Leaders of wards and stakes for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are deciding if they will keep Zoom meetings or get rid of them all together as COVID-19 transmission slows and restrictions loosen.
The worry for many bishoprics and stake presidencies now is whether or not people in their congregations will attend in person if given the opportunity.
“We just don’t know how many people are going to come and participate once everything goes back to normal,” said Bishop Hiram Alba of Salt Lake Married Student 14th Ward.
Alba said they will take Zoom church opportunities into consideration for those who may have disabilities, but beyond that, they will move their meetings to be in person.
“We will keep those with disabilities in mind as we move forward, but ultimately we want our congregation to meet in person once the pandemic stops,” Alba said.
In order to ensure a safe and comfortable return back to all in-person meetings, some bishoprics have enlisted the help and feedback of their congregations.
“We have sent out surveys for those in our ward to inform the bishopric if they have been vaccinated, how comfortable they feel starting to do in-person meetings, just so we can get a gauge on how everyone is feeling,” Alba said.
While also juggling the demands of their congregations, bishops must take into account guidance from the area and stake presidents.
“When a new policy comes out from the area presidency, the stake has usually provided a plan for implementation to try and have consistency within the stake, but a lot has been left up to the wards, especially early in the pandemic,” said Bishop Scott Davis of the Valley View 3rd Ward.
Davis said he sees potential problems with keeping a live stream option for everyone in their congregation after the pandemic ends.
“There’s a fine line. I wouldn’t want members who are physically able to attend to stay home just for the convenience and miss out on the blessings of physically gathering together,” Davis said.