The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On March 12, 2020, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced that all public gatherings of Church members were temporarily suspended worldwide due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With this letter, we now authorize some meetings and activities to be resumed on a limited basis using a careful, phased approach. Area Presidencies will work with the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Presidency of the Seventy who supervise them in deciding when and where meetings can begin in their area. Using caution and adhering to local regulations, they will inform stake and ward leaders when to function using phase 1 or phase 2 guidelines and when to return to standard practices.
The enclosure with this letter provides principles and details to guide this process, which may be adjusted by Area Presidencies as conditions require. Within guidelines provided by the Area Presidency and in counsel with his bishops, each stake president will determine the specific timing for resuming ward and stake meetings and activities.
We are grateful for the faith of our members as they have worshipped at home and are grateful for the blessings that will come as we gather for worship and activities.
Sincerely yours,
The First Presidency

 


 

Guidelines for Safely Returning to Church Meetings and
Activities
May 19, 2020
Enclosure to the May 19, 2020, First Presidency letter “Safely
Returning to Church Meetings and Activities”
On March 12, 2020, the First Presidency and Quorum of the
Twelve Apostles announced that all public gatherings of Church
members were temporarily suspended worldwide due to the impact
of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These Brethren have now authorized that meetings and activities may be resumed using
a phased approach when local government regulations allow and Area Presidencies inform
local leaders. When such permission is granted for your location, please proceed in a
cautious, carefully planned and coordinated manner based on local government
regulations.
General Guidelines
Please see the enclosed First Presidency letter of April 16, 2020, “Administrative
Principles in Challenging Times,” including the enclosures “Administrative Principles in
Challenging Times” and “Directions for Essential Ordinances, Blessings, and Other
Church Functions.” Also, reference the document “Responding to COVID-19: Answers to
Questions.”
Please consider the following additional principles and guidelines:
• Use an abundance of caution in protecting the health and safety of members. Pay
particular attention to members whose health or age puts them at high risk.
• Advise individuals who do not feel well, or who have been asked to self-quarantine,
or who exhibit any of the following symptoms that they should not attend meetings:
fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, runny nose, or sore throat.
• Follow social distancing, handwashing, and other practices described in
“Preventative Measures for Members.”
• Follow government regulations in each location regarding public gatherings,
including meeting size, frequency, and duration. Please apply government
regulations.
• Please return to regular practices slowly, continuing to function remotely using
technology while beginning in-person meetings in a phased approach as described
below. Priority for in-person gatherings should be given to meetings where
ordinances are performed, such as baptisms and sacrament meetings.
Guidelines for Safely Returning to Church Meetings and Activities
May 19, 2020
Page 2 of 4
Phased Approach
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. The following
chart provides examples and may be adjusted by Area Presidencies, as conditions require.
Within guidelines provided by the Area Presidency and in counsel with his bishops, each
stake president will determine the specific timing for resuming ward and stake meetings
and activities.
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.
Meetings Phase 1 Phase 2
Sabbath Day Shortened meetings at the
meetinghouse with up to 99
individuals, following local
government regulations
Meetings at the meetinghouse
with 100 or more individuals,
following local government
regulations
All other meetings
and activities,
including funerals,
and weddings
Shortened meetings,
following local government
regulations or may be held
remotely using technology
Meetings at the meetinghouse
may be held following local
government regulations.
Guidelines for Safely Returning to Church Meetings and Activities
May 19, 2020
Page 3 of 4
Primary. During phases 1 and 2, leaders may determine whether to have nursery and
some younger Primary classes. They may also determine whether to hold both singing time
and classes.
Sanitary procedures. Leaders should ensure that buildings are thoroughly cleaned after
each set of meetings, especially areas that are touched, such as doorknobs, light switches,
water fountains, microphones, and pulpits. Wards may post signs in restrooms as a
reminder to wash hands. Where available, hand sanitizer should be provided in
meetinghouse foyers. According to local government regulations, members may be
encouraged to wear face masks. Wards may consider discontinuing printed programs until
conditions return to normal.
Blessing of children. The bishop may authorize blessings to be performed either at the
family’s home or at the meetinghouse.
Baptism and confirmation. Baptism and confirmation requires approval of priesthood
leaders with the appropriate keys. Baptismal services may be held with as few as four
people, or more where allowed. Others can view the baptism using remote technology.
Until sacrament meetings return to normal schedules, converts may be confirmed
immediately after their baptism rather than in a sacrament meeting. The Aaronic Priesthood
may also be conferred upon males of the appropriate age immediately following their
baptism and confirmation, under the direction of the bishop.
Administering the Sacrament—General Principles
To help keep members healthy and safe, priesthood holders in all cases should follow
these general guidelines in the preparation and passing of the sacrament regardless of where
it is administered:
• Priesthood holders who do not feel well should remain at home.
• 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.
• All should cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue. They should then throw the
tissue in the trash and wash or sanitize their hands. Surfaces on sacrament trays,
including handles, should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
Guidelines for Safely Returning to Church Meetings and Activities
May 19, 2020
Page 4 of 4
Administering the Sacrament in Homes
• 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.
Administering the Sacrament in Meetinghouses*
• 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.
* Photos that demonstrate how these principles may be properly applied are available
at Newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

