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Church leaders join Utah politicians urging at-home Thanksgiving

Boyd Matheson, opinion editor for the Deseret News, President Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Craig C. Christensen, General Authority Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ, and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, clockwise from top left, hold an online meeting to discuss COVID-19 and Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.

SALT LAKE CITY – Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have joined politicians asking Utahns to stay home this Thanksgiving

In a conversation with KSL NewsRadio’s Boyd Matheson, Elder Craig C. Christensen, Utah Area President and General Authority Seventy, said he and his family were holding Thanksgiving at home and not traveling to relatives’ houses. 

“We view keeping our fellow men and women safe as part of our responsibility,” Elder Christensen said. “So we were the first to suspend and close temples. And we’ve been very careful on how we go forward. We’ve been pretty vocal on supporting the state and local municipalities on safe practices.”

“If you look at the real meaning of Thanksgiving, it’s to be grateful,” Elder Christensen said. “You don’t have to all be at a big meal and all together to be grateful.” 

Elder Christensen will still see his relatives this year, just virtually. 

“Our family is trying to connect that way, through technology, and really trying to get a new spirit of what Thanksgiving is all about,” Elder Christensen said.   

Relief Society President Jean Bingham, who also took part in the conversation with Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, believes women can play an important role. 

“Before Thanksgiving, we’ve been asked not to do much traveling, we’ve been asked to continue to wear masks, continue to physical distance. When women do that, others see that and they will follow through,” President Bingham said.   

President Bingham also believes it is an act of “Christ-like love” to protect the most vulnerable. 

Public health experts have linked social gatherings to a recent surge in positive COVID-19 test results because they argue people are not as cautious with mask-wearing and social distancing when they are around loved ones.

They also worry that asymptomatic people will spread COVID-19 to their family members, which could further strain hospitals.

Mayor Mendenhall praised church leaders for supporting at-home Thanksgiving. 

“In asking members to wear masks out of love for each other, out of respect for their health, and a desire for us to be able to come back together sooner by getting through this in a more rapid fashion, it is so important and meaningful,” Mendenhall said.

The conversation will air on KSL Newsradio on Monday at 11 a.m. on KSL’s “Inside Sources.”