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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: First Presidency Tweaks Guidelines for the April 2020 General Conference, Missionary Training, and Other Larger Gatherings

Hello again, everyone! Around half an hour ago, I received a breaking news alert on my phone from the Church News, wherein a new article indicated that 3 changes are being implemented effective immediately by the First Presidency in the wake of the ongoing worldwide spread of COVID-19. Those changes were further detailed in 3 official news releases published on the Newsroom website at around the same time. Let's look at those one-by-one. The first change will impact the April 2020 General Conference. With all five sessions thereof originating from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City (which should put rumors to rest about the conference being held in other locations), attendance at the Conference Center will be limited to participants only, including General Authorities and General Officers of the Church, the choirs that will be performing thereat, and the technicians and specialists required to help trasmit and translate the conference. The second announcement relates to missionary work. In order to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, all missionaries who would otherwise have been trained in the MTCs in Provo Utah and Preston England will instead be trained remotely before flying out from their nations of residence to their fields of labor. This change also applies to missionaries from areas where there are a high number of cases of COVID-19. And the final adjustment will pertain to large gatherings of Church members in the following specific areas of the Church: Asia, Asia North, Europe, Europe East, and the 6 areas in the United States and Canada. In those areas of the Church all stake or large leadership gatherings  that would otherwise have been held are postponed out of an abundance of caution regarding the potential spread of COVID-19. For each of the other  11 (soon to be 12) areas of the Church, members and leaders are being counseled to follow directions received from the area presidencies.  In the meantime, for weekly worship servicesand and other meetings or activities that would have been held, local leaders will be tasked with making decisions on that on a case-by-case basis, as a result of what is determined through the lines of authority. The interesting thing that struck me about all of these announcements (aside from the fact that these three major developments were reported simultaneously) is that each of the letters outlining these changes were published in full via the official Newsroom of the Church. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that 3 letters have been simultaneously sent out and reported via the Newsroom website, rather than merely showing up in members' e-mail inboxes or on the Church's repository website for official communications. Aside from that analysis of these developments, I want to acknwoledge that it is wonderful to see Church leaders making these adjustments due to the changing asse\ssments and recommendations about COVID-19 from health and government officials.

These official announcements also all serve as corrections and clarifications to anything I have previously shared on this subject, since the determinations of the leading quorums of the Church as inspired by the Lord trump my own wisdom and analysis at any time.t These appear to be very common-sense adjustments allowing the utilization of technology to a greater degree to further the work of the Lord in the midst of the ongoing global scope and increasing threat posed by COVID-19.  That said, it is also important to note that, according to recommendations made by several doctors familiar with infectious diseases, there is no call at this time for widespread panic or mass hysteria in response to the virus. As long as proper precautions are being taken on all of the right fronts, and as long as Church members are prepared for how COVID-19 might impact individuals, families, and congregations, and as long as health officials indicate this is the case, there is no need at this time to be unduly concerned or troubled. Any further adjustments will be made based on recommednations from health officials and political and religious leaders at various levels. To quote the immortal words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, the enterally optimistic prophet, "Everything will work out." And above all else, the Lord is mindful of His people all over the world, and knows how best to assist all of us in preparing for and responding to the virus in all such cases.

That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.