1
ADMINISTRATIVE PRINCIPLES
IN CHALLENGING TIMES
April 16, 2020
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints focuses on divinely
appointed responsibilities to assist members as they progress on the
covenant path toward eternal life. To help accomplish this divine purpose,
the Church and its leaders provide priesthood authority and keys,
covenants and ordinances, and prophetic direction. The Church invites all
people to come unto Jesus Christ and faithfully obey His commandments.
Challenging Times
The scriptures are clear that in this dispensation we will experience
challenging times. Amid difficult circumstances, the Church will
proclaim fundamental principles and administer needed ordinances to
bless Heavenly Father’s children. Whatever the time or circumstances,
certain things are essential in the Lord’s Church. These include sacred
doctrine and ordinances.
Global Citizen Responsibility
Members of the Church are grateful for the laws of many nations around
the world that protect religious freedom and respect the sacred freedom of
conscience.
2
The Church teaches that its members should sustain and uphold the laws
where they reside. These governments enact such laws as in their own
judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest. We
acknowledge that in exceptional circumstances all individual rights may
be reasonably restricted, for a time to protect the safety of the general
public.
In times of pandemic or natural disaster the Church will respond to official
orders to take needed actions such as cancelling or postponing meetings
or other gatherings. The Church and its members are committed to being
good citizens and good neighbors. The Church has a long history of
reaching out and providing assistance to those in need.
Along with our commitment to be good global citizens, we respectfully
assert that reasonable accommodations be extended to all people of faith
as they strive to participate in rites, that are foundational to their faith.
The Lord Has Prepared His Church
Inspired direction over many years has prepared the Lord’s Church and
its members, both temporally and spiritually, for changing and
challenging times.
3
In addition to the long-time counsel for members to have food storage in
their homes, Church members are focused on observing the Sabbath Day,
ministering to others, and strengthening Melchizedek Priesthood quorums
and Relief Societies. Through His prophets, the Lord has increased focus
on home-centered, Church-supported gospel learning and living.
Members have been encouraged to make their homes true sanctuaries of
faith where children and youth are taught the gospel. The Come, Follow
Me curriculum provides a model where members everywhere learn the
gospel in their homes and at Church. The Children and Youth program is
also home-centered, allowing parents to nurture their children spiritually,
intellectually, physically, and socially.
Members have been encouraged to use technology to share gospel
messages in normal and natural ways. Missionaries have been provided
devices that permit them to find and teach even when in-person contact is
not possible. Members can engage in family history work from their
homes.
When we look at the interlocking patterns of these efforts and many
others, we can see how the Lord has carefully orchestrated and sequenced
us to prepare for challenging times.
Foundational Principles and Ordinances
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church of order.
Ordinances and blessings are sacred acts provided by the authority of the
4
priesthood. While some procedures may change depending on
circumstances, fundamental doctrine, principles, and ordinances must be
protected.
Many ordinances require the laying on of hands, such as confirmations,
ordinations, blessings, settings apart, and conferring of priesthood keys.
Such ordinances require that the priesthood holder who performs the
ordinance must be in the same location as the recipient. Priesthood
ordinances cannot be performed remotely using technology. When
circumstances require, others may observe the ordinance remotely using
technology if authorized by the presiding authority.
In these challenging times, presiding authorities must exercise wisdom as
to which ordinances should be temporarily deferred. When
communicable disease is a concern, those who perform ordinances should
take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others.
Attached hereto are directions for essential ordinances, blessings, and
other Church functions.
These documents are issued in response to the disruptions in Church
procedures and member activities caused by the worldwide COVID-19
pandemic. They should be used as guidance for so long as this pandemic
5
and its associated official limitations on Church meetings and public
exposures exist in a particular country or geographic portion of a country.
Other directions may be issued later.
Conclusion
As the prophet Nephi said, “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the
children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may
accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). The
Lord will help us. The power of the priesthood and the righteousness of
members will help us go forward in days that are ahead.

