That’s MCU for the Mormon Church Universe, not the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although there is an undeniable element of fantasy in both. Life in the MCU through 2019 was a standard weekly cycle of attending Sunday meetings, getting your kid off to early morning seminary, and writing those tithing checks. Then in 2020, Covid reared its ugly head and we entered Phase One of the MCU: the Church suspended all meetings worldwide on March 12, 2020, then on March 20, 2020, the Church announced that most missionaries serving around the world would be returned to their home countries to self-isolate for 14 days, after which they would be reassigned to missions within their home country to complete their missionary service. (Both links are to official Newsroom announcements.) In addition, operations of LDS temples worldwide were suspended.
Phase One was a huge step backwards, mirrored by lockdowns, travel restrictions, and border closings around the world. We entered Phase Two of the MCU gradually in late summer 2020 as LDS meetings resumed. This Salt Lake Tribune article dated September 11, 2020 reports that the Church authorized LDS congregations worldwide to resume meetings, as authorized by the regional Area Presidencies and under strict guidelines tailored to each region. So we’ve been in Phase Two for roughly two months. I’m thinking Phase Two lasts until mid-2021 when vaccine distribution and administration is in full swing and some form of “return to normal” or some form of the new normal become feasible. A frequently updated post at the Newsroom summarizes various steps taken by the Church to partially resume some activities during Phase Two.
I am going to list a few recent developments with a comment or two, then solicit additional observations from readers in the comments. I know that the particulars of what is happening on the ground vary a lot across countries, states, and even stakes within the same state.
- Meetings started, meetings suspended: My ward here in my little corner of Wyoming resumed meetings about a month and a half ago, with the two wards trading use of the building every other week and only a one-hour sacrament meeting being held. Masks were required for those attending in person; those at higher risk were encouraged to stay home and view the meeting remotely. In light of suddenly increasing Covid cases, in-person meetings were just suspended again, although virtual meetings (streaming prayers, announcements, and talks from the chapel pulpit) are continuing. With Covid numbers spiking all across the United States and in many other countries, I’m guessing in-person Sunday meetings will be suspended again in many places.
- Missionaries aren’t doing much. Just getting them fed by members is a complicated task now, much less doing any of the standard proselyting activities. During the summer, we had a three-missionary team in our town over for dinner. We set up a table and chairs on our front lawn, with wife and I keeping our social distance, masked up and sitting on the front step. Sunday we’ll drop off a dinner on their doorstep. It is just a really tough time to be an LDS missionary.
- But missionaries are still going out. Just had a young man give his farewell talk on Sunday. He entered the “virtual MTC” the next day. At home. There’s a half-dozen missionaries currently serving from my ward, although I wonder what sort of missionary activities they are doing at the moment. But it’s still the case that young LDS are still excited to begin missions and that families are thrilled to support their missionaries, whatever the circumstances.
- Temples aren’t doing much. Here is an updated list of temples and the operational status for each. Every single temple that isn’t closed for repairs and refurbishing is either at Stage 1 (just wedding sealings by appointment only) or Stage 2 (living ordinances only, by appointment, but no proxy work) in a four-stage system. The standard temple visit for adult Mormons (get a name and do a proxy endowment session) is pretty much dead in the water at the moment. I think it’s going to be a long time before anyone is comfortable with the idea of a bunch of old people getting together for about 90 minutes in a closed room, coughing from time to time, sitting shoulder to shoulder.
- Let’s not sing anymore. Two features of standard LDS Sunday worship have proven especially problematic: singing and passing the sacrament. I haven’t attended in person since the March 2020 suspension, so I’m going to let readers share how singing and sacrament have been handled in their ward or branch over the last two months.
- Looking forward to Thanksgiving 2021. Because Thanksgiving 2020 just ain’t happening. At least not the usual large gathering of family and a stray friend or two. Maybe the same for Christmas. This will be a bitter pill for Mormons in Utah and Idaho to swallow, and my guess is many in these states will simply throw caution to the wind and go ahead with large family gatherings. For us, it’s gonna be Zoom visits and group online games this year.
What’s different in your country, state, or ward? Here’s a reminder: Phase Two is not the New Normal. Phase Two is an extended period of ad hoc resumptions of various activities of daily life at home, at work, at church, at school, and while travelling. Phase Two lasts until a vaccine is widely administered and such activities in something like pre-Covid form can resume with only minimal risk to participants. That will be Phase Three and it is still at least six months away.
