Branch and congregational pastors, in consultation with the First Presidency, are trying to objectively determine when to begin meeting in person again. Branches with normal attendance of less than ten are able to begin meeting much sooner than larger branches, as can be seen in the following list. At our last branch and congregational presidents’ meeting, the following dates were discussed:
Blue Springs, MO
Center , MO
There has been much discussion about the health and economic impact of COVID-19, and much less about our spiritual health. However, this does not mean that we ignore the dangers of the “virus” in order to meet together. I once heard a sermon about the verse found in D&C 90:5b: “ All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also, otherwise there is no existence.” The preacher went on to talk about a minister in the church who ignored his own physical health in order to concentrate on his ministry. Because of this neglect, he suffered a stroke, which severely limited his ability to minister thereafter. Our physical health and spiritual health are independent to a degree as different spheres of existence, that is why we must protect both.
This brings me to my concern: what will be the spiritual toll of this virus? We need to be worshipping together and participating in the ordinances together, which we have not been able to do for two months. To compensate for this, we need to be calling in and connecting in to the services which are available, which services have been detailed previously. We also need to be increasing our daily study and prayer lives, so that we still are upholding the faith when our normal worship patterns can be resumed.
Keep in mind this verse found in 1Pet. 5:8 - “ Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist steadfast in the faith.” The time for isolation appears to be drawing to a close, thankfully, and we look forward to our renewed meeting together and the strengthening of our spiritual lives thereby.
The prophet Daniel had experience dealing with lions. His normal prayer life might have gotten him into the lions’ den (Dan. 6:10-16), but it was his innocence before God and the king that Daniel credited with his angelic protection from the carnivore (Dan. 6:22). Verse 23 mentions his faith in God, which we are sure was a faith nurtured by his daily spiritual discipline. Let us take seriously the threat the “lion” poses and take upon us “ the whole armor of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).
Keep the faith,
David Van Fleet
For the First Presidency