How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

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Minyan Man
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How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by Minyan Man » 18 May 2020, 20:45

As the US seems to be coming out of the "lock down", I'm wondering how church meetings will be changing. Or, maybe they will remain
the same as usual. Has anyone heard of a planned changes in you Ward or Stake?

Some changes that may occur are:
. Smaller Sacrament meetings.
- Smaller Ward sizes.
- (this is silly, I know.) Sneeze guards on the sacrament table.
- Plastic barriers between pews & families.
- more virtual meetings.
- more wearing of masks.

Somewhere in our Wards, Stakes or SLC there has to be a "think tank" making the big decisions.
I personally can't see us going back be to the normal routine.

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DarkJedi
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Re: How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by DarkJedi » 19 May 2020, 05:22

I have not heard of any planned changes yet but I'm also more out of the loop than I used to be.
I think we will see people wearing masks in the beginning. The church has a thing about masks (refer to Halloween party policies), so maybe that's part of why we aren't meeting yet. On the other hand, none of the three churches in walking distance of my house (Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist) are meeting yet either.
More virtual meetings are pretty certain (and welcome) IMO.
I think smaller wards will be hard in the Corridor because buildings there already tend to be overcrowded and used all day on Sunday as it is. If they reduced meetings to one hour (or less) it may be feasible. I'd be OK with sacrament being live and shorter and other meetings being virtual (and completely optional). The Next Mormons study discovered that across the board (all age groups, Boomers on down) would have gone for 45 minute SM.
I don't see sneeze guards at the sacrament table, but I do think sacrament needs to be addressed. In most places I think the people blessing are good about washing hands and/or using hand sanitizer, but I don't think that's enough. Perhaps gloves are in order for breaking the bread but that still doesn't address the other people touching and/or breathing on the tray, touching other pieces of bread or water cups, etc. I know Catholics have gone from placing the wafer on the tongue to placing it in the hands, which some people did anyway. I don't know that something like that works for us with the way we do it.
Plastic barriers between pews would be interesting. I don't see that happening but if it did I see the boisterous toddlers who sit in the row in front me banging on it for the full hour. I could see asking families to separate themselves from other families/individuals, but again there's a space problem unless we routinely start using gyms. In my own ward it would work because we're a small ward in the stake center and we have lots of old people and few children, but it would be challenging in most buildings/wards.
I don't know this for sure, but I do think there is such a think tank which may include the Q15. I honestly think the church has done better than most governments in their response. Our SP, who again professes no inside info, does not expect meetings to resume in June and has already scheduled a virtual stake priesthood meeting in June.
Interestingly my more orthodox and very dedicated wife did say the other day when we were discussing this very topic that she might not be excited to return if it's soon because she is concerned about exposure and she's concerned about the old people in the ward who will almost certainly be there.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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desertghost93
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Re: How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by desertghost93 » 19 May 2020, 10:33

Apparently the church is now going to allow Sacrament meetings for up to 99 people where jurisdictions permit. Also in the letter was advice on how to keep things clean such as preparing the sacrament. While I think it's good the church is trying to do this by getting back to normal in a sense. I have little faith my local ward/stake will apply this correctly.


I don't mean to come off as a whiner but I have my concerns. I just have a feeling this will be botched big time in my area.

Also how are they going to decide who goes one week or the next? Someone actually mentioned perhaps those who don't have a Priesthood holder in their homes should get priority.
You can’t base your knowledge of a church off-broadway plays and the media, or even comments from church members because there are millions of them and they are all different and have different opinions, just like everybody else in this world.

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nibbler
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Re: How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by nibbler » 19 May 2020, 10:51

The guidelines desertghost93 refers to:

https://www.scribd.com/document/4621540 ... from_embed
It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

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DarkJedi
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Re: How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by DarkJedi » 19 May 2020, 11:11

The Church News article about the letter/reopening referred to by desertghost can be found here:

https://www.thechurchnews.com/global/20 ... ncy-184416

The letter and attachment itself are here: https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.or ... s-2020.pdf

