Utah Area Presidency asks local leaders to develop a plan to return to in-person Church meetings

With the decrease in Utah’s COVID-19 infection rates, the Utah Area Presidency has asked local leaders to develop a plan to return to in-person Church meetings.

“As infection rates in Utah continue to decrease and vaccinations significantly increase, we are getting closer to a time when we can return to our normal Church meetings and activities,” wrote Elder Craig C. Christensen, Elder Evan A Schmutz and Elder Walter F. González. In counsel with senior Church leaders, “we now ask stake presidents, in consultation with bishops and others, to develop plans and take responsibility for how members in their stakes return to in-person Church meetings and activities for all organizations.”

The Utah Area Presidency sent the letter, titled “Returning to Church Meetings and Activities in the Utah Area,” to stake presidents, bishops and others “who throughout the COVID–19 pandemic have developed plans and implemented guidelines to allow our members to worship at home and at Church in safe and compliant ways.”

The April 8 letter highlighted three cautions in the letter to local leaders, who will develop the plan to return to in-person meetings and activities:

  • Comply with all directives from state and local governmental agencies and continue to follow appropriate safety guidelines and protocols, including masks and distancing, as determined by stake presidencies.
  • Continue to broadcast Sunday worship services as directed by the First Presidency (Sept. 11, 2020, letter: Safely Engaging in Church Meetings and Activities), and provide ways for certain members to administer the sacrament in their homes.
  • Stake presidencies may continue with virtual second-hour classes (especially when multiple wards meet in the same building and meeting times overlap), congregate in larger spaces or implement other safe options.

The Utah Area Presidency has issued three previous letters about gathering during the pandemic — on Sept. 11, Nov. 12 and Feb. 3. Each directed local congregations to align with state public health orders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced on March 12, 2020, the suspension of all Church gatherings — including public worship services and sacrament meetings, stake conferences, leadership conferences, and stake, branch or ward activities. “We have considered the counsel of local Church leaders, government officials and medical professionals, and sought the Lord’s guidance in these matters,” they wrote. They added, “We are deeply concerned about the global spreading of illness caused by COVID-19.”

President Russell M. Nelson and other senior Church leaders received COVID-19 vaccines in January and encouraged members to safeguard themselves and others “through immunization.”

Speaking in the opening moments of the Church’s the 191st Annual General Conference, President Nelson spoke of the global pandemic and assured the worldwide membership that the “Lord directs the affairs of His Church.”

Here is the full letter:

The Utah Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared the following message with Church leaders in Utah on April 8, 2021.

Returning to Church Meetings and Activities in the Utah Area

We are deeply grateful for the leadership of stake presidents, bishops and others in the Utah Area who throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have developed plans and implemented guidelines to allow our members to worship at home and at Church in safe and compliant ways. As infection rates in Utah continue to decrease and vaccinations significantly increase, we are getting closer to a time when we can return to our normal church meetings and activities.

In counsel with senior Church leaders, and taking into consideration the cautions outlined below, we now ask stake presidents, in consultation with bishops and others, to develop plans and take responsibility for how members in their stakes return to in-person church meetings and activities for all organizations.

  • Comply with all directives from state and local governmental agencies and continue to follow appropriate safety guidelines and protocols, including masks and distancing, as determined by stake presidencies.
  • Continue to broadcast Sunday worship services as directed by the First Presidency and provide ways for certain members to administer the sacrament in their homes.
  • Stake presidencies may continue with virtual second-hour classes (especially when multiple wards meet in the same building and meeting times overlap), congregate in larger spaces, or implement other safe options.

The Utah Area Presidency