It has been seven months since missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were sent home from their missions due to the worldwide pandemic.
In March, the church reported that more than 50% of missionaries worldwide had been affected by the moves. Later, the Missionary Training Centers were closed down and, while new missionaries were still being called, their MTC experience and training was being done from their homes.
On Wednesday, the LDS Church announced it would cautiously and slowly start sending missionaries back, according to Daniel Woodruff, church spokesman.
The statement released by the church says, “Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many missionaries have accepted reassignments to serve in their home countries due to challenges posed by the coronavirus. We are grateful for their faith and optimism in these extraordinary circumstances,” Woodruff said.
“At this time, the church has begun sending a very limited number of these missionaries to assignments outside their home countries. This process is deliberate and cautious,” the statement makes clear.
Because the pandemic is ongoing, all missionary travel is dependent on local conditions and air travel restrictions, according to Woodruff. Some missionaries may not depart for several months.
“We recognize conditions can change rapidly, and we will continue to closely monitor world events and make adjustments as needed,” Woodruff said. “The safety of our missionaries and those they serve is our top priority.”
Once scheduled for travel, mission offices will notify missionaries who will then share their itineraries with their families, according to the church information.
“We ask that missionaries and their families not contact the Church Travel Office, embassies, or consuls about their travel plans or documents,” Woodruff said. “When traveling, missionaries will be instructed to follow established public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Woodruff noted that after they arrive in their new assignments, missionaries will quarantine for the required period and then take part in activities appropriate to local circumstances.
The church has not said when it expects the MTCs to reopen for in-person training of newly called missionaries.