Referring back to MM's original post, I do find some things to be of note:
Tuesday’s letter notes that Area Presidencies will work with their assigned members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Presidency of the Seventy in deciding when and where meetings can begin in their respective area.
Using caution and adhering to local regulations, the Area Presidencies will then inform stake and ward leaders when to allow public Church gatherings of their respective units by utilizing a graduated “phase” system described in an enclosure included in Tuesday’s letter.
Clearly places like New Zealand, where the disease is well under control, could resume relatively soon while NYC will likely have to wait (weeks or months).
The process to safely resume Church meetings and activities may be adjusted by Area Presidencies, as conditions require. Meanwhile, each stake president will determine the specific timing for resuming ward and stake meetings and activities, acting within guidelines provided by their Area Presidency and in counsel with bishops.
I suppose some local leaders could get antsy and want to push to reopen sooner than might be otherwise prudent. I hope that does not happen where I live.
Use an abundance of caution in protecting the health and safety of members. Pay particular attention to members whose health or age puts them at high risk.
This seriously includes about half my ward.
Advise individuals who do not feel well, or who have been asked to self-quarantine, or who exhibit any of the following symptoms that they should not attend meetings: fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, runny nose or sore throat.
Good advice, but those who didn't do it before might not be inclined to do it now.
Return slowly to regular practices for in-person gatherings, giving priority to meetings where ordinances are performed, such as baptisms and sacrament meetings. Continue to utilize technology to function remotely, when appropriate.
I like that the idea of continued use of technology is included. Travel time is an issue in my area. I also think meetings tend to be shorter online vs. in person.
Phase 1 for Sabbath-day meetings will feature shortened meetings at the meetinghouse with up to 99 individuals, following local government regulations.
Shortened meetings sound good. Perhaps just the sacrament? Or one short talk after the sacrament? (I'm thinking 10 minutes or less for the talk.)
When more members desire to attend than guidelines allow, leaders may hold multiple meetings during the day or invite members to attend on alternate weeks.
I'd be OK with alternating week church. My ward probably isn't going to have this issue, our weekly attendance averages less 90 as it is.
When more than one ward or branch attends in one meetinghouse, stake presidents should temporarily adjust meeting times to avoid overlapping schedules.
Not applicable to my ward, but good point. However, this guidance is found under the more than 100 people section. I think this could be a challenge for buildings with 3 or more wards (unless they're only doing shorter sacrament meetings - like 30 minutes).
Primary: During Phases 1 and 2, leaders may determine whether to have nursery and some younger Primary classes. They may also determine whether to hold both singing time and classes.
I honestly don't see how this fits with a shortened meeting scenario
Priesthood holders who do not feel well should remain at home.
Where available, priesthood holders may wear face masks while preparing, blessing and passing the sacrament.
Before preparing, blessing or passing the sacrament, priesthood holders should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If hand washing is not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. They should then avoid shaking hands or touching their eyes, nose, or mouth before preparing, blessing or passing the sacrament.
All should cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue. They should then throw the tissue in the trash and wash or sanitize their hands. Surfaces on sacrament trays, including handles, should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
OK. Except for the masks, I think this should be standard practice anyway. And I'm glad wearing a mask is suggested/authorized.
Bishops may consider adjustments in passing the sacrament.
For example, they might ask members to sit in every other bench or have chairs spaced so that priesthood holders can offer the trays to all members, rather than having individuals pass trays down the row.
Again, the every other bench thing would probably work in my ward and it makes some sense. The passer could go down the empty row thus eliminating everyone passing the tray. It doesn't address others touching pieces of bread or water cups or breathing on the trays, but it is better. Every other row might squeeze some people in more than I'd like. (In the picture in the article, second picture down with the speaker and very small audience, my wife and I sit where the lady in yellow and the kid touching his mask are seated).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Re: How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by Roy » 19 May 2020, 11:30

One church that I visited had the sacrament in these little pre-packaged containers. It had a separate compartment for the water and the grape juice.
I imagine that might help.
Another potential solution would be for the families to bring their own bread and water and keep it with their families. The prayer is not limited by distance and could still be read at the sacrament table.
DarkJedi wrote:
19 May 2020, 05:22
I think smaller wards will be hard in the Corridor because buildings there already tend to be overcrowded and used all day on Sunday as it is. If they reduced meetings to one hour (or less) it may be feasible.
Just a thought, maybe some wards could temporarily meet on Saturdays. I remember a GA acknowledging that there is not any good record of the day of worship being changed from Saturday to Sunday (in the early Christian era) but the important thing is that we set a date to worship and honor God. Theoretically, some wards could be assigned Saturday.
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nibbler
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Re: How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by nibbler » 19 May 2020, 16:56

I skimmed the guidelines and came away with some of the exact same comments and concerns as DJ.

