Local LDS Congregations Adapt And Respond To Pandemic

COVID-19 has disrupted businesses, schools, nonprofits and churches. including local LDS congregations.

Travis Wilcox is the Stake President of the Heber North Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As with all local LDS leadership, Wilcox is a lay minister, meaning he is not paid for his church work. Wilcox acts as a spiritual leader and administrative manager overseeing 10 Heber congregations, totaling about 4,700 people.

He says church leadership is and will continue to comply with government directives, as such they’ve instructed church members to conduct private worship services at home during this time. Wilcox says they’re also working to help provide for area residents’ material needs.

“There are lots of people that have lost jobs and are unable to provide the necessities of life at this time,” Wilcox said. “So, we’re working very closely with the Christian Center of Park City and the Utah Food Bank, who both have food pantries in Wasatch County. We’re working to help provide commodities from our bishops storehouse to these pantries, our church is making sizable donations in this regard to help provide for all people in the community that may be in need.”

Church leaders at the global and local level as well as the faith’s members are communicating with each other through emails, phone calls, and other electronic communication tools.

Young men and young women in the church evangelize for 18 months to two-years across the globe. With the COVID-19 pandemic leadership is bringing those young adults back to their homes, including to homes in the Wasatch Back. Wilcox says his own son arrived back from his mission in Peru on Wednesday.

“So my wife and I drove down to the airport to pick him up. This is what we would instruct all people to do but, we follow the instructions of airport officials and parked where directed and we waited in our car for him to come out of the airport,” Wilcox explained. “After he collected his baggage, he found us at our car, and we loaded his bags in the car and drove home. As you can imagine it’s been a tender and sweet reunion for us after a 21-month absence. Even though he’s healthy and has no symptoms, he’ll be in a 14-day self-isolation period in our home as we try to do our part not to spread the virus to others. So, this is what we’re instructing all missionaries—and we’ve had many in the Heber Valley that have returned home—to do. They come home and they spend 14 days in their homes isolated and just making sure that they don’t have the virus.”

The global church leadership is also preparing for its annual general conference this weekend. The event usually brings huge crowds to Salt Lake City. This year the meetings will be broadcast remotely on TV and online. Although the talks and topics aren’t known beforehand Wilcox offers what he believes those who listen will hear.

“Messages of hope and love and faith through Jesus Christ,” Wilcox continued. “Messages of compassion and taking care of each other in these trying and difficult times. Messages of hope to those that have lost loved ones during this time. Those are the messages that I would expect to hear.”

Wilcox says his heart and prayers goes out to everyone in the community who have experienced hardships as a result of the pandemic including those who have lost economic security and especially those who may have lost loved ones.

Read the original story at KPCW.org

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.