And let me be perfectly clear: This is a serious post. My natural inclination to be a bit lighthearted about even serious topics may have peeked through a time or two above, but this is an eminently serious matter. I have lost a close family member to Covid. I suspect some readers have as well. There’s a good chance other readers will lose a family member or two during the next two months over the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. The Church deserves credit for (after some initial hesitation) closing down Sunday meetings and temple operations. Let’s hope the Church and local units retain this cautious approach as we continue to struggle our way through Phase Two.
I invite your comments on how things are going in your ward, your family, your town, your state, or your country. My condolences to anyone who has lost a family member in this difficult time, often without reassuring family hospital visits or the standard funeral activities to console family and friends. My encouragement to everyone to adopt simple safety procedures to minimize risk to self and family. We will get through this.
One of your assumptions seems to be that members of the Church will follow predictable patterns of attendance based on what phase we are in. But we should consider the possibility that we may never go back to the good old pre-Covid days completely. We will probably see some older folks who choose not not to return given their perceived risk, even with a vaccine . And the same can be said for specific members with certain health conditions.
And then there’s another group of members who have tasted, for the first time, how life can be without long and constant Church activities and meetings. A certain percentage of these members have discovered that they like the Church-lite model more than the pre-Covid model. And they aren’t coming back, at least not on a consistent basis. Some of these folks have had months to really question their beliefs and the value of Church and it’s associated meetings and programs. For others, it’s much more simple: Sundays are much more pleasant at home with the family than dressing up and going to meetings.
Assuming we get a vaccine in 2021, it will be interesting to see how closely the new-normal resembles the pre-Covid normal.
(Dave B, I never know when and where our thoughts and comments cross. This may be seen as a cross-posting.)
What I’m seeing and hearing:
1. Some are feeling relief. Less stressed by Church matters because there are fewer confrontations. Fewer people asking “why didn’t you come to Church?” Smaller or fewer demands in certain callings (but more in certain other callings). Easier to put off a temple recommend interview or a new assignment or tithing settlement. Fewer debates within the family where people are not at the same place regarding Church or where teenagers would argue not to go to Church at all, in normal conditions.
2. Some are confronting a reality that what they were getting out of Church was largely community, and maybe music, and that without meeting regularly there’s little or nothing left.
3. Some are finding a broader world of Mormon experience. Family church. Online not-correlated programming like the Dialogue Sunday study program and other programs and firesides that feel Mormon but are not a local ward meeting. Finding that there’s a way to stay connected to the tradition without going to Church at all.
4.Some–too many–are feeling overwhelmed by pandemic conditions including remote school and remote church and remote work, and (perhaps involuntarily) dropping out of anything Church or even religion related.
I sense a lot of people craving normalcy but not getting it. If the pandemic had been short, I would have bet on most people snapping back to where they were in late 2019. However, now expecting pandemic conditions to continue for more than a year, I no longer expect a snap back to old normal. Something new is coming.
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.
My daughter is a BYU student who left on a mission in January. Our view is that – for her – now is a good time to serve a mission. She still feels somewhat productive which favorably surprises me. It’s better for her to miss the typical mission experience than to miss two years of less-effective schooling.
I’ve loved the break from church while my wife misses church a good deal. We’ve passed on the in person Sacrament meeting because my wife is higher risk. I’ve adopted a more social Sunday routine sometimes including outdoor activities with a small number of non-LDS friends (mountain biking or running) that frustrates my wife.
Still attending here in Texas. Not sure we should be. Began Facebook broadcast last Sunday for first time. Wondering what the new normal will be and when.
Thanks for the comments, everyone.
josh h said, “But we should consider the possibility that we may never go back to the good old pre-Covid days completely.” I agree. The New Normal will be somewhere halfway between the Old Normal and Phase Two. Some industries may never recover: cruises, theaters, airlines.
christian kimball said, “If the pandemic had been short, I would have bet on most people snapping back to where they were in late 2019. However, now expecting pandemic conditions to continue for more than a year, I no longer expect a snap back to old normal.” I agree, there’s no going back. Businesses will incorporate permanent changes to their operations. People will find their perceptions and preferences have changed as well. No one will want to be in a crowded room anymore, ever.
