The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, has announced the closure of all wards that serve its 16-million members worldwide. Nearly half of Mormons live in the United States and the LDS is the fourth-largest religious organization in the country. None will be meeting for worship this Sunday.
This includes all Mormon wards and congregation meeting places in Montana. There are approximately 50 thousand Mormons who reside in the Big Sky State in 13 “stakes” or districts, with 122 congregations (consisting of 84 wards, 38 branches, one mission and one temple).
The LDS made the announcement through the “First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” sending out the letter yesterday evening.
It reads, “As promised in our letter of March 11, 2020, we continue to monitor the changing conditions related to COVID-19 throughout the world. We have considered the counsel of local Church leaders, government officials and medical professionals, and have sought the Lord’s guidance in these matters. We now provide the following updated directions.”
They continue, “Beginning immediately, all public gatherings of Church members are being temporarily suspended worldwide until further notice. This includes:
- Stake conferences, leadership conferences and other large gatherings
- All public worship services, including sacrament meetings
- Branch, ward and stake activities”
The LDS are known for their “prepper” mentality and remain one of the most vigilant preparedness organizations in the world. The organization’s Relief Society instructs members to have a 72-hour food storage for short-term emergencies and a three-month food storage for longer-lasting emergencies. Many Mormon families have far more than that, and many ‘wards’ have canneries to assist in helping Mormons can their home produce. Additionally, the LDS have placed food depots at strategic points spread between wards to assist them in the case of a catastrophic food shortage.
Much of the Mormon emphasis on food storage comes from teachings inside their extrabiblical and pseudepigraphical religious text, Doctrine and Covenants.
“Doctrine and Covenants” Section 109:8 says, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing.” The Doctrine and Covenant’s student manual says in Section 38, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” Mormons typically take these admonitions literally. It is estimated that more than half of large emergency food suppliers in the United States are Mormon-owned.
The LDS is the first religious organization to cancel services worldwide.