Re-opening of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Caribbean


The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the temporary closure of many churches, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world - Sunday, March 8, 2020 was the last Sunday. International church leaders have given the go-ahead for churches to begin to re-open while following the pandemic guidelines as stipulated by their individual governments.

Some Caribbean nations began to have a shortened church service of one hour or thirty minutes, instead of the usual two hours, on Sunday, July 26, 2020.  These shortened church services are being held in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, Aruba and Curacao, Cayman, Turks and Cacos, St. Martin, St Vincent, St Lucia, Grenada and Bonaire. Churches in the Bahamas, Guadeloupe and Suriname are not open due to government lockdowns and/ or rising Covid-19 pandemic cases.

Elder Kevin Brown, an Area Seventy, said “ one of the churches priorities,  as said in Article of Faith 12 is: ‘We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honouring, and sustaining the law’. We take our responsibility of being global citizens very seriously and we want to make sure that we are in compliance with government restrictions, but also we want to keep people safe, we want to be part of the solution not part of the problem, and so carefully we are seeking to re-open in this way to ensure that we are protecting our membership and we are following the instructions given to us by government and health officials… We want to ensure that as we open, we are not going to contribute to the spread of the virus” not only to our members, but to all of God’s children.

Some members of the Church shared their feeling about the re-opening of Church. Amba Brown, from the Spanish Town Ward in Jamaica said, “The re-opening of church was great…I appreciated the measures taken to maintain social distancing and sanitize the building.” Other members in Jamaica expressed how they enjoyed the sweet spirit of returning to church, even though the service had been shortened.

Johanna Buckley-Muller, from Aruba, said, “As church pianist, it feels very good to be in the church playing the hymns, meeting my sisters and brothers and be able to partake of the Sacrament together. However I would like to emphasize that one of the main aspects of returning to church for the Sacrament meeting is the safety measures that are taken. Everyone claims that they feel the safety and that makes it easier to feel the Spirit during the meeting.”

Kathie Daniel shared her feelings as she said “My jubilation at the official re-opening of the Church in Barbados was tempered with caution: I am particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus because I have asthma and hypertension, both controlled, but this plague doesn’t seem to care about that. But after some prayers for guidance, I decided to attend. I am impressed by the care and attention to protocols by our branch presidency, and I am thoroughly enjoying in-person fellowship. We should thoughtfully pray for guidance when faced with a difficult decision. The Spirit will always guide us in the right direction.”

Jeffery Elliot from Aruba expressed that he was excited about the re-opening of church, being able to see his brothers and sisters, and for the opportunity to take the sacrament and renew his covenants. Another member of the Church from Aruba said “My reaction, as a member and an epidemiologist: It’s too soon. We are all opening our borders for tourism, and with that comes the increasing imported cases and risk of community transmission. I am advocating that for those who have the priesthood in their home, that they continue to meet in their homes. While for those who do not, we arrange to have them take the sacrament at least once per month through socially distant home visits while still heavily focusing on ministering through electronic means.”

Andrew Lue, President of the Kingston Jamaica Stake, a geographical area with several branches located in and around the Kingston area, said,” I am happy that we are finally able to fellowship again in our chapels. It will help our local leaders to more effectively minister to the general membership. Also, gathering is an important part of our worship, and as we fellowship with each other we are strengthened and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives more fully.”

Elder Brown, also said,  “All in all, the return to church renews for many, the sacred nature of the ordinance of the sacrament, helps us to appreciate the fellowship that we can have with each other and helps us to find new ways to worship, to deepen our worship and appreciate the simple things. We are also cognizant of the fact that under the direction of our leaders, we have been invited to make our homes the centre of worship. We have found that with the use of technology we have found worshipping in our homes to be very, very sacred and wonderful experience.”