Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Bishopric and Ward Council have met to discuss our next steps as a ward, and we can now share with you the following guidance. Please take time to read through the various sections of this letter, which is shared with you in a spirit of love and fellowship.
Communication & ‘The Sociality Of The Saints’ (D&C 130:2)
Communication is key, especially weekly contact between saints and their ministers. Please understand that your ministering is vital to the coherence of the ward. Ministers are literally the key to a successful continuation of the church’s mission in Woodsetton. They are the shepherds and need to ‘know their sheep’.
As directed in General Conference (October 2019), members should turn in the first instance to their ministers for support and then to their organisational leaders for counselling on matters that do not require the ‘judge in Israel’, which is the Bishop.
We are aware that our ward records are not wholly up to date with email addresses or telephone numbers. If your details have changed recently, please report these to Bro. Harry Conlan directly so that the records can be updated.
We will use a combination of telephone calls, emails, and social media to provide news, articles and other services. The front runner of these will be our website, which is publicly viewable (no account needed) at: woodsettonward.blog
Ward members are ‘agents unto themselves’ (D&C 58:28) and accordingly can meet together socially, away from the meetinghouse or online, as they determine. Please do not feel that the organisation below are the only members you can contact.
The family is the central unit of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation. I strongly encourage you to:
- Set meaningful personal and family goals based on the ideals presented in ‘The Family: A Proclamation To The World’. I cannot emphasise enough the value of doing this.
- Teach & live the plan of salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Hold family councils, as repeatedly encouraged in General Conference. The weight of the burden of responsibility for the success of each family now rests firmly on the heads of the parents. Individuals in families need to celebrate each other’s successes, support one another in their goals, and give compassion and service to one another in their challenges.
- Make full use of ‘Come, Follow Me for Families and Individuals’. Each family is unique and will likely find their own most successful way of doing this through trial and evaluation.
- Hold family home evening.
- Melchizedek Priesthood holders are there to minister not only the sacrament but to give father’s blessings and other blessings as required. ‘Therefore, now let every man learn his duty and to act in the office in which he is appointed in all diligence.’ (D&C 107:99)
General notes on the administration of the Sacrament
- The health and safety of everyone is paramount. Before each occasion of inviting families round or visiting others, we should be candid about our own health and investigate theirs. There is no obligation to invite or visit families or individuals where symptoms are present.
- If someone is choosing to self-isolate without symptoms, then we do not need to press them to receive the sacrament.
- Those who are administering the sacrament should follow current health directions on washing and cleanliness before the ordinance (and after a visit). No vessels should be shared.
- The sacrament must be administered in person.
- Ideally the sacrament should be administered as part of Sabbath day observance, but this can be given exception where necessary.
- The church handbook of instructions contain directions for administering the sacrament:
Families are to decide for themselves the agenda supporting the ordinance of the Sacrament. There will be differing needs based on the age of family members, the number of people who may be visiting, or whether the ordinance is being conducted as a visit.
The Sacrament does not have to be accompanied with a full worship service. It may be that a family decides to follow the Sacrament with a discussion based on the Come Follow Me reading for the week, or sharing testimony, for example. In pondering this, the following guidelines are given to help.
- 2 Nephi 32:9 counsels us to pray always, that we should ‘not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.’ Therefore, the ordinance should be preceded by prayer.
- Within a normal sacrament meeting, the sacrament is placed so as to emphasise its centrality and importance. In itself, it is a reminder of the life and mission of the Saviour Jesus Christ, His role as our Redeemer and Mediator, and a renewal of our relationship with the Father through taking His Son’s name upon us. Nothing should detract from the sacred nature of the ordinance.
- Scripture readings, talks or discussions following the sacrament should focus on the Saviour for this reason. Elder Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has counselled the Bishops to never let a Sacrament meeting pass by where a testimony of Christ has not been shared in some way.
Members who are unsure what to do, or if they are ‘getting it right’ should counsel with their leaders who will refer the matter to myself if necessary.
As Bishop, I now authorise every worthy Priest and Melchizedek Priesthood holder to administer the sacrament for themselves and their household until further notice. Within the home this does not require two brethren.
For families with no worthy priesthood holder, brethren will be assigned to administer the sacrament to you. Some of you will be able to travel to the home of the Priesthood holder, others will need them to come to you. These assignments will be communicated to you later today by the Elder’s Quorum and Relief Society presidencies. Although the First Presidency has invited us to make the sacrament available to all ward members at least monthly, we must respect everyone’s right to self isolate.
Brethren, if you do not consider yourself worthy to administer the sacrament, contact me. The work is hastening and it is time to put these things in order.
Ministering has been restructured. These assignments will be communicated to you later today by the Elder’s Quorum and Relief Society presidencies.
Ministers will need to report weekly to their assigned organisation leader. In your report, please indicate:
- Those who received the sacrament.
- A brief general assessment, especially Come Follow Me, family prayer.
- Any arising needs, emotional, spiritual, or temporal and actions underway or assistance needed.
- Decisions to self-isolate.
If any Saints have a confirmed case of Covid-19, this needs to be reported urgently to a leader.
Classes & Meetings
As a ward council we are working to implement the following:
- Regular uplifting talks and articles published via the website and social media.
- Seminary has moved to being 100% online.
- Online Primary ‘classes’ for children to access at home. The Primary Presidency will release details shortly.
- Youth Sunday School and a ‘Youth Together’ (replacing individual YW & YM lessons) online discussion group. The Bishopric and YW Presidency will release details shortly.
- A potential online testimony meeting.
- Sunday School group online discussions on ‘Come Follow Me’ for Adults. Bro. Clifford Jones, acting Sunday School President, will release details shortly.s
- Insititute will change to a fully online system, details will come out via the Stake YSA reps.
- Youth Leaders are invited to begin looking at other ways that the youth can interact without meeting together for the ‘Children & Youth Programme’.
All members are encouraged to make use of the ‘Gospel Living App’ to support them in living the gospel daily. It provides help with setting goals, finding uplifting resources, and also has a church social media function.
Ministers will need to pay particular attention to be aware of members who do not have internet access and adjust the frequency and content of their ministering accordingly.
Please be aware that the Temples are now closed worldwide to ordinances for the dead until further notice. Living ordinance can still be performed there.
All members who have an online Banking facility can now make donations through logging in to the Church website. If you would like assistance to learn how to do this, contact your leaders and we’ll talk you through.
If you do not have online Banking, please continue to set aside your tithes and offerings until such time that we can collect them.
Interviews & Business
Bro. Harry Conlan will keep track of expiring temple recommends and upcoming YSA and Youth Interviews.
Any ward business to be conducted will be sent out by message accompanied with a closing date for opposing votes. Successfully conducted business will be then be announced.
All use of the meetinghouse to be requested by approaching the WBR, Bro. Isaac Batt, or the Bishop in the first instance. It is important that we are aware of when the building will be unlocked or used.
Brothers and Sisters, the situation in our area with Covid-19 is liable to change rapidly under government guidance. We are hopeful that the adjustments made above will enable us to continue to carry the work of the Lord forward. Remember that although our regular meetings have been suspended, the work has not been. There are opportunities here to love & serve one another and a wider community.
“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”Joseph Smith, Jnr
The Saviour said ‘As I have loved you, love one another. By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’ Let us follow His injunction, walk by faith, exercise hope and go forward knowing that He has prepared us for times such as these.
I hope to meet with you all soon, but will be in touch over the coming days.