Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged individuals to be vaccinated and once again use face masks in a letter Thursday.
Here’s a timeline of actions and statements from church leaders on wearing masks:
Jan. 29, 2020: The church donated supplies, including respirator masks, to China to help Chinese health care workers in their efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
March 4, 2020: Church leaders asked members worldwide to follow health recommendations of the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, specifically the recommendation to wear a face mask.
April 17, 2020: Latter-day Saint Charities, Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health joined forces in ProjectProtect, a public volunteer project to sew 5 million medical-grade masks to protect health care workers on the front lines of Utah’s pandemic response. Within 62 hours, they had 10,000 volunteers.
April 21, 2020: Utah volunteers picked up kits and began sewing the first 1 million ProjectProtect masks. Utah’s public, private and nonprofit universities and colleges also contributed to the project.
May 19, 2020: Latter-day Saints returned to Sunday worship services with the requirement that members sit in families and those preparing, blessing and passing the sacrament wear masks. Local leaders were encouraged to follow government guidelines and many congregations required or highly encouraged members to wear masks at weekly meetings.
June 23, 2020: About six weeks later, more than 57,000 volunteers produced nearly 6 million masks.
June 24, 2020: An interfaith group of 28 religious leaders, including Latter-day Saints, issued a joint appeal to people of faith to use face coverings.
“Please join us in continuing to take action to prevent the further spread of the pandemic by wearing masks in public and maintaining physical distancing,” the leaders said in a letter.
July 10, 2020: The church’s Utah Area Presidency asked all members to “please join with us now in common purpose for the blessing and benefit of all” by wearing face coverings when in public.
“We ask all Latter-day Saints in the Utah Area to be good citizens by wearing face coverings when in public,” a letter said. “Doing so will help promote the health and general welfare of all.”
Oct. 3-4, 2020: First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other general church leaders wore face coverings and maintained physical distancing during the broadcasts of the church’s October general conference.
Nov. 7, 2020: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve mentioned the wearing of masks when responded to a question from the Deseret News at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Red Cliffs Utah Temple in St. George.
“We’re very hopeful about getting back in the temples,” Elder Holland said. “We won’t put people at risk. We’re not going to do anything foolish, and we’re honoring very carefully the guidelines. We mask and we socially distance and we’re not having people in temples yet, but we’re into the second phase fully and we hope for a third soon that would allow more participation,” Elder Holland said, “but we’ll just have to be wise and medically and socially responsible, not rush that and put anyone at risk. We’re just going to have to be patient.”
Dec. 6, 2020: President Russell M. Nelson and other church leaders wore face coverings during a broadcast of the church’s annual Christmas devotional.
Dec. 7, 2020: Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles said that wearing a face covering during the pandemic is a “sign of Christlike love.”
“As it relates to this pandemic, especially in temples, that means social distancing, wearing a mask and not gathering in large groups,” Elder Renlund said. “These steps demonstrate our love for others, and provide us a measure of protection. Wearing a face covering is a sign of Christlike love for our brothers and sisters. COVID-19 is serious. Its consequences are not yet fully understood.”
April 3-4, 2021: First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other general church leaders wore face coverings and maintained physical distancing during the broadcasts of the church’s April general conference.
April 8, 2021: As infection rates dropped, the church’s Utah Area Presidency sent a letter to local leaders instructing them to follow area health guidelines and safety protocols, including masks and distancing.
“As infection rates in Utah continue to decrease and vaccinations significantly increase, we are getting closer to a time when we can return to our normal church meetings and activities,” the letter said.
Aug. 12, 2021: With another surge of COVID-19 cases and its variants emerging, the First Presidency urged individuals to be vaccinated and encouraged the renewed use of face masks in a letter Thursday.
“To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible,” the letter said. “We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders.”