Several years ago while serving in the Africa Southeast Area, Elder Dale G. Renlund and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund, learned the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ registration with the country of Rwanda was invalid.
As a result, the Church made the “agonizing decision” to close the branch in Rwanda. “This meant that these faithful Saints were unable to partake of the sacrament as a branch for a long time,” the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote in an article posted on ChurchofJesusChrist.org on Monday, Aug. 3.
“When they finally came together after that time had passed, there was a spirit that washed over that congregation and over me,” he continued. “It was one of the most intensely powerful experiences in a sacrament meeting in my life. I realized that feeling came from the Rwandan Latter-day Saints who came hungering and thirsting for the sacrament.”
Like the Saints in Rwanda, “our hunger will bring out an intense feeling as we experience being in a dedicated house of God again.”
In the article and accompanying video, Elder Renlund discussed how Latter-day Saints can access the power of the temple during COVID-19. Limited access to the temple “doesn’t change the impact that the temple can have on us in our lives,” he said.
With the desire to be good global citizens and be part of the solution to the pandemic, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles suspended Church gatherings worldwide on March 12 and closed all temples on March 25. Church leaders announced a phased reopening of temples on May 7 and a phased approach for resuming meetings and activities on May 19.
As of Aug. 3, 127 of the Church’s 168 temples worldwide will be open or scheduled to be open in limited operations, in either Phase 1 or Phase 2.
“When we go to the temple, we don’t renew our covenants as we do proxy temple work,” Elder Renlund wrote. “Rather, we are reminded of the covenants that we once made. It’s by keeping those covenants that we access the power of godliness in our lives — whether we’re able to physically go to the temple or not.
“We should not limit the ability of God to invoke the power of godliness in our lives. Our ability to access the power of godliness depends on us keeping the covenants we’ve made with Him.”
As he has worked with other Church leaders on how and when temples can reopen, Elder Renlund has felt an “outpouring” of the Savior’s love and influence. “He is in charge. He is guiding us to know how our temples can reopen as safe places of worship. I continue to be in awe of all that He is guiding us to do.”
Elder Renlund concluded his article by encouraging Latter-day Saints to keep their covenants and access the power of godliness in their everyday lives. “When the day comes for us to attend the temple again, our hearts and our spirits will be hungry for the experiences of the temple,” he wrote. “And it’s that desire, that hunger, that will result in a powerful temple experience.”