On July 20, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that a small number of temples would move to the second of four phases as part of the reopening plan for the church’s 168 temples worldwide.
As of July 27, 12 temples have moved to Phase 2, which means all temple ordinances can be performed for living individuals.
It’s the latest of several temporary but significant adjustments that the global church, with more than 16.5 million members, has made on multiple continents to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Last March, the church closed temples, suspended Sunday worship services and held a general conference without a live audience that was viewed remotely. A significant number of missionaries returned home for self-isolation, some with the option of returning to fulfill their service at a later date.
During its general conference the weekend of April 4-5, President Russell M. Nelson called for a second worldwide fast on Good Friday to control the pandemic, protect caregivers, strengthen the economy and normalize life. One week later, President Nelson used social media to “express deep gratitude” for those who took part in the global fasts.
On April 13, the church announced that all For Strength of Youth conferences in the U.S. and Canada would be postponed until 2021.
The same day, the church announced a partnership with Latter-day Saint Charities, Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health to organize an army of 50,000 volunteers to make 5 million masks to protect health care workers. The news came after the First Presidency approved humanitarian projects in 57 countries to battle COVID-19.
The church also released letters with new pandemic-related guidelines for leaders and members on how to administer ordinances and officiate events like weddings, funerals and baby blessings, among other things.
Latter-day Saint youth camps have been closed indefinitely and other activities have been canceled or postponed. The final Hill Cumorah Pageant has been pushed back to 2021. The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, which released a new logo, has postponed its summer tour until next year as well.
By the end of April, some missionaries were beginning to receive reassignments.
On May 19 — about two months after meetings were canceled worldwide — the First Presidency announced a two-phased plan for returning to church, based on local government guidelines.
“We now authorize some meetings and activities to be resumed on a limited basis using a careful, phased approach,” the First Presidency wrote in a letter sent to local leaders and congregations.
Meanwhile, church employees have shifted from making sacred temple clothing to sewing thousands of gowns and masks to help address COVID-19 needs.
Deseret Industries stores reopened during the first week of June but with reduced hours and donations by appointment.
On June 4, the church announced that the October 2020 general conference will be a virtual-only event with no live audience in attendance.
Because of concern for COVID-19, the church postponed the Washington D.C. Temple open house and dedication originally set for the end of the year.
On June 24, Latter-day Saint leaders joined with other faiths and religions in a video calling for people to wear masks. Two weeks later, the Utah Area Presidency sent a request to all members in the state to wear face coverings when in public.
During the pandemic, with millions unemployed and filing jobless claims, the church has distributed hundreds of thousands of pounds of food each week to charitable organizations to help feed the needy, making it the biggest humanitarian project in church history. The church has also been engaged in more than 630 humanitarian aid projects in over 130 countries worldwide.
Here’s all our coverage of the church’s response to coronavirus.