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L.D.S. hierarchy give approval for "phased return"

The top hierarchy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (L.D.S.) has given approval for a phased return to weekly worship services in Samoa.

Church services and activities by the LDS in Samoa were temporarily suspended following the declaration of a state of emergency (SOE) in late March to mitigate risks associated with the coronavirus (Covid-19).

In a letter released by the First Presidency of the LDS, the church’s headquarter have announced the authorisation of meetings and activities to resume on a limited basis using a careful, phased approach.

They further stated in the letter that Area Presidencies will work with the members 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 the area.  

According to the guidelines, meetings and activities may resume using a phased approach "when local government regulations allow and Area Presidencies inform local leaders."

Once granted permission, they are advised to proceed in a cautious, carefully planned and coordinated manner based on local government regulations.

Area Presidencies (with the approval of the Quorum of the Twelve and the Presidency of the Seventy) will inform stake and ward leaders when to function using Phase 1 or Phase 2 and the time they will return to standard practices. Sabbath Day Worship Services at phase 1 will have shortened meetings at the meetinghouse with up to 99 individuals, following local regulations while phase 2 will have meetings at the meetinghouse with 100 or more individuals, following local government regulations. 

However, this may be adjusted by Area Presidencies as local conditions require and as approved by their contact in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Presidency of the Seventy.

The guidelines further explain administering the sacrament in homes, stating that "where needed, bishops may continue to authorise worthy priesthood holders to prepare and administer the sacrament at home."

In an email response to queries by Samoa Observer, Elder Sapele Fa'alogo Jr of the Pacific Area Seventy, stated: "The principle and guidelines were provided to us yesterday and it will take time to apply them in every country, including Samoa. We will be very careful and counsel widely, ensuring we are following the lead of the Government and its health and safety guidelines."

"We will do this thoughtfully and carefully and in the Lord's way. It gives us another opportunity to seek to hear the voice of the Lord in the challenges of our day. We are confident he will answer our prayers with love, peace, and guiding inspiration."

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