Toad, the whole experience has been a lot tougher on extroverts. For introverts, on the other hand, it’s almost a dream vacation.
Agree with @ChristianKimball.
In Utah County nearly everyone, including my ward, is trying to live as normally as possible. My stake is operating at the outer bounds of the law and not with actual safety in mind IMHO. I think a lot of lip service is paid to safety but many people don’t actually take this seriously and don’t follow through.
I don’t miss church, my kids don’t miss church. My spouse does. I’m not sure what I’ll do if my kids don’t want to go back because I’m not inclined to force it.
Disagree. Some of us can’t wint for a return to a world where we can attend crowded concerts, sporting events, parties, and clubs and where people don’t view proximity to another person as a thing to be feared.
My family was quietly on the way out the door before the pandemic began so how it affected our church attendance boils down to, now we don’t have to hedge around the issue with family if they ask. We don’t attend in an effort to protect our high risk child. It’s still a lie, but it has a grain of truth.
That said I do still see what’s going on through FB and emails from the Bishop. Our ward went back to church the last weekend in May. The ward was split in half, each attending every other week. Spaced apart by family groups, cautionary sacrament procedures, and masks required except for singing (Whyyyyyyy???) Three wards attended sacrament meeting every week. So a lot of people were in and out of the building on Sundays. About in September they adjusted to more people allowed to attend, so it was everyone every week, only those who were concerned for their health (high risk) should stay home. Same precautions used as before. Except now you had to get new special permission for sacrament in the home and you better have extenuating circumstances. Then things went off the rails a few weeks ago in Utah and they reverted back to every other week, smaller groups and people had to keep their masks on for singing. The impression I get is the shots were being called by the Stake and the Bishops really had no say in how it was all working for their wards.
Youth activities resumed in the summer. I had encouraged my two youth age sons to participate in a fishing night because 1) it was outside and seemed like a safe activity. They had outlined the safety precautions they were going to expect . 2) It is really hard to not be an active LDS teenager in a rural UT community. I thought they could get some good social interaction out of it. 3) Their dad would go with them. No one followed the safety precautions outlined in the invitation. They caught their fish, cooked them, ate them away from everyone else and came home with no desire to participate in another activity. The new Covid rules that were put in place this month regarding youth activities are: Only activities that are religious in nature can take place.
Based on this limited experience my impression has been the Church (or at least my Stake leadership) is more interested in retention than anything else. I could be wrong. I HOPE I’m wrong. But that is the impression I am left with. Which I am sure is colored by my waning interest in “The Church” in general. My guess is, when Phase New Normal rolls out, those who were strong will be stronger, and those who were struggling will be gone.
I am impressed by our Primary Presidency’s innovation in putting together a video for the primary program. The kids are recording their parts and singing in small groups and the finished product will be presented to the ward. I think it’s a brilliant way to go about it.
I feel more like a Catholic now. I attend church every other week to hear a sermon by the bishop, take the sacrament and go home. Little social interaction with members. The Spanish ward I attend takes COVID very seriously. We do sing hymns, two of them. My wife plays the organ.
For Thanksgiving, my wife and I will have it with our two kids and that’s it. My COVID-denying parents and sister’s family will be having a larger Thanksgiving will my sister’s in-laws and help spread COVID for sure. I feel like there is nothing you can say to them. Fox News and right-wing media is the ultimate source of truth and to say anything contrary is to get awkward pauses and tension and a persistent brother-in-law who spares no attempts to prove he’s right. Gatherings during COVID with them have been barely tolerable as is. Now with the current numbers heading into winter, I have determined that gathering with them is nearly impossible.
