In a letter issued today titled, “Safely Returning to Church Meetings and Activities,” the First Presidency announced,
“With this letter, we now authorize some meetings and activities to be resumed on a limited basis using a careful, phased approach.”
The letter was accompanied by a few pages of guidelines and instructions about how the return to Sunday meetings will happen. Of particular interest may be the following table that outlines how leaders should move forward using that “careful, phased approach.”
What about YOU in your area?
According to the additional information given after the First Presidency Letter,
Area Presidencies, with approval of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the
Presidency of the Seventy who supervise them, will inform stake and ward leaders when
to function using phase 1 or phase 2 and when to return to standard practices.
Additional guidelines and suggestions
Leaders are also equipped with several suggestions they may choose to implement, based on local needs and circumstances:
Social distancing. Consider ways to maintain appropriate distance during meetings and classes and when entering and exiting the chapel and classrooms. Individuals from the same household may sit together, but others should sit with appropriate distance. It is recommended that choirs be temporarily suspended.
When more members desire to attend. When more members desire to attend than the above guidelines allow, leaders may hold multiple meetings during the day or invite members to attend on alternate weeks.
Multiple wards or branches in a meetinghouse. When more than one ward or branch attends in one meetinghouse, stake presidents should temporarily adjust meeting times to avoid overlapping schedules.
Areas with large wards. Wards with large attendance at meetings may need to wait to begin holding meetings at the phase-2 level. These wards may also need to alternate weeks of attendance to accommodate all members. On Sundays when members are not participating at the meetinghouse, they can hold home worship services and, when authorized by the bishop, have the sacrament administered at home by a worthy priesthood holder.
Bishops may consider adjustments in passing the sacrament. For example, they might ask members to sit in every other bench or have chairs spaced so that priesthood holders can offer the trays to all members, rather than having individuals pass trays down the row.
Some members may not be able to gather for a time and should be ministered to individually. Where needed, bishops may continue to authorize worthy priesthood holders to prepare and administer the sacrament at home. If there are no worthy priesthood holders in the home, the bishop may authorize other worthy priesthood holders in the ward to prepare and administer the sacrament in the homes of members who request it.
Where available, priesthood holders may wear face masks while preparing, blessing,and passing the sacrament.
Before preparing, blessing, or passing the sacrament, priesthood holders should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If hand washing is not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. They should then avoid shaking hands or touching their eyes, nose, or mouth before preparing, blessing, or passing the sacrament.