It’s been a big day of news out of Salt Lake City, with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announcing numerous adjustments to gatherings due to the now-official COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with barring the general public’s entry into the Conference Center in Salt Lake City for the upcoming April General Conference, the Church will also take drastic action to reduce the physical presence of missionaries in some of its Missionary Training Centers (MTCs).
In a letter signed by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Church announces that beginning March 16, all missionaries schedule to enter the MTCs in Provo, Utah or Preston, England will be trained remotely via video conference. Good thing the heavy players in the video conferencing space are now offering free software because of the surge in teleworking in recent weeks. The letter says nothing about missionaries currently in those MTCs, but we assume this means they stick out their time and simply won’t be physically replaced.
Of course, there are other MTCs in the world that have smaller cadres of missionaries, and there will be some changes for them, as well. (Curiously, the campuses in Brazil and Mexico, both of which have significant numbers of missionaries, are left off the list, but Latin America has also been comparatively quiet on the coronavirus front.) The primary change is that those MTCs will not receive new missionaries from regions where government officials are restricting activity. So let’s pretend for a moment that the Madrid, Spain MTC was still open. Italian missionaries were often called to Spain, but under this scenario, those missionaries would be forced to be trained over video conference instead of hopping a flight over to Madrid due to the government lockdown in their own country.
The Brethren stress that all missionaries will receive updates regarding the length of training, schedules, and other logistics to consider as the start date approaches. Presumably, this means missionaries will be set apart, as usual, but then just stay at home for their training. Have fun learning Bulgarian with Wild Kratts blasting in the background, Kaydyn!
Although there are many claiming the world is spiraling into unnecessary hysteria (visit your local Costco), the Church is erring on the side of caution and doing its utmost to care for its missionaries and ensure their health and safety.
Let’s just hope they don’t make the missionaries train in our meetinghouses, what with their excellent wifi. Regardless, now might be a good time to buy some Zoom stock.