The following is excerpted from The Salt Lake Tribune. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.

Latter-day Saints may preach and sing about following their prophet, but last week’s statement by the faith’s top leaders urging members to wear masks and get vaccinated offered a glimpse of how seriously the faithful take that mantra.

In its strongest statement yet, the governing First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked members to take these measures to “limit the spread” of COVID-19 and its variants. They assured believers that the available vaccines are “safe and effective.”

President Russell M. Nelson, a former heart surgeon, and his two counselors advised members to “follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders.”

Though the presidency statement didn’t require that it be read aloud over the pulpit on Sunday, many Latter-day Saint bishops and stake (regional) presidents across the country and around the world did so. And many members have said on social media that the directions from their local lay leaders as well as congregational behavior shifted almost immediately.

The effect was “a pronounced, obvious change,” said Tim May of Vancouver, Wash. “Last week, we had one to two families masked. This week, every family but one was masked.”

The First Presidency’s Thursday message was read aloud, May said, along with “an aligned message from our stake president, a surgeon.”

Other members received emails from their leaders after Thursday’s announcement and before Sunday’s services.

“In response to this prophetic direction, we ask that all of our wards and branches immediately implement this counsel,” the president of Salt Lake City’s Ensign Stake wrote in an email. “This means resuming mask-wearing and, where possible in our meetinghouses, practicing social distancing. Please communicate this message to your ward and branch members, households, those to whom you minister, and friends. We also strongly urge all our stake members to follow the First Presidency’s counsel by being vaccinated if health permits.”

To read the full article, CLICK HERE.