SALT LAKE CITY — Images of Jesus Christ will become the dominant, standard feature of the foyers of Latter-day Saint meetinghouses, according to a letter sent Monday morning by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Many meetinghouses already feature prints of paintings focused on Christ, but Monday’s letter standardizes that approach as part of President Russell M. Nelson’s call in 2018 to emphasize that “Jesus Christ is at the center of His church.”

“We are grateful for your continued efforts to use the complete name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said Monday’s letter, signed by President Nelson and his counselors, Presidents Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring. “To further testify of our central belief in Jesus Christ, we desire that our meetinghouses reflect an attitude of reverence for the Savior.”

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Stake presidents, who oversee meetinghouses for multiple congregations, and facilities managers will assess the foyers of every meetinghouse to ensure that unobstructed, Christ-centered art is the dominant feature.

The assessments will follow five guidelines:

  1. Place existing artwork that depicts the Savior himself or the Savior ministering to others in meetinghouse entries and foyers. Examine existing artwork to ensure that it is appropriately framed, displayed and in good condition.
  2. Move other artwork to another location within the facility or remove it altogether.
  3. Choose replacement art, if needed, from the Approved Selection of Foyer Artwork (attached to the First Presidency letter) and follow approved sizes and quality standards.
  4. Assess entries and foyers as part of an annual inspection to evaluate existing furnishings, artwork and finishes. Replace and update these items as needed to maintain a feeling of reverence for the Savior.
  5. Remove from the foyer areas distractions, such as display cases, bulletin boards, tables, easels, and damaged furniture.

Meetinghouses are home to weekly Latter-day Saint Sabbath worship, which includes the sacrament. The sacrament consists of bread and water symbolizing the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is “the most universally received ordinance in the church” and “the most sacred hour of the week,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said last year.

“Everything that surrounds this rite, including the artwork people see as they enter the chapel, should contribute to what the Apostle called ‘an increasingly sacred acknowledgment of Christ’s majestic atoning gift to all humankind,’” according to a news release issued by the church.

On Thursday, a church representative prayed in the Rose Garden of the White House as part of the National Day of Prayer with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and representatives of a half dozen other faiths. Debbie Marriott Harrison, a member of the church’s Washington, D.C., public affairs advisory committee, called Christ “our healer and Redeemer.”

She also said, “We pray for those that mourn for lost loved ones and ask you to send thy Holy Spirit to comfort them and give them assurance that they can be reunited again through the power of our Savior Jesus Christ’s resurrection.”

Afterward, Harrison told the Deseret News she desired to be clear that the church worships Jesus Christ.

Here is today’s full First Presidency letter:

Reverence for the Savior in our meetinghouses

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are grateful for your continued efforts to use the complete name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To further testify of our central belief in Jesus Christ, we desire that our meetinghouses reflect an attitude of reverence for the Savior.

Therefore, placement of art representing Jesus Christ in meetinghouse foyers and entryways has been authorized. Local facilities managers will contact and work with stake presidents to evaluate foyers and make necessary modifications consistent with the attached guidelines.

Sincerely yours,

Russell M. Nelson

Dallin H. Oaks

Henry B. Eyring

The First Presidency