SALT LAKE CITY — The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a letter Wednesday to members of the church worldwide announcing significant changes to the Saturday and Sunday, April 4-5, General Conference due to the global spread of COVID-19.

General Conference

All five sessions of the conference will not be open for public attendance at the Conference Center. General authorities, general officers and their spouses, musicians, choirs, technicians and others will participate as assigned, the letter said.

“Proceedings of the conference will be distributed throughout the world via technology only,” the letter said. “The public will not be admitted in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, or in stake centers or meetinghouse in areas where contagion is concerned.”

The letter continues, “We are deeply concerned about the global spreading of illness caused by COVID-19. We have counseled with worldwide governmental, ecclesiastical, and medical leaders and have prayerfully considered the current circumstances.”

Missionary training

In a second letter from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles it was announced that beginning March 16, all missionaries scheduled to enter missionary training centers in Provo or Preston, England, will be trained remotely by video conference.

“Other missionary training centers will continue to function as usual, but they will not receive any missionaries from regions where government officials are restricting activity. Missionaries from those areas will also be trained by video conference,” the letter said.

The letter says leaders believe this temporary virtual training program will help to prepare missionaries for the field while minimizing risks related to communicable disease.

“Each missionary will receive specific information regarding the length of training, schedules, and other logistics as his or her starting date approaches,” the second letter says. “Once missionaries complete their online training, they will travel directly to their mission assignments.

Stake conferences

The church will postpone stake and leadership conferences and other large gatherings in church areas where illness caused by COVID-19 is a challenge, including:

Asia, Asia North, Europe, Europe East and all areas in the United States and Canada.

These temporary adjustments took effect March 16. Large gatherings in other areas of the world may continue as usual unless directed otherwise by Area Presidencies, who counsel with their leaders, church information states.

In relation to weekly worship services, activities and other meetings, members should follow the guidance of their local leaders, who will receive direction in the usual manner, the church’s letter stated.

The church says that they will provide further guidance on this topic, as the constantly changing situation develops.

“We live in a remarkable age,” the letter states. “The Lord has blessed us with the technology and capacity to participate in and receive messages from church leaders in all parts of the world. This special conference will commemorate the bicentennial of the First Vision and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days.”