Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told reporters in a news conference Tuesday that the Church has committed substantial financial aid to Japan and that Church missionaries will be moved out of affected areas.
“We have great concern for everyone. Our prayers are being offered for them, and substantial financial help has already been committed to the nation.”
Concerns over limited food, power shortages and the possibility of radiation leaks from damaged nuclear power plants has prompted the Church to move its missionaries from two missions. “Given the radiation issue, we have taken the precaution of moving them out of the immediate area of concern in the Sendai and Tokyo missions,” he said. “We are moving the missionaries as safely as we can, given the transportation and infrastructure being what they are. No one’s panicking. We’re doing this in a calm and reasonable and very optimistic way.”
The Church had previously announced that all missionaries were accounted for. “There was great joy both for the leaders in Japan and the leaders here as we were finally able to report that every missionary is safe and accounted for,” said Elder David F. Evans, an executive director of the Church's Missionary Department, who also spoke at the press conference.
Elder Holland said evacuating missionaries also helps lessen the burden on others. “We want to have them out of harm’s way. That doesn’t mean we are any less concerned about anyone else who is in that circumstance. But we don’t want people worrying about the missionaries. All members are going to worry about the missionaries, and we don’t want any local Japanese people worrying about the missionaries if we can worry about them. We want them to take care of themselves and their own families as they can.”
Around 200 missionaries are being evacuated to other missions north and south of Sendai but will remain in Japan. “We are moving them to very safe distances. Whatever the government is saying, we are doubling, we are tripling, that distance.”
There are approximately 125,000 Japanese members. All members are safe and accounted for except for three congregations. “We know of no loss of life of a member of the Church yet. That doesn’t mean that we won’t learn of that, but we don’t know of any at this point and we’re very, very grateful for that,” said Elder Holland.
Elder Holland reemphasized concern for the people of Japan and said that the Church will work with government agencies, the Red Cross and others to make available any resources. “We traditionally do that as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said.