Returning LDS missionaries to be released. They can go back when pandemic eases or wait for 12-18 months.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) In this Sunday, March 22, 2020, photo, missionaries returning from the Philippines exit the Salt Lake City International Airport.

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The LDS Church is releasing, due to the coronavirus, its returning U.S. and Canadian missionaries who were serving in international locations rather than expecting them to continue as missionaries while awaiting reassignment.

“The ability to reassign these missionaries — even on a temporary basis — has now become more limited by changing conditions,” top leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Tuesday evening in a letter to members. “This has created a measure of uncertainty for many missionaries and their families.”

The Utah-based faith is offering these young people two options: Decide by April’s end either to go back to their original or temporary assignment “as soon as conditions allow” or return to full-time proselytizing service within 12 to 18 months with a new end date.

Nearly 20,000 missionaries who are U.S. citizens were returning to the country, the church’s Utah Area president, Craig C. Christensen, said last week. Utah is home to about 12,000 of them.

Those newly called U.S. and Canadian missionaries who have begun their missionary training at home online can choose to be released after their training but reinstated to their original or temporary location when conditions allow or return to service within 12 to 18 months with a new end date.

Those missionaries who hail from outside the U.S. and Canada and are returning to their home countries will be given a new assignment to serve in their homeland as soon as conditions allow.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

All missionaries from countries outside the U.S. and Canada — who haven’t had to return to their home country, will continue with their same end date, the letter said. And all of these prospective international missionaries will be assigned to serve in their home countries until conditions change.

All returning missionaries must self-isolate for 14 days.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

For those who remain in the field, they are teaching with technology without leaving their apartments, the church has said. Missionaries in the U.S. and Canada, along with those in much of the world, have been instructed “not to go door to door or contact people on the street.”

Tuesday’s letter from the faith’s governing First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the leaders had prayerfully considered these options.

“We are confident that missionaries and prospective missionaries will seek the counsel of parents, priesthood leaders and the Lord as they consider their future missionary service,” the leaders concluded. “Please know of our deep love for missionaries and their families as we all continue to participate in this great work together.”