When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are allowed to return to their chapels for church services, they will notice a change to the foyers and other areas of the building.
In a letter released Monday by the First Presidency — the church’s top leadership body, consisting of President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring — they asked local leaders to ensure that the aesthetic feel in the foyers and entryways reflect an even deeper reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ.
This move supports Nelson’s call over the past 18 months to emphasize that “Jesus Christ is at the center of His church,” the letter said.
To that end, local leaders and facilities managers are to work as a team to assess the placement and unobstructed display of Christ-focused art in the foyers and main entries of each meetinghouse worldwide, the letter said.
Leaders can continue to choose from a selection of art that features the savior of the world provided by the church.
A document accompanying the letter includes the following five guidelines for a better savior-focused experience for those entering a meetinghouse:
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.
Display cases have been a part of church foyers for decades and give information on meeting times and activities that may have occurred or display the names and photos of full-time missionaries serving from the congregation.
“In the Church’s temples, every furnishing adds to an atmosphere of peace, worship and reverence for Jesus Christ,” the letter said. “The same principle applies to the Church’s meetinghouses. It is in chapels that Latter-day Saints partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper — bread and water that symbolize the body and blood of Jesus.”
This 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 Holland called “an increasingly sacred acknowledgment of Christ’s majestic atoning gift to all humankind,” the letter said.