News Story

Studying Scriptures at Home Strengthens Individuals and Families During Pandemic

During the October 2018 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when President Russell M. Nelson announced that Sunday services were being reduced from three hours to two, many families changed their Sunday and daily scripture study routines to accept his challenge to make their homes the focus of gospel study.

Little did they know that the preparation for home-centred, Church-supported learning would be a blessing which would sustain them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central to that focus is the “Come, Follow Me,” gospel teaching and learning curriculum.


Ameet Kumar, of the East Coast Bays Ward (congregation) in Auckland, says his family has learnt the true meaning of studying the scriptures and hopes to continue beyond the pandemic.

During their Come, Follow Me study, they rotate who leads the discussion.

“We have done things as a family we normally would not,” says Anu, who is married to Ameet. “This time together has opened doors of communication, love, kindness and unity.”

For Jeremy and Melissa Higgins, of the Sunset Ward in Auckland, daily scripture study was nothing new; however, with the quarantine, their family discussions have evolved in many ways.

Being together in their “bubble” and with less commitment to school, social, and other activities, they’ve found they are less concerned about their to-do list and more relaxed about taking time for meaningful family discussions and enhanced gospel study.

With their daughters returning to school recently, they were able to connect with the reading in Mosiah in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. As they read about the various groups of people coming together in Zarahemla, Jeremy noted, “Not only have we learned to be tolerant and understanding in the knowledge that we are in the same boat as each other, but we have also been able to find common ground with the people in the scriptures.”

Sailasa Toga, a Year 3 student at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Primary School in Fiji, said, “I know that the day must begin with a prayer of gratitude. And at the end of the week it is reverent participation in family sacrament meeting. I have time to beautify my compound and at least do my part to keep Fiji clean.”

Christina Bidesi, also in Year 3, says she misses school, “but being safe at home and learning through play, worksheets, folding and ironing clothes, and spending more time with the family is the best!”

Grant and Claire Young, who moved to New Zealand from South Africa a year ago with their two daughters, made “Forget-me-not” bracelets to help remember the Saviour, and remind them to look outside themselves to find those who are struggling.

Daniel Scott, a leader in the Latter-day Saint Swanson Ward in Auckland’s west, says, “Come, Follow Me has been fantastic for our family. Everybody gets a turn at teaching the lessons, which has given the kids opportunities to be in charge. It definitely helped prepare us for a time when we wouldn’t be able to go to the chapel on Sundays.”

He added, “For myself, most of my ministering has been over the phone. I’ve called a lot of people who I’d never really spoken to before, and everyone seemed genuinely grateful for the call. It’s been enlightening.”

Joanne Maiva, also of the Swanson Ward, shared, “We know Heavenly Father has been preparing us for this time. We love the fact that as a family we have become so much closer. We have been on a spiritual high with the Come, Follow Me studies.”

She continued, “The reverence shown during the sacrament has been awesome. We know we have been advised to have a Christ-centred home. Through our prayers to our Heavenly Father we have felt the blessings of peace and ease throughout this time.”

Michael Carthew, a leader in the Sunset Ward on Auckland’s North Shore, and also the Director of Church Schools in the Pacific area, along with his wife Sharon, their university son, and a daughter who is waiting to resume her full-time missionary service, discussed how they will take more care in the way they present the emblems of the sacrament and are dressing more appropriately during this sacred time.

“We simply took greater care towards sacred things that were happening in our home,” Michael said. “The feelings and blessings have increased as a result. We are far from perfect, but we have felt a reassurance that if needed, we could worship our Heavenly Father in a meaningful way within the walls of our home.”

Aucklander Kari Vidal, who was quarantined with her four children, enjoyed the opportunity to work from home.

“I loved that the lockdown affected our family’s scripture study in a positive way. The relaxed rhythm helped us engage in deeper and more meaningful conversations. It was fun to talk about world events such as the pandemic, and individuals’ reactions through our gospel lens. It was easy to share my testimony with my children in a simple, straight forward way.“

American missionary, Craig Poll, who is serving an education mission with his wife Jackie in New Zealand, said, “When President Nelson prophesied the April conference would be one to remember, no one could have predicted how memorable it would be. Thanks to our inspired leaders who prepared us well to have Christ-centred homes leading up to, during, and beyond the pandemic.”

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