I live close to BYU in a ward that has been run by the wealthy people who live on a gated street who keep themselves apart from the rest of the ward ever since the wards in our stake were completely changed around because all of the high priests and tithing dollars were located east of the Y campus. Besides these “beautiful” people we have the BYU married couples who cycle in and out of the ward every semester and usually don’t contribute anything to the ward, the old people who have lived in our area ever since the GIs returned from WWII to go to BYU, and then there are handful of us who don’t fit in any category at all. Even before the pandemic there was no sort of ward unity, and since March our bishop has given up any pretense of even caring about anyone that doesn’t live on his gated street. I already was not attending church because I have stage 4 osteoarthritis from the top of my neck to the bottom of my spine. The benches and chairs that are used in LDS church buildings must’ve been designed by descendants of the Spanish Inquisitioners. Plus church had already become difficult for my husband and I because the only time the Savior’s name was mentioned was at the end of prayers, in the sacrament prayers and in the hymns. Only three or four other people in the ward noticed the same thing. I got COVID-19 at the beginning of June and am a long-hauler dealing with symptoms that appear to be long term in nature. This is another reason to stay home and have a much more spiritual Sunday where I know that the Lord actually cares about my husband and me and where we can focus on the things that matter in the gospel and not hear yet another boring and poorly prepared regurgitated conference talk. We plan to stick to home church because of my physical health challenges and because we like having the freedom to do away with all correlated materials and study those gospel topics that are most important to us using whatever materials we find to be the most helpful and spiritually insightful.
I live in Queensland Australia, population 5 million, in a suburb of the capital city Brisbane 2.4 million. There is a Temple in Brisbane which is available for weddings only.
Our complete ward now meets for sacrament and a talk, socially isolated, no masks. We sing, and the sacrament bread is delivered to your hand by tongs, the water cups are socially distanced, and put back in a different tray. We wore masks the first couple of weeks, but the likelihood of there being anyone positive there is remote. There are youth activities, and bishops youth council.
Queensland has not had a new case in the community, or death for 3 months. Total deaths 6. People coming from overseas are required to quarinteen in specified hotels for 2 weeks, and be tested weekly, there are some cases in quarinteen, but are not allowed out until clear.
Our population is similar to Utah, and Idaho combined, I look at those covid figures, and I would not be going to church there.
Tonight there is a rugby league, state of origin match, and for the first time this year the stadium will be at full capacity. There is a feeling that we have worked together to beat the virus. There have been outbreaks in other states, but these are now under control too. We had a state election the week before your election, Our state premier was re-elected partly based on her leadership in controling the virus. She has been taunted for closing our borders to other states when they had outbreaks, by more conservative state and federal leaders.
One of our big industries is tourism( great barrier reef, best beaches in the world all publicly available), and another foreign students, we do still have mining and agriculture. Internal tourism is returning, but no internationl tourists allowed (except NZ), certainly not from America, till you control the virus.
I have notification on facebook that the prophet is going to say something uplifting tomorrow. I am hoping he tells people to take the virus seriously, and wear masks. I hope he also congratulates Biden on winning the election, so those who believe Trump undermining the vote counting process, will hear another voice of truth they might listen to.
I forgot to mention that we have had no communication from any church members, apart from a couple of my wifes friends. Only general messages when church was returning. The bishop took our temperature one sunday. If we were being shunned it would be no different.
Christiankimball is on target with his comments. This has been a chance to evaluate everything in my life and determine what’s valuable to keep and what’s ok to let go. My family attends a branch on a native reservation in our stake. The governor of the reservation has had executive orders in place prohibiting gatherings since April, and there is no end in sight. So we haven’t formally met for church at all and that’s just fine. Might be mid-21 before it does happen.
I’m waiting for the stake , in the name of retaining members, to stop authorizing us to do sacrament at home and send us to another ward in the stake. The area authority is already pushing (hard) for singing in meetings and weekly engagement with the youth. To me that reeks of being scared that a sizable percentage of the membership is never going to resurface after the pandemic.
I’m not an attendee, but to read everyone’s experiences, it sounds like a lot of members have been looking for something to pry them loose, and a lot of local leaders are terrified that only half the members will come back when this is all over. If that perception is consistent, it suggests an organization in crisis. It will be interesting to see how leadership handles it.
I can tell you having been recently released as a bishop in the US outside the “Mormon Corridor” (August 2020), the leadership (Area Authority, Stake Presidents) in our area are terrified regarding the participation numbers once we have moved beyond the pandemic. I want to reiterate, absolutely terrified. I spent hours on bishops’ calls over the late spring and summer trying to negotiate how and when to reopen meetings and activities and in my opinion there are deep divisions within the Church among the rank and file and the leadership class over COVID and a host of other issues that have the organization at the ground level in almost total disarray. I will speak for myself and say that I was released as bishop for not being willing toe the company line on COVID in our local area. Unfortunately, our stake presidency politicized COVID from early on and if one sought to establish a reasonable position based on the best available science you were ignored and in my case removed from office despite the fact that I kept all of my disagreement with the Stake President private. I am not the only bishop that I am aware of that has been released over COVID concerns. Finally, my opinion is that COVID and the various consequences that from from it will significantly impair Church participation going forward.
