CHESTER — Like many churches across the nation, the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not holding its normal Sunday worship services at the church building in Chester. However, services are still going on at home.
All church services and weekly meetings have been put on hold due the coronavirus restrictions. The First Presidency of the Church, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, which oversees operations of the world-wide Church programs, and its 16 million members, instituted there would be no formal gatherings anywhere in the world as of Thursday, March 12.
In place of the Sunday meetings, the Latter-day Saints will continue applying their weekly “Come Follow Me” family home scripture study program that was instituted world-wide Jan. 1, 2019. LDS Kent Island Branch President (congregational minister) Ben Coddle, of Easton said, “The Come Follow Me program provides for all individuals to study the gospel of Jesus Christ in a synchronized format. The lessons, which are scripture based, are taught at home and re-enforced at church in Sunday school classes of all ages. I believe this program was divinely inspired to allow families to lead a Christ-centered life supported by our church.
He added, “In 2019, when the program was introduced, we had no idea how instrumental this program would become since we are currently unable to meet together as a congregation. Personally, I love how each member is able to expand their understanding of Jesus Christ on their own level as we read scriptures and discuss the Come Follow Me lessons.”
In 2019, using Come Follow Me, the church members read all of the New Testament. In 2020, the same program of weekly study was to read the entire “Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” LDS believe the Bible and Book of Mormon work together and compliment each other in baring testimony of the life and mission of Jesus Christ.
Each year, a different unit of scripture is studied. Next year, the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History will be studied, and in 2022, the Old Testament of the Bible will be read.
All “worthy” male members of the Church are encouraged to become qualified and, once qualified, are ordained to hold the Priesthood in the Church. With that Priesthood they have the authority to preach, baptize and perform other sacred ordinances, and receive Callings of service. No one has a paid ministry within the Church.
Having the Priesthood, males can conduct Sacrament/Communion at home with their families, if circumstances, such as the current coronavirus, require. The Come Follow Me manual is the blue print for having “a Christ centered home,” where a family meets together during the week to study the assigned weekly scriptures.
The virus has not broken that pattern of family life in LDS homes. Family Home Evening (FHE) has been a program within the LDS Church for more than 70 years, designating one evening per week for the entire family to be together, discussing family plans, eating together and sharing a gospel message within a family counseling session.
Individuals and families are to continue to use the Come Follow Me program, as well as videos, recorded music and church technology to help continue learning and living gospel teachings.
For more detailed information about the LDS Church, or to see the Come Follow Me manual, go online at lds.org, where all information about the Church is freely available to the public.
Doug Bishop is a convert and been an active member of the LDS Church for the past 41 years. He has covered many other church activities in the Kent Island area for nearly 20 years since moving here from Southern Maryland, where he grew up. He is known by most of the local clergy of other Christian denominations in the Kent Island area and enjoys their fellowship.