland New Zealand Temple has been announced and remains scheduled.

The Tabernacle Choir is also halting live production of “Music and the Spoken Word,” opting to air previous broadcasts for the foreseeable future.

Missionaries may also be sent home early. Those that are scheduled to complete their missions by Sept. 1 will be released after 21 months instead of the usual 24. Missionaries around the world report being effectively quarantined and restricted to holding lessons virtually.

But all is not lost! President Nelson shared a message of hope over the weekend that has resonated so profoundly, it was the top trending video on YouTube for a bit. We can all band together during this difficult time.

Normally we ask you to support us on Patreon by donating $5 a month to help us pay our fees. If you still want to do that, we greatly appreciate it. However, we’d be even happier if you use your spare cash to help the needy and support your fellow man. Look after those to whom you minister. Don’t hoard unnecessary items. Impart of your goods. Read Jacob 2. Love others. Bring out the best in each other.

We’ll still be here every week. Keep strong and do good!

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