Thanks for the comments, everyone. This seems like a battle every stake is fighting, each with its own strategy.
Elisa has identified a new form of local leader roulette, one that might get you sick or kill your grandma: “My stake is operating at the outer bounds of the law and not with actual safety in mind.”
Cloves said, “Except now you had to get new special permission for sacrament in the home and you better have extenuating circumstances.” I don’t quite understand local leaders playing hardball with the sacrament. If people elect to stay home because they are at heightened risk, this will just make them ticked off at local leaders and they won’t go anyway because of the health risk. If people are staying home just because they are exhausted or bored by church, this won’t make them go. There are few benefits and significant harms to this approach. Oh well, it’s not the first time leaders pursue a dumb policy.
Geoff-Aus, we’re all envious of the admirable performance of Australia in fighting the virus. I hope that when President Biden calls for advice, your officials share how you did it. And send us more Australian actors.
jaredsbrother said, ” a lot of local leaders are terrified that only half the members will come back when this is all over.” That’s the big question that’s looming over the Church at the moment. If they tap that $100 billion fund for a couple of billion to upgrade ventilation at every church building in the world, that would help.
My wife and I are empty-nesters living in northern Utah and we attend the abbreviated Sacrament Meeting every other week and watch it on Facebook the other weeks. I don’t enjoy them because the messages are repetitious and tired. A few of the more zealous members keep carrying on about how the challenges of 2020, along with some liberally interpreted statements for RMN, are signs that the second coming is near and that we need to get ourselves ready. That message is actually a demotivator to me.
What I’ve missed the most this year is the physical contact with our children and grandchildren. We see them regularly, often using Facetime, but the loss that comes with not being able to play, sit close, hug, etc. has been significant to us. My realization is that when COVID is behind us and life gets back to normal, when I’m faced with that inevitable conflict of carrying out a Church expectation or spending time with kids and grandkids, I’ll choose the kids and grandkids because it’s these relationships, not the ones created by Ward boundaries, that bring me genuine joy.
To Goeff-Aus’s point, when RMN delivers a message of hope on Friday, I hope it includes his endorsement of scientific studies which strongly suggest that wearing masks, social distancing, not gathering in homes (or churches), and exercising good personal hygiene, are the most Christian actions we can take at this time. We certainly don’t need another Church-wide fast.
My west coast ward has had in-person sacrament meetings (socially distant, masks required, etc.) since late July. I don’t go, since a dull, poorly prepared sermon is not worth risking my family’s lives for. In September, they began webcasting the sacrament meetings for the sake of those who could not attend in person, minus the actual sacrament ordinance. My ward (and by extension, the stake) was very slow to adopt technology for staying connected; when we first locked down earlier this year, my local leaders were focusing all their effort on the goal of resuming in-person meetings as soon as possible, assuming the pandemic wouldn’t last more than a few weeks. Because they were late to the party in shifting to an electronic ministry, participation and interest has dropped off significantly. Last Sunday, about 20 people attended in person and a dozen families/individuals were watching online–fewer than 40 in total. Pre-COVID, my ward’s average weekly attendance was well over 100. From the beginning, they feared that members would get “too comfortable” not coming to Church in person, and because of the lack of good leadership, that’s exactly what’s happening.
At least one couple in my ward has gotten divorced over the summer. They were among the most active, stalwart members, and as far as I could tell, very stable people with a picture-perfect family. No one saw it coming.
To my bishop’s credit, though, on at least one occasion he forcefully ejected a zealous member who refused to put on a mask for sacrament meeting.
When the pandemic passes, the Church at the local level most likely will never return to what it was before. I believe there will be some kind of administrative overhaul concerning how we count and deal with the records of inactive members. In pre-COVID times, my ward had an activity rate below 30% and was already an albatross around our necks. I hope they make it easier to purge inactives from the rolls.
