Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suspends church gatherings due to coronavirus pandemic

An illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of what a coronavirus looks like ( Photo Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention )

Officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Thursday that all gatherings of church members, worldwide, will be suspended until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

According to a statement posted on the church's website, all Stake conferences, leadership conferences, public worship services, and branch, ward, and stake activities will be affected.

"Bishops should counsel with their stake president to determine how to make the sacrament available to members at least once a month," reads a portion of the statement. "Where possible, please conduct any essential leadership meetings via technology. Specific questions may be referred to local priesthood leaders. Further direction related to other matters will be provided."

According to the church's website, there are over 16 million "church memberships" across the world.

This is the first time since a 1957 flu epidemic that the religion has taken the step of barring church members from attending in person. The move comes a day after the faith announced it would hold a major conference in early April without attendees.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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