‘The work continues,’ says President Ballard, other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles amid COVID-19

Under the unique and difficult circumstances brought on by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “are carrying on,” said President M. Russell Ballard.

“The work continues,” said the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “The Lord has provided us with the technology for this time.”

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — under the direction of the First Presidency — are adapting to current challenges. They continue to hold missionary, youth and member meetings, all via technology. They remain in daily contact with area leadership to oversee the work of the Church across the globe, even reorganizing stakes remotely when necessary. They all participated in a virtual mission leadership seminar in late June. And they have continued to meet together — and with the First Presidency — using videoconferencing and social distancing.

“We don’t wring our hands,” he said in a recent Church News interview. “We figure out how to find a new way.”

During this complex and challenging time “the reality is simple,” said President Ballard, who has served as a General Authority for 44 years. “The Church has to keep moving.”

The world will win the war on COVID-19, President Ballard says

Above all, said President Ballard, “we have to keep in touch with the Lord, wherever our challenges are in the world. And we don’t need technology to do it.

“Everyone can pray and seek guidance and direction,” he said.

President Ballard said he misses in-person meetings with the Brethren. “There is nothing quite like interacting face to face, spirit to spirit, heart to heart,” he said.

Each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is doing well, he added. “They are all building the kingdom. They are committed. They love the Lord. …

“The work goes on.”

From left, President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares stand in photograph by Busath Photography.
From left, President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares stand in photograph by Busath Photography. Credit: Busath Photography Inc

Participating in interviews for a recent series on the COVID-19 pandemic, other members of the Quorum of the Twelve echoed President Ballard’s resolve.

Elder Dale G. Renlund said that while the pandemic has halted economic productivity and social connectivity, the work of the kingdom continues to move forward. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles “are not idle, not sidelined” by the pandemic, he emphasized. “We are asking: ‘How can we do things better? How can we improve? How can we bless our people?’”

Elder Renlund said leaders are “packed with full confidence that the Savior will get us through this. And the only concern is, ‘Are we going to learn what we need to learn?’”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — with information directly from and in close coordination with area presidencies and local leaders — continue to counsel and pray for solutions as they direct the Church.

COVID-19 has “opened our eyes for new ways,” including the use of technology, said Elder Uchtdorf. “The Spirit can work wonderfully as we use new and unfamiliar ways of communicating with each other.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said the pandemic presents a “precious opportunity” to demonstrate faith.

“The Spirit is not blocked by a virus or by national boundaries or by medical forecasts.” There are “gifts from heaven that are not limited by trouble in the land or illness in the air.”

What members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles say about the implications of COVID-19

Elder Neil L. Andersen said the reality of the situation is clear. “All the world is in the hands of the Lord. All things are in His control.”

The work of the Lord has not and will not stop, Elder Andersen promised.

The organization of the Lord’s Church has provided Relief Societies and priesthood quorums to look out and care for one another — in good and hard times, said Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

Challenging times like these create specific opportunities when Relief Society and priesthood quorums “can come into their own and provide what they are uniquely organized to do.”

Elder David A. Bednar said that without the perspective of the gospel, many challenges, many of the hardships of life, “would be unbearable.”

In the midst of all of the challenges brought by the virus, the work goes forward, he said. “No unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing, and no pandemic will stop this work from progressing either.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook said revelation guided the creation and implementation of new initiatives and directives in recent years. Those inspired efforts now form “an interlocking pattern of strength” that sustains and supports members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This time,” Elder Cook said, “is foundational and will allow the Church to grow in the future and touch more lives and do more of the work of salvation than ever before. We will look back on this as a foundational time of preparation, and not just something we had to endure.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong said that after general conference, many asked him what it was like to speak to an empty auditorium. Reflecting government pandemic guidelines, the conference sessions included only the leaders on the program, all sitting 6 feet apart.

“I wasn’t speaking to an empty auditorium,” he said. “I could see in my mind friends and neighbors, members and leaders, and others across the world. …

“One of the things I have felt deeply during this time is that the Lord is close to us and we can be close to each other.”

Elder Ulisses Soares said one thing Church leaders have embraced amid the challenges this year is finding “creative ways to reach out to the people.

“I’m learning new ways to be better prepared for other challenges that may come in the future in my life,” he said. “I’m seeing things that I was not seeing before. I am feeling more inclined to think more about other people and reach out to them instead of focusing on my own needs.”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson said Latter-day Saints have been highly favored of the Lord during this time of pandemic as they have received words and counsel from a living prophet.

“We are living in a remarkable age, where we constantly see the hand of the Lord in the lives of His children,” said President Russell M. Nelson. “Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ know us, love us and are watching over us. Of that we can be certain.”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints walks with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors' Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints walks with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

At the same time, President Nelson spoke of the “unique challenge” facing the global Church. “These unique challenges will pass in due time,” said the Church president. “I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him. I see evidence of His hand in this holy work in so many ways.”

Millions viewed this message and other inspired words from President Nelson, said Elder Stevenson, who added: “Knowing the calamities that would come upon the world, the Lord called upon President Russell M. Nelson to guide us and help us manage these unique and perilous times.”

Elder Stevenson said that as Latter-day Saints build on the sure foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and look to the prophet, they will be able to see all the ways they have been “highly favored of the Lord.”

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many troubled days, Elder Ronald A. Rasband asked members “to believe in the promises of Jesus Christ, that He lives and that He is watching over us, caring for us and standing by us.”

With travel on hold, President Ballard said leaders are physically distant. “But spiritually, we are still in touch,” he said. “We are saddened we can’t be out among the people directly. But we can be with them via technology.”

If the “gospel is burning brightly in people’s hearts, they will have all they need to weather the storm,” he said. “We know if we will keep the commandments we will be fine.”