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"Pray at home," Church members advised

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints in Samoa is continuing to take the lead in efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus by cancelling church gatherings as a COVID-19 pandemic counter measure.

They are instead encouraging their members to pray at home.

The Church’s National Communication Director in Samoa, Leiataua Price Sa’u, told the Samoa Observer they started closing public gatherings last Sunday.

“Our church leaders in America made an announcement to suspend all public gatherings of Church members temporarily worldwide until further notice,” he said.

According to an announcement by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on its official website, it stated that all public worship services, including sacrament meetings have been suspended.

Lei'ataua said the church's local parishes take their instructions from the leaders in Utah.

“We also follow the Government of Samoa’s guidelines if there will be a ban of public gatherings because we prioritise the safety of our people," he said. “We have advised church members to continue praying at home.”

The Church in its public announcement said that “bishops should counsel with their stake presidents to determine how to make the sacrament available to members at least once a month.”

It also added that once a month doesn’t create an expected regularity of the sacrament, but allows for challenges created by extreme distances and extreme circumstances.

“Bishops and stake presidents—as well as branch and district presidents—are in discussion as how to provide the sacrament to local members and fulfill other instructions in this and similar correspondence from Church leaders.

“Many have already given direction on how to handle the sacrament ordinance in homes this weekend and in coming weeks.

“Every member needs the spiritual blessings that come from partaking of the sacrament.”

The announcement also highlighted that, “if members are unable to attend sacrament meeting because they are confined to a home, nursing home, or hospital, the bishop may assign priesthood holders to prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament to these members.”

The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Russell M. Nelson shared a message of hope on his social media channels, encouraging members to look to the Savior for peace and comfort during the continued COVID-19 outbreak.

“My dear friends, our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ know us, love us, and are watching over us. Of that we can be certain,” he said.

He also spoke on the impact of the COVID-19 virus on thousands of lives.

“We pray for those who are suffering and for those who have lost loved ones.”

He emphasized the Church’s desire to be part of “the solution to this challenge” and the prayerful consideration in making the recent temporary adjustments to worship.

“These unique challenges will pass in due time. I remain optimistic for the future. 

“I know the great and marvellous 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.”

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