President Russell Nelson calls on Latter-day Saints, other believers to fast and pray for relief from coronavirus

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) President Russell M. Nelson speaks at a news conference last April.

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In his second video addressing the coronavirus crisis, LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson on Thursday invited members and friends of other faiths around the world to join him in fasting and prayer this Sunday for healing.

The man, considered a “prophet, seer and revelator” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced the global effort “to pray for relief from the physical, emotional and economic effects of this global pandemic.”

Nelson’s first video message about COVID-19 to the faithful was about hope in the midst of the outbreak. It was posted two weeks ago, just after the Utah-based church said it was temporarily suspending weekly worship services worldwide. Nelson’s words went viral, attracting more than 2 million views.

In his latest video, the 95-year-old church president, appearing healthy and vibrant, called on the faith’s 16.3 million members to fast and pray for the world during this pandemic.

“As a physician and surgeon, I have great admiration for medical professionals, scientists, and all who are working around the clock to curb the spread of COVID-19,” said Nelson, who 65 years ago performed Utah’s first open-heart operation. “I am also a man of faith, and I know that during these challenging times, we can be strengthened and lifted as we call upon God and his son Jesus Christ, the master healer.”

He also asked friends of other faiths to join Latter-day Saints in this worldwide effort “to pray for physical, spiritual and other healing.”

God understands human suffering and loves all humanity, Nelson concluded, “as I do, too.”

Nelson and other church leaders moved the global religion toward a “home-centered, church-supported” model when they previously reduced the Sunday meeting schedule from three hours to two and introduced a member-ministering program.

“Temporary changes in our normal routine may allow additional time to experience how precious home-centered gospel study can be,” Nelson said in his first video, urging members to use recently released videos about the faith’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, and other technology to advance their spiritual understanding.