DIRECTIONS FOR ESSENTIAL ORDINANCES,BLESSINGS,
AND OTHER CHURCH FUNCTIONS
April 16, 2020

In exceptional times, ordinances can usually be accomplished while
exercising necessary precautions. For example, when communicable
disease is a concern, those who perform ordinances should thoroughly
wash their hands and may also use gloves and face masks.
Baptisms and Confirmations
Baptisms and confirmations require the approval of a priesthood leader
with the appropriate keys. When needed, baptismal services may proceed
with as few as four people: the baptismal candidate, the priest or
Melchizedek Priesthood holder performing the baptism, and two
witnesses. A baptism is performed under the authorization of a bishop or
mission president who holds the necessary priesthood keys. The bishop or
mission president or someone they designate (who could be one of the
witnesses) must observe and record the baptism and confirmation. If
necessary, the person granting the authorization may do so remotely using
technology. Leaders, family, and friends may observe remotely using
technology. When sacrament meetings are temporarily suspended,
converts may be confirmed immediately after the baptism.

Priesthood Ordinations and Settings Apart
Priesthood ordinations and settings apart require the advance approval of
the person holding the appropriate priesthood keys. They also require the
physical laying on of hands by an authorized priesthood holder. The
ordinance must be observed and recorded by the individual holding the
priesthood keys or someone he designates. If necessary, this individual
may observe the ordinance remotely using technology. Leaders, family,
and friends may observe remotely using technology.
Ordinations, callings, and settings apart may be performed without a prior
sustaining in ward and stake settings if approved in advance by the person
holding the appropriate priesthood keys. This allows the work of the Lord
to move forward, and the action is later ratified when meetings are
resumed.
Administering to the Sick
A priesthood blessing requires the physical laying on of hands. Normally,
two or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders administer, but one may do
it alone. After taking every necessary precaution, when conditions
prohibit placing hands on a person’s head, a prayer can be offered,
including using technology. This is a prayer of faith and not a priesthood
blessing. Anyone at any time may pray, fast or otherwise minister to
others.

Administering the Sacrament
Members should take advantage of the blessings of attending sacrament
meeting and partaking of the sacrament weekly when possible. In
exceptional circumstances, when ward sacrament meetings are not held
for an extended time, a bishop may authorize worthy priesthood holders
in his ward to prepare and administer the sacrament in their own homes
or in the homes of other ward members who do not have a worthy priest
or Melchizedek Priesthood holder in the home. (See General Handbook,
18.9.1.) When needed, the sacrament may be administered by a single
priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder.
Members may provide their own bread and water. However, preparing the
sacrament should be done by the authorized priesthood holder(s). The
priesthood holder(s) administering the sacrament must be in the same
location as those who receive it when they break the bread, say the
prayers, and pass the emblems. In unusual circumstances when the
sacrament is not available, members can be comforted by studying the
sacrament prayers and recommitting to live the covenants members have
made and praying for the day they will receive it in person, properly
administered by the priesthood.
Individuals and families are blessed when they can hold a private, homecentered Sabbath worship service, in person or remotely. Such worship can include prayers, hymns, and gospel study. When authorized,
priesthood holder(s) are present, the sacrament may be blessed and
passed.
Other Church Functions
Meetings. In extreme circumstances, leaders may temporarily suspend
meetings and activities. When conditions require, bishopric meetings,
interviews, and ward council meetings may take place remotely using
technology, such as phone calls or video calls. Bishops and ward leaders
may use technology for messages to supplement a member’s home
centered worship.
Ministering. Ministering brothers and sisters will discover that there are
varied ways to provide needed support to their assigned individuals and
families. Whether ministering is done in person or remotely using
technology depends on local circumstances and the needs, desires, and
health of those involved. Ministering interviews may be done remotely
using technology when needed. In extreme cases, in-person ministering
may be limited to addressing a serious and urgent physical, mental, or
emotional need. Ministering brothers and sisters should demonstrate their
love and support in appropriate ways.