I live in an area where the temple is being built. They have called the new temple presidency. They were supposed to have it dedicated by now, but that never happened. Elder Gong was supposed to dedicate it but he got covid, so we are glad he didn’t come. Stay home and rest! I feel bad for the temple presidency. There is almost nothing for them to do except record talks and give them to the wards and branches but nobody can attend anyways. They are supposed to give training to the temple workers in february, maybe. What really stinks is two of them are like mid to late 70’s, in 3 years they’ll be 80 or over so I hope they make it
John W: I’ve often thought during the pandemic about how older religions like Catholicism evolved over the centuries in response to things like the black plague. Perhaps they were onto some things.
We moved across town a month ago. In our old ward, (SP is a doctor and takes everything VERY seriously), we had strict restrictions on number of people, masks mandatory, and no singing. New ward, we have only been once. They all wore masks, but there were definitely more than 50 people. Everyone had a mask, and masks were provided in lobby along with hand sani. They did sing as a congregation, though, through their masks. We haven’t met a soul in this ward, and I can’t say I’m super jazzed about going for various reasons, perhaps primarily because (as Morrisey put it) every day is like Sunday. We don’t know anyone there. We don’t have kids attending with us any more. It just doesn’t feel like our ward, and I’m not sure it ever will. Plus, I just literally haven’t missed it at all. On the contrary.
@Dave B I have had the same thought about leadership roulette. I have friends in adjacent wards and stakes with doctors as SP / Bishop and they are handling very differently.
Relatedly, a woman I serve with in my ward who is extremely high risk (many, many health problems – cancer survivor, on the transplant list because her kidney function is super low, severe asthma and lung issues – probably the highest risk person I know) is a temple worker. Now that our temple is doing some live ordinances, she and her husband are back working in the temple. She is clearly really afraid of getting sick and told me so but doesn’t feel like she can say no.
It really bothers me that we have a culture where people don’t feel comfortable saying no to church assignments even if they feel like they are being put at risk (not healthy), and I think we also have a culture where people believe if they are doing church work they will somehow be protected (not true).
Dave B, When our Prime Minister congratulated Joe Biden, the virus was discussed. We beat it by working together as a community. It doesen’t look like America has that community spirit anymore. Sadly lots of places more Zion like than America at present. Hopefully enough people will get the vaccine for it to be effective.
Those that think Trump did a good job would not know there were countries that worked together and succeeded, would they? Would any Americans? I am amazed that the outrage is not about the loss of life, but having to sacrifice some of your personal freedom, to help your community.
Dave F, had forgotten the world wide fast. That went well didn’t it? Yet we are still told to just ask, and if we don’t recieve, it is our fault.
My Southern California ward began in-person meetings in September. Every other week with two sessions you could choose from. Zoom was available for those who didn’t want to attend. My husband and I have done neither. A big deal was made about how everything would be sanitized between each meeting. My thought was who would be doing the sanitizing and would it be done as efficiently as cleaning the church building in the past. In other words very badly. The question I would have asked was if the ventilation had been upgraded and serviced. Sanitizing does nothing when the virus is airborne. Quoting Ed Yong in The Atlantic “Sanitizing is nothing more than hygiene theater”. Masks were required and I believe they were having singing. Now as of 11/14 all in-person meetings have be cancelled. It took until July for anyone to put together a Zoom meeting. I was shocked that the Bishopric didn’t begin sending out a weekly message starting in March. I really think a great many people thought this would be over in May. I had told my husband to expect this to go on for 1 to 1 1/2 years so I was surprised to hear friends say they thought the virus would be over after a couple of months.
For the past 15 years or so I have attended church primarily as support for my husband plus we were raising our two children. Our children are grown and not interested in church. My husband has always felt marginalized for being a Democrat. We have both been very disappointed that RMN or other leaders have not specifically delivered a messaged with strong support for mask wearing and following public health guidelines. Just look at what’s happening in Utah! According to reports Utah Valley Hospital has had multiple people convinced the virus is a hoax. They have been trying to get in to the ICU ward with cameras to video how the beds are empty. Their proof was the lack of cars in the parking lot. Maybe a strongly worded talk to members instead of a fast might make a difference.
My husband has now said he just wants to slowly distance himself from church. I’m happy because I’ve wanted to do that for years. Not having to listen to a recycled conference talk and going for a hike instead sounds like a perfect Sunday. The last several years have all seemed really pointless to me. Very few people are actually listening or paying attention. Virtually everyone is on their phone passing the time til they go to the next meeting. We attended an Evensong service at Westminster while in London two years ago. It was the first time in years that I felt spiritually uplifted in a church setting.