Places like NYC? If safety is a real concern, opening church before the end of the year would probably be optimistic. But I say that and the comments that follow as someone in a location still experiencing more and more new cases each day, not less.

I didn't really see anything in the new guidelines that represented a significant enough departure from the way we normally do church, the altered practices still view sacrament as something essential, still view the sacrament as an ordinance where someone touches something that the rest of the congregation will ingest, still view the sacrament as an ordinance where someone comes along with a tray.

If you absolutely must do the sacrament, why not something radically different like roy suggests? Families show up with their own stuff, a prayer is uttered, good to go. But maybe the physical breaking of the bread is a part of the ordinance... but it's not like we haven't changed ordinances for convenience/necessity's sake in the past.

Telling kids to wash their hands. Telling sick people to stay home. That's great. We did that before and people didn't follow that council. I think a significant enough percentage of people won't follow that council after reopening. It doesn't have to be malicious, it will be someone being lax. No judging, being lax happens to all of us.

Allowing people to wear masks? How about requiring mask use. The percentage of people opting to wear a masks at church may not be high enough to make a difference... unless required.

Local government regulations take precedence over anything a church official might say, then it's in the hands of the church leadership hierarchy, all the way down to bishop. Some areas are going to have people in the leadership chain that are coronavirus conspiracy theorists. Some areas are going to have people in the leadership chain that showed up at the governor's house with assault rifles. Some areas are going to have people in the leadership chain that are overly cautious to the point where the virus has to be eradicated from all four corners of the globe before opening back up. People have their biases, you can tell I have mine, but goofing by reopening too late has fewer consequences that goofing by reopening too early.

It is what it is. If I can help it, I won't be going back any time soon (rest of the year at minimum). The church's plan is a start, doesn't instill much confidence in me personally, but it's a start.

The thing about closed church? It erased all obligations and expectations. The thing about open church? I may want to stay home to keep my family safe but all it takes is one person in my home feeling obligated to be there. I could put my foot down, tell someone they can't go, and create turmoil in the home. Rather than do that, I'd let them go and if they attend I might as well go myself, cut out the middleman.

But that's me. I don't see church as essential, in fact I see it as one of the more dangerous vectors for the virus to spread... a place people feel obligated to go (whether by faith or responsibility), an enclosed place with recycled air, most chapels don't even have windows that let in external light, ordinances and practices that require lots of contact and passing things to one another, etc.

It's easy when things are closed. No arguments. No obligations. When things open everyone will have to exercise some agency.
It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

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nibbler
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Re: How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by nibbler » 19 May 2020, 17:16

High COVID-19 Attack Rate Among Attendees at Events at a Church — Arkansas, March 2020
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6920e2.htm

Anecdotal, but not unexpected.
It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

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DarkJedi
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Re: How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by DarkJedi » 19 May 2020, 17:59

As I've had time to digest some of these guidelines and ponder them a bit I find them quite vague/nondescript. I hope when implementation actually comes there is more clear and defined guidance - but I'm at the same time pessimisticly doubtful.

DW and I had a brief discussion while on our evening walk. She actually had a couple good suggestions. Why don't the people blessing just wear gloves? She's not sure they normally do or would properly wash. Her other thought was why not put the bread in cups like the water? It would take longer but it would be less apt to be touched by someone else. That said, I too like Roy's suggestion.

I've seen that discussion about whether breaking the bread is part of the ordinance. I think it's a matter of interpretation. When I do it at home I bring our two small pieces of bread to the table already broken.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

desertghost93
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Joined: 15 Sep 2019, 11:00

Re: How will the Church change in light of the Covid Virus?

Post by desertghost93 » 19 May 2020, 18:22

Requiring masks would be difficult because there are some of us that can't wear a mask. I know for myself I have been told wearing a mask can put me in greater danger due to my underlying asthma. I also would like to echo nibblers thoughts on Deacons/Priests following proper hygiene practices. It scares the daylights out of me knowing people's health is possibly in their hands at this time. I still can't count how many times I have seen a priest wipe his face or pick his noise before preparing the sacrament or passing the sacrament. I do think we have managed fine with stay at home church during these times. If it were up to me I would just extend that till end of Summer. (Sept 31) just to be safe.

Ward buildings are notorious for sometimes not being very clean or at least when they are cleaned it's half-donkeyed
You can’t base your knowledge of a church off-broadway plays and the media, or even comments from church members because there are millions of them and they are all different and have different opinions, just like everybody else in this world.

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