The Church has a lot of control in our lives. It tells us what to eat (mostly what not to eat), what to wear (White shirts for men, “modest” dress for women), what ward to attend, even if you live closer to another ward/building, what time to go to church, who to associate with, what assignment (referred to as a calling in Mormon speak) one is going to do in the ward. There are lots more, but you get the drift.
The COVID pandemic has taken away some of this control. For most members, they can have their church service anytime they want, can dress how they want. Probably over 50% of the callings have nothing to do (think teachers which make up a lot of the callings in any ward).
This loss of control by the church and it leaders was brought to my mind during a phone call yesterday morning with my daughter. She is a Relief Society President in the greater Phoenix area, and as I was talking to her she was getting dressed for a Regional Council Meeting. My wife asked if that was an in-person meeting, and she said no, it was a Zoom meeting, but they want everybody to dress in their “Sunday Best”. She explained Elder Ballard would be presiding, and there would be about 400 people on the Zoom meeting. So I then I told her she could just turn off her camera and not get dressed up! She then said that they are required to have their camera on for the meeting, that there was very strict rules for joining the meeting. They (leaders) are trying to get some of this control back!
But it gets worse. A friend of mine on Facebook told about a Bishop in Cheyenne Wyoming who was really feeling the loss of control. About four weeks ago he told his ward that sacrament at home would no longer be allowed and if members wanted the sacrament, they would have to come to church. He also re-started the two hours block including primary. A week later, 64 ward members tested positive and the numbers keep going up.
Do you think the Church at the local or general level in concerned about this loss of control, and possibly never getting it back after this pandemic is over? What examples in your area have you seen with leaders trying reinstitute control over the members that was lost due to the pandemic?