Hey guys, so attending the worship services of a religion other than your own can be a great experience, but it can also be intimidating or spark some anxiety if you don’t know what to expect, or if some of their religious traditions are a bit foreign to you. I mean, nobody wants to end up looking like Shrek at a fancy dinner.
When it comes to the worship services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you’re in luck. Because no matter where you go on this little blue planet, our worship services follow the same basic format. So in this episode, I am going to explain in detail exactly what to expect if you choose to join us during one of our Sunday services. Let’s do it.
Alright, so let’s start from scratch. The first thing you’re going to want to do is to figure out where the nearest church building is, and what time services start. It’s super easy. Go to ChurchofJesusChrist.org/maps/meetinghouses. Then, enter your address into the search bar. Let’s say we’re living at 368 38th St Astoria, Oregon. Hit search. The closest congregation, or ward, in this case, is called Astoria Ward. Click on it, and you’ll see what time services begin, and where the church building is.
When the time comes, make your way to the building, and walk right in like you own the place. Most people will be wearing their “Sunday best” but come in whatever you’re comfortable wearing to church. In most every ward, the first meeting is called Sacrament Meeting. It’s 1 hour long, and it takes place in the chapel. So, follow everybody else to the chapel, and take a seat wherever you’d like. Eventually, someone from the bishopric (the local leadership) will stand at the pulpit and welcome everyone to the meeting. They might make a couple of announcements. Then, to open the meeting, the congregation will sing a hymn, and someone will offer a quick prayer.
After the prayer, the person conducting will probably go through a few items of ward business. Usually, that consists of welcoming new members to the ward or giving a sustaining vote for members taking on new responsibilities in the ward. Less often, there may be a baby blessing or the confirmation of a new convert to the Church.
After any ward business, there will be another hymn as we move into the most important portion of the meeting — the sacrament, also known as communion in some faiths. During the hymn, you’ll see some guys at a table off to one side of the chapel preparing the sacrament. After the hymn, they bless and distribute the sacramental bread, followed by the sacramental water, which are symbolic of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.
Through this ordinance, members of the Church renew the covenants or promises they made with God at baptism. You may not have entered into those covenants yet, but you are still welcome to take the bread and water if that’s something you feel comfortable with. If not, just pass the tray along.
After the sacrament, you’ll notice that we do not have professional pastors that preach to us each week. Instead, you’ll generally hear from 2 or 3 speakers from the congregation who have come prepared to share a gospel message. Sometimes there may be a special musical number or an additional hymn mixed in there, depending on what the bishopric has planned for. After these gospel messages, the meeting closes with another hymn and a prayer.
I will also mention that the first Sunday of each month is designated as a “fast” Sunday—a day when members are invited to fast. During sacrament meeting on a “fast” Sunday, instead of hearing from pre-determined speakers after the sacrament, the pulpit is open to anyone who wants to share their testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel. It’s usually awesome, but of course, with an open mic, things can be a bit unpredictable sometimes.
Now, after sacrament meeting, there’s only one meeting left, but it’ll be different depending on the circumstances. If you are between the age of 3 and 11, after sacrament meeting every week you can attend Primary with the other kids. For everyone else, the first and third Sundays of every month are Sunday School weeks. If you are between the age of 12 and 17, you can attend a Sunday School class with other youth. If you are 18 or older, you attend with all of the other adult members of the ward.
Each year, the Sunday School curriculum cycles through a work of scripture — either the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants.
On the second and fourth Sundays of each month, men and women attend separate classes. The Relief Society for adult women, and the Elders Quorum for adult men. Young men attend an Aaronic Priesthood quorum, depending on their age. The young women attend a Young Women’s class, depending on their age.
Whether it’s a Sunday School week or an Elders Quorum/Relief Society week, this second Sunday meeting is much more interactive than sacrament meeting. The instructor will ask questions, lead discussions, and … teach. You can participate as much or as little as you’d like.
After the lesson, this second meeting will close with a prayer, and that’s it. That’s what we do in our church buildings on Sunday. Now, there are a few rare schedule exceptions that aren’t a big deal but I’ll make note of them in the YouTube description if you’re curious. Also, all of this information and more is available for anyone to read online in the Church’s general handbook. So, if you’ve got some free time, stop by one of these Sundays and worship with us. Come and see for yourself. As the signs indicate, visitors are always welcome. Thanks for watching, have a great day.