I really think that once there’s a vaccine and virus transmission is contained there will be very few people who will want to return to church. My guess is maybe 1/3rd return maybe the other 1/3rd do home church and the rest will be like us. Moving on to something else.
”my ward had an activity rate below 30% and was already an albatross around our necks. I hope they make it easier to purge inactives from the rolls.”
– J. Highes
Maybe we could line them up and just shoot ’em?
TC, I think you are misinterpreting my comment. I was merely pointing out that many wards across the Church, including mine, have had high inactivity rates for a long time, and that the current administrative policies make it incredibly difficult to remove names from our roster. Because of arbitrary man-made rules from Church HQ, we (locally) are accountable for hundreds of people who want nothing to do with our organization. The pandemic will likely result in a much larger number of once-active members taking extended (or permanent) leaves of absence from Church activity. It’s not fair to saddle the few that remain with the burden of fellowshipping an exponentially growing number of “lost sheep”. I consider purging long-time inactives from the ward list to be an act of respect for the agency and self-determination of people who just want to be left alone; “line them up and just shoot ’em” is not a fair comparison.
Thanks for the comments, everyone.
Jack Hughes said, “When the pandemic passes, the Church at the local level most likely will never return to what it was before.” Very true. They might discontinue streaming of sacrament meeting and permission to do the sacrament in your home as an blunt incentive to get people to come back. Some will, some will just say forget it completely. If they keep streaming available, it will reduce in-person attendance, which runs against strong LDS tradition to get the butts in the seats.
Geoff-Aus, but wouldn’t you think Utah and Idaho, Mormon strongholds, would have more community spirit than elsewhere? Didn’t happen. Not at all.
Jack Hughes again: yes, expect a new Church-wide push to reactivate all the “Covid inactives” that will not be showing up to church once the dust settles. The Church is going to have to come up with a whole new package. Some will do two hours in-person. Some will do sacrament meeting in person, then scurry off. Some will be happy to participate online, and the Church will have to decide whether to support online participation and to what degree. I’m sure there’s a policy team at the COB mulling over these options. And I’m betting most of their good ideas will get shot down by senior leadership.
Thanks for the comments — and several were held up in our filter, which I just reviewed and posted. Such as:
series of tubes: that’s a post-vaccine world you are describing, but we might be there by mid-2021.
Plutarch, thanks for the very informative comment. It would be nice if GA-level leadership gave clear directives to Area and Stake leaders to NOT discourage safety measures and NOT put pressure on people to put themselves at risk. Remember the Peter Principle (which applies to priesthood like everything else): in an organization, people rise or are promoted up to their level of incompetence, where they then stay. F
Suzy, you and a thousand others have their individual stories and perspectives to share. I hope the New Church Plan (whatever modifications are put in place or left in place once this settles down) give people the flexibility they need to both feel safe (and be safe) as well as participate to the extent they can or want to. That sort of flexibility has just been tough to come by in the past, however. We’ve been a one-size fits all church, largely ignoring the cases where that model didn’t fit.
I’m in a Calgary Stake and protocols are fairly strong. Sacrament Meeting only, masks, no singing. My husband and I don’t attend – his health and our age. They recently added virtual meeting via YouTube and finally perfected the sound and visuals after a few rough weeks. I’m in no hurry to return. We’ve enjoyed starting Sundays with The Spoken Word and then added Dialogue SS and also now watch our ward SM at 1 pm. One thing about our stake is that boundary changes happened a few months before covid so we didn’t really have time to really gel as a ward. Our SIL is the bishop and a really great guy but I think some things could be improved upon – such as more touching base with members via email from both the bishopric and RS. We only seem to get notices about specific things or changes to protocols. We don’t do any virtual SS or RS – but I’m really ok with that for myself because I’ve been enjoying the break but I wonder about people who could possibly benefit from more contact? I see that the emphasis in our has been on the youth programs which I very much applaud. This is a hard time for all of us but I think it’s especially hard for our young people.
We started back with weekly sacrament meetings just as the second wave of the pandemic started in earnest. The governor lowered the indoor gathering limit to 10 people but we have invoked religious privilege to circumvent the law of the land.
It’s a shame that we’ve chosen to exercise our religious freedoms to undermine efforts to keep a pandemic under control, yet here we are.