As we would expect at this point, the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made today further adjustments to the April 2020 General Conference.
In a previous letter, dated March 11, the First Presidency had announced:
We plan to conduct all five sessions of that conference at the Conference Center. General authorities, general officers and their spouses, musicians, choirs, technicians, and others will participate as assigned. But, proceedings of the conference will be distributed throughout the world via technology only. The public will not be admitted in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, or in stake centers or meetinghouses in areas where contagion is a concern.
With the worsening of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic (there are more than 240,000 cases in the world and more than 13,000 only in the US at the moment), even more restriction are being placed upon who will attend General Conference in person. Not even the musicians, the choirs, or the spouses of the speakers will participate, but
“only only those who have been invited to speak or pray will attend” and “each session will be broadcast from a small auditorium” and not from the Conference Center.
Past Cancelled Or Without The Public General Conferences
The last time a general conference went on without the public was because of the travel restrictions of World War II. In that occasion, the conference was held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square and only the leaders attended.
Other viral epidemics also affected general conferences in the past.
The first was the Spanish flu pandemic, when the leadership of the Church postponed the April 1919 general conference for two months and the second was in October 1957, when church leaders completely canceled general conference because of the Asian flu epidemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the third viral epidemic that has affected general conferences.
March 19 Letter From the Church Leadership
Below follows the full text of the letter from the The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we have seen the many changes around the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made adjustments to missionary service, temple work, and the ways in which we gather and worship.
Recent days have brought new guidelines from experts around the world. After counseling as the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, we have felt it wise to modify further the format of our April 2020 general conference.
Each session will be broadcast from a small auditorium on Temple Square. The First Presidency will preside and conduct those sessions, and only those who have been invited to speak or pray will attend. The music for the conference has been pre-recorded.
By making these adjustments, we feel we can assist those who are working to slow the spread and impact of this pandemic. We are grateful for them and continue to pray for them. We are touched by the many accounts we hear of ministering to those in need during these uncertain times. We pray for Heavenly Father’s choicest blessings upon you.
This will be a remarkable conference. Messages of truth, hope, and inspiration will prevail as we commemorate the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and seek to hear Him.
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles