Public Humiliation at Church

Today’s Boston Globe printed a huge, full-color front page picture of Sasha Cohen falling on her bottom during last night’s figure skating competition for the Olympic gold medal. Poor Sasha. The indignity of falling on your butt is mulitiplied exponentially when the entire world watches you do it, and then replayed over and over and OVER again. After years and years of flawless practices, you fall on your bottom in the only two minutes that actually matter. And then you’re reminded of this humiliating incident everywhere you turn. Sasha wound up with the silver medal anyway, so hopefully she’s not too disappointed.

However, the picture of Sasha’s pratfall reminds me of the time I embarrassed myself in front of an entire church congregation. Luckily, there are no pictures or video clips preserving the moment, but it was a painfully humiliating experience nonetheless. I was fourteen years old and had been asked to sing a duet with my friend Rebecca as part of a special musical number for a stake leadership conference. I don’t remember the name of the song we sang, but I do remember that we started the song singing together, then Rebecca sang a solo part, then I sang a solo part, and then we ended the song singing in parts together. Very nice.

I was a fairly shy teenager with major performance anxiety, but as we practiced the song, I became comfortable with the music and actually looked forward to singing it. So, the day of the conference arrived, the speakers gave their talks, and Rebecca and I walked up to the front of the congregation while the pianist began playing our song.

We started out strong – and sounded beautifully singing together – just as we’d practiced. Then Rebecca sang her part, and it was my turn. At this point, I looked out at the congregation in front of us, and froze. And then I started laughing. Giggling uncontrollably.

The pianist glanced over at me, confused, but kept on playing, while I stood there, in front of the entire congregation of about 200 people, incapacitated by maniacal giggling. I’m not sure what happened next, I think Rebecca started singing my part for me, and somehow we got through to the end of the song.

After we finished, I immediately ran/walked out of the chapel and into the bathroom sobbing. Looking back, I could have handled things better – maybe I should have danced a little jig, flashed a big grin, and sauntered casually off stage, a la Ashlee Simpson.

So, what is your most embarassing moment at church?


  1. a random John says:

    I fainted passing the sacrament. It was fast sunday. I was given a get-out-of-fasting-free card.

  2. I was asked to give a talk on Christmas Sunday, (I was about 15) and I completely forgot about the whole thing. I got to Church that Sunday, and noticed that I was on the program. I had nothing prepared. I figured I would just read the Christmas story in Luke, which I did, and then I planned on talking about it for a minute or two afterwards.

    What happened was, I read from Luke 2, and said something, then my mind went blank. I stood up there for a few minutes trying to say something, but nothing came out. I bore my testimony quickly and went and sat down.

    Another one was when I blessed the Sacrament the first time. I had to read the prayer like 5 – 6 times. Very embarassing.

    Another time was on my mission when we had a visiting area authority and everyone in the mish was supposed to prepare a 5 minute talk on Faith, which I did. The GA called me up there (which I had the wierdest feeling that he would) and then asked me to talk on something completely different. Again, my mind went blank. Extremely embarassing to say the least.

  3. When I was 8, I was asked to give the opening prayer on the Sunday of the Primary program. I went into nervous auto-pilot mode, and asked for blessings on the food instead of the speakers.

    A couple of years later, my father gave me a copy of _Mormon Sisters_ to read, and we spent some time talking about it. He was the bishop of our ward at the time, and asked me to give a talk about some of the women I had read about. I chose Ellis Shipp and Patty Sessions, pioneer midwives. The opening line of my talk about brave, independent women: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”

    I didn’t know I should be embarrassed, but my father was a bit chagrined, to say the least!

  4. Well, it wasn’t exactly church, but there was this one time I stumbled across a too-hot-for-the-bloggernacle thread over at FMH. Very embarrassing.

    Elizabeth–take heart. Anyone who has been around in the church very long has seen so many songs/talks/musical numbers messed up that they all start to blur together. Passing out w/ the bread in your hand, on the other hand . . . that is embarrassing. Makes it look like the hand of God reached down and rebuked you for your sinful ways.

    Not really embarrassing but pretty funny was when six-month pregnant Gigi bore testimony last month and referred to our impending sealing as a “shotgun sealing.”

  5. enochville says:

    I don’t know if this was my most embarrassing moment, because I think you have to be a little older than I was to truly be embarrassed, but the topic made me think of this experience.

    When I was a toddler and still in diapers, I took off all of my clothes and diaper and pranced in front of the entire Primary as I approached my mom who was teaching a song to the kids.

  6. Once when I was passing the sacrament to the bishopric, I stumbled down the stairs. Deacon, water, and cups, all airborne.

    A month or so later, my mom decided that I was talking too much to a friend sitting by me on the deacon’s pew. She got up, walked over, and sat between us, and I suffered near death by humiliation.

  7. Thanks, you guys. You all made me laugh. I am going to go back after I die and watch the expression on Kristine’s dad’s face when she quotes–is it Gloria Steinem?

    I embarrass myself all the time. Sort of done all the above. Bill and I were both chagrined one fast Sunday when Jared walked in, long hair and beard and levis and all and came and sat by us, saying, “Hi, Mom and Dad.”

    It’s pretty safe to say we both had an out of body experience worrying over what he was going to do.
    We didn’t relax until church was over and I asked, “Jared, how come you came to church?” And he just said,”I wanted to.” I later learned he’d had some fierce demonic thing happen at a drug party or something. I can’t remember the details.

    I think I pretty much have embarrass other people. I wasn’t even embarrassed when the bishopric picked me up and carried me out as I was telling the sisters to save themselves, at the visiting teaching convention last week. Although I was stunned and amazed that they were that strong.

  8. Similar to Mark IV, I was passing sacrament as a deacon, received the tray from a row and turned too quickly and the tray hit the pew and I spilled holy water all over a lady in the next pew.

  9. Back when the sacrament was still passed in Jr. Sunday School, as a little Sunbeam I spilled the water tray all over the little kid sitting next to me. He wasn’t pleased.

  10. When I was 7 or 8, I remember bearing my testimony one Fast Sunday in sacrament meeting. I said all the normal things kids do at that age without really even thinking:

    “I know the church is true.” “I know President Kimball is a prophet.” “I’m grateful for my mom and dad and brothers and sisters.”

    At that point, people started laughing, and I couldn’t figure out why. I finished and went and sat down. Wasn’t until I replayed things in my head I realized I had said I was grateful for my “brothers and sisters,” when I only had brothers.

  11. Oh, I forgot, Bill embarrasses me all the time. He talks about me when he talks or bears his testimony (when all the kids were home, James, Jared and I would try to crawl under the bench when Bill got up, and the girls would sit up and beam proudly).

    I hate it. And he knows it. So last year he spoke on Valentine’s Day because it was Scout Sunday and I said, “honey, pretend you don’t know me, okay.” He said, “okay.”

    Then he got up there and said, “I just want my little valentine to know how much I love her. . .” and went on. He did it on purpose. To look at him, you wouldn’t know he was that evil. He laughs about it for weeks.

    And the young mothers came up and said, “your husband is so sweet, he loves you” and I said, “you guys, he was doing that to bother me. He’s evil.”

  12. Hmm, well.

    I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments in life, but for some reason, none of them have ever happened in church. I mean, there have been a few moments that were a little embarrassing – occasional fly-down moments; random mean kids mocking me; etc. Nothing really to write home about. But perhaps I’m just too clueless to realize when I should be embarrassed.

    And that brings me to Kristine’s quote. Um, so what? I’m at a loss as to why that should be so embarrassing. Is it embarrassing to quote Gloria Steinem? Is it embarrassing to quote a line that has sometimes been used as a lesbian tagline? That’s ancient history – that line gets used by every undergrad these days, and it’s mainstream enough to show up in a U2 song. So I don’t see what’s so embarrassing about that story, Kristine. (Sorry, Kris – I know that you cherish your neuroses, but being embarrassed about that one just seems to be a stretch).

  13. Oh, I do have one other comment:

    How embarrassing it is, Elisabeth, to know that you’re a POACHER??? :P

  14. I constantly embarrass myself. I’m klutzy and absent minded and when I get nervous I can’t shut up and say inappropriate things.

    I’ve fallen down the stairs when walking down from the stand, not once, not twice, but THREE times. (And that’s why I no longer wear heels) Once as I was standing at the microphone singing a musical number, my slip fell off. I tried to finish the song with it down around my ankles. Humiliation. I was accompanying a musical number once so I walked up to the stage, played the piano, and after I sat back down in the pew, my best friend told me my dress was unzipped. I’ve had people remove dry cleaning tags, purchase tags, all kinds of things I’ve forgotten to remove from my clothes.

    I have a million horrifying organ stories. One time, while sitting at the organ waiting to play the sacrament song, I somehow just completely lost my balance and fell onto the keyboard, absolutely blaring strange notes all over the place. I’ve started playing the wrong song before. Once I wasn’t paying attention and I stopped before the congregation had sung the third verse, then I realized what happened, so I tried to start playing the third verse, only to realize that she’d already given up and sat down, so I stop again, but by then she’s standing up to lead the last verse, so we have to start again. And when I was younger, before I was familiar with that darn scatter sunshine song I tried to sightread it and didn’t understand the time signatures at all and it was awful. AWFUL. Excruciating.

    People are always smiling at me in that sympathetic/empathetic way that makes you know they are just grateful it wasn’t them.

  15. Oh – and of course, I’ve worn a shirt inside out to church before. That was nice. Oh, and I’ve worn two different shoes before. I need help.

  16. And I think it’s so mean spirited for the press to focus on Sasha’s fall. The rest of her performance was just beautiful. She won a silver! She’s the number two rates women’s skater in the world. And instead of focusing on what an accomplishment that is, they all focus on what she did wrong. If I was Sasha I would be mad. And hurt.

  17. Well, here are two more embarrassing Church moments Travis and I discussed over dinner tonight:

    1. A man in our Ward had a young daughter whose nickname was slang for male genitalia in Haitian Creole. He would chase after his daughter in the hallways calling out her name, much to the consternation of the members of the Haitian branch who shared our building.

    2. A few years ago, we were in charge of printing the programs for Sacrament Meeting, and Travis was absolutely certain that the name of the baby being blessed one particular Fast Sunday would be given the middle name “Ishmael”, although I wasn’t sure that was the name we heard. But instead of checking with the parents before we printed the program, we decided to go with “Ishmael”. Of course, the baby’s middle name turned out to be “Starbuck” NOT Ishmael. Easy mistake – same novel, different names.

  18. I think my worst moment in church was when my daughter got up to bear her testimony and mentioned how we couldn’t afford Christmas that year (but were going to buy some gifts for kids in the foster care system). (I’d warned the kids that we couldn’t afford much, but that if we gave to others we’d be blessed for it–and we were, a check came through for us that enabled us to have a nice Christmas. But how embarrassing to have that broadcast over the pulpit.)

    Then there was the time I first brought my three-year old to primary, and they all sang the welcome song, while he stood there picking his nose.

  19. I can’t think of any especially embarassing moments in church (though, to be fair, every time I’ve taught in Sharing Time has been mortifying for unique and terrible reasons) but I do have one that I’ve seen happen to other people: for probably five or six weeks straight, the bishopric in our ward asked the whole congregation to be more reverent; we have nearly 200 children under 12, with all but the toddler set 80% active (or so) so sacrament meetings are… noisy. Anyway, they’d been asking for weeks, and the deacons one week were just… not being helpful. Well, one of the deacons has a dad in the bishopric… and he stood up in the middle of the meeting, just before the sacrament prayers, and said very loudly, in a not-so-nice tone: “Will the deacons please be quiet?” A minute later, the other counselor went and sat down with the boys; my sister’s YW class was supposed to have a visit from the bishop, but it was cancelled so the bishop could spend the hour testifying to the entire YM about reverence and setting an example and so forth. They’re still antsy and dead silent throughout the meeting, and it’s been months; I don’t think any of them had ever even thought of the possibility of being called to repentence in public like that.

    Incidentally, the whole congregation was silent — even the little kids — the whole rest of that meeting. It was kind of cool. I was really glad I wasn’t a deacon in that moment…

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    In 1979, when I returned from my mission to Colorado, I was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting on marriage (I suppose that was supposed to be some sort of a hint). At that time I was all full of myself and thought I was the fount of all gospel knowledge. So I prepare this incredible discourse, basically a tour through the scriptures dealing with marriage, starting in the OT and proceeding forward in time. Very McConkieesque.

    But I was so full of myself that I didn’t realize I blew past my time. Finally the bishop had to tug on my suit coat and ask me to end the talk and sit down. I was maybe a quarter of the way through my talk, so I hadn’t pulled it all together yet, and it was just an incoherent mess.

    While that was terribly embarrassing at the time, I learned from my mistake. Ever since then, I have always practiced and timed my talks, so I have a good sense of how long they are, and I build in the capacity to shorten them or lengthen them, depending on what the speakers do before me. Since that experience, I have never run long again.

    (Does anyone else think Sasha has the most beautiful smile ever?)

  21. A couple of comments:

    1. Sue (#14), thanks for sharing those experiences—so funny! We’ve had a few organists who have struggled in our ward over the years and I always root for them to just hang on. I feel for you!

    2. One point of clarification on Elisabeth’s comment about certain Haitian creole slang terms and a particular nickname. Please note that this happened several years ago, so no current ward members who may be lurking out there need be worried. ;)

    3. I’ll add one more (rather mild) experience: as Ward Mission Leader a few years back I was able to baptize a wonderful woman named Pam who is to this day one of my favorite people on this planet. So far, she’s still reasonably fond of me. A couple of months ago she was up bearing her testimony in Sacrament meeting and said “… when I was baptized by Joseph Smith, uh, wait, no it was Travis Smith!”.

  22. Kevin: I wholeheartedly agree – I’ve loved Sasha for so long – even before the world knew how wonderfully talented and beautiful she is (and flexible! – holy cow)

    Mathew: yes, I’m hopeful no one remembers my humiliation of oh so many years ago, but I still cringe (inwardly) whenever I run into Sister So and So who was in the congregation on That Fateful Day. And congrats on your sealing and your new baby! :)

  23. I was walking along a street once … and I was lost in thought. I somehow managed to walk headfirst into a street sign and got knocked abruptly onto my back. I wasn’t hurt at all and sprang to my feet quickly, looking around. My first thought was … “if anyone saw me do that, they are losing it laughing right now” …

    Another thought I had at that time was that this incident would definitely make the heavenly blooper reel.

  24. Julie in Austin says:

    danithew–I was in junior high and talking to a b-o-y that I really liked as we were walking and then SMACK I went face first into this huge cement support pillar.

  25. Sue, would you come to my ward? It took me five minutes and tears down my face as I was trying to explain to my husband what I was laughing about. What would one do if their slip fell off while they were singing? In church?

    I would be the friend who never let you forget it.
    My friend stopped playing the organ one time 24 years ago and I remind her every once in awhile. “Remember that time Karla was leading and you were playing and you stopped and we had a moment of silence?”

    We have a similar woman in our ward. Everyone loves her. Her daughter got up to bear her testimony a few months back and she acted like she tripped (because her mom always does) and said, “I love you, Mom.”

    Kaimi, going right over on your link to be further entertained. Frankly, I would be embarrassed if my daughter quoted Gloria Steinem from the pulpit, although Sarah has come pretty close. I don’t have a good intellectual reason why, but I would be. That is a sucky quote, for sure.

    And then Danithew came along. And I lost it altogether. That had to hurt.

  26. But Kaimi, even if Elisabeth is a poacher, this thread’s more interesting. Plus I want you to delete that post I did, because I am now more embarrassed about it than I was. Not because of the cussing, but because of the narcking. I know your busy over at the snarkernacle, but I’d appreciate it and I’m not being sarcastic.

    I just realized. Narcking is one of my main character defects.

  27. At age nine, they were stupid enough to have me present the flag in primary. It was for July 4, full Cub Scout uniform and everything.

    I looked at the spear-head on the end of the pole, yelled CHARGE! and ran down the aisle to the front.

    Actually, that wasn’t really that embarassing for me. I actually thought it was kinda cool. So did the rest of the kids in primary …

    I think my mom was pretty embarassed though, it being uber-patriotic southern Utah and all …

  28. Aha! Travis’s mention of someone he baptized made me remember a church-related embarrassing moment. A pretty good one.

    It’s in Guatemala, and the water pressure is not constant. We start filling up the font. There’s no water. Hours later, at the baptism, there is still just a foot of water in the font.

    We literally took rocks and put them in on the edge to displace water. Still, we ended up with about sixteen inches of water. Not ideal.

    Fortunately, our baptizee is a skinny sixteen year old kid. I’m baptizing. My DL is one witness, my companion is the other. We kneeled-sat down to start with. I said the baptismal prayer, and leaned him back. Got his upper body under water. Looked down – dang. Air bubble at his knee. I’m patting it down, trying to hold him with my other hand, make sure that he’s all under at one time. That’s the rule, right?

    And I think I have it. So I start lifting him up, and standing up myself. I look up at my DL and my comp for some sign. Thumb up? Thumb down? Do I need to redo? What’s going on here? They’re not giving me any indication one way or the other. They’re just watching me. I’m looking up at them, as I lift the kid up. Come on, guys! Give me a sign!

    It turns out rising from a crouching position while holding onto a wet person and simultaneously lifting that person up from a prone position requires a lot of attention. It’s not all that good of an idea to be looking up at other people as you attempt this.

    Yep, that’s right. I dropped him. I wasn’t watching him, he slipped, arms flew back, and he tumbled backwards into the shallow water. My companion and DL dissolved laughing and were on the floor, laughing, for minutes. I was trying to help the poor new member. We made it out of the font without further incident.

    For the rest of my mission, my DL would sometimes look at me, and grin broadly, and say “Wenger, I still can’t believe that you _dropped_ that kid!”

  29. About a year ago, I went into Sunday School holding my baby and the big fat bag o’ toys to keep her quiet. I went to sit down at the far end of the second-to-back row, plopped the bag on the chair beside me, and sat down … on nothing at all. I hadn’t bothered to look, but my row had one less chair in it than the row in front of me; I fell right on my butt, babe in arms, without even the sense to brace myself for the fall (because there should have been a chair there!!).

    We weren’t hurt, but as I turned to stand up I saw that the very back row was filled with red-faced, trying-politely-not-to-laugh men….

    OY. At least it was only one row who saw me do it, though, lol!

  30. Paul Ramsell says:

    1- As a young adult I got spooked while reading the scripture during sacrament meeting and just kept on reading. When I finally realized what I was doing, I said “oh, I guess I read too far.” I was so humiliated I refused to speak in church again until my missionary farewell, years later.

    2- When I was a deacon, for some reason I often got “wood” right when it was time to stand and pick up the sacrament trays. My face would turn bright red as I tried to conceal it with the tray.

    3- As an RM I was speaking at a nursing home when some sweet old senile lady started heckling me, crying out “bullshit!” and “oh shutup!”

    4- While reaching for the sacrament tray my girlfriend said, way too loudly, “remember, we can’t take it!” We were sitting right in front of her parents.

  31. My all-time favorite embarrassing church story didn’t happen to me, but to my youngest sister’s friend. (She was in our ward; I was there for the incident; this is no friend of a friend’s second cousin’s sister’s teacher’s husband story!)

    The poor girl was 12 years old, giving her very first youth talk in sacrament meeting. Her topic was missionary work, and she used as an example the missionary experiences of one of the prophets. (Joseph F. Smith, maybe? That’s not the part of the story that sticks in my mind, lol.) She kept impressing on us his dedication to spreading the gospel:

    “He and his companion stood on street corners every day, prostituting. When his companion got sick, he went out to prostitute by himself.”

    I thought I’d heard her wrong the first time she said it, but then she kept saying it, over and over and over and over. There were some titters from the congregation at first, and then full-blown, can’t-contain-it giggles and laughs and guffaws (including from me — I couldn’t help it! I had to put my head in my lap, finally, I was laughing so hard).

    The poor kid! It’s any public speaker’s worst nightmare, and on her first time! You could tell by her face that she knew she was saying something horribly wrong, but she didn’t know what the wrong word was or what the right word would be…. In her flustered state, she said at least 5 times that the prophet prostituted himself.

    Geez, it makes me giggle still. I’m so glad that wasn’t me. ;-)

    As an epilogue, the girl is cool enough that she can laugh about the incident, herself. I wouldn’t tell the story if I thought she’d mind (though I’m still not going to give any identifying information, lol).

  32. My wife was teaching nursery one day and one of the little boys was mad at her because it was clean up time. This little boy pulled on her skirt, and pulled it all the way down!

    I think that one of the little boys was traumatized…

  33. I think I pretty much have embarrass other people. I wasn’t even embarrassed when the bishopric picked me up and carried me out as I was telling the sisters to save themselves, at the visiting teaching convention last week. Although I was stunned and amazed that they were that strong.

    Uh, what? I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t ask for more details.

  34. Also, not my most embarrasing moment, but the most recent one. At our last Testimony meeting a young woman had got up to bear her testimony about the miracle of birth (she’d just had her first child). As she went to finish, she was overcome by emotion and paused for a second. At that exact time my 5-year-old decided to loudly tell us “This is boring”.

  35. snarkerwannabe says:

    Best thread ever…nice work Elisabeth. A handful stories, most of them mine:

    1) Until not long ago our youngest was not a big fan of church. At the age of 4, he would complain about going and fight us not to get in the car. One time, during the tranquility of the passing of the sacrament, he stood up straight in the pew and said out loud, “I DON’T LIKE JESUS!”

    2) When I was a bishop a few years back, we had a Primary program which clearly wasn’t rehearsed enough. It went TWENTY minutes overtime, but because I and the rest of the bishopric had moved off the stand to sit in the audience with our families, we couldn’t exactly stand up and tell them to stop. Worst thing was, the stake president happened to be visiting, and the final number was a bagepipe solo of “Amazing Grace”. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with bagpipes in church, but if you’re not used to it…

    3) This one’s secondhand, but I’m pretty sure it really happened. A girl in the singles ward stood up to give a talk, but her heels apparently got caught on the long dress she was wearing, so next thing you know she was standing there red-faced with her skirt around her ankles. I heard that attendance among the brethren rose sharply after that incident (okay kidding on that point).

    4) When I was growing up, one of my friends’ families was mostly active but his dad was not exactly on the straight and narrow. The bishop (who himself later went inactive, strange story there) nevertheless asked him to speak in church. My friend’s father gave a surprisingly firey denunciation of various things he saw wrong with the world, but in the course of doing so used the Lord’s name in vain about 3 or 4 times. As you can imagine, the bishop eventually had to sit him down.

    5) We had one investigator who was not playing with a full deck. He insisted coming to church, perhaps to embarrass us in the following way: when the sacrament was passed down our row, he took he tray, stood straight up and very ceremoniously partook thereof, and then sat back down before passing on the tray.

    6) In that same ward on my mission in Germany, we taught a lot of African investigators. Of course this included translating sacrament meeting talks for them. Since there were so many non-German speakers in sacrament meeting, we got a wireless headphone translation system. Anyway, during the Gulf War there were more than a few talks about food storage and disaster preparedness, laden with naked appeals to buy this or that brand of 30-year wheat. Others would prophesy that the End Was Near and … you get it. So instead of translating the sacrament meeting talks, we would just read a chapter from Gospel Principles or something. The members never knew, but we had to bite our lips to keep from cracking up.

  36. Oh, one more embarrassing moment. My friend, Tonya, was the Primary President and she’s very shy. The stake presidency called her up to bear her testimony one time and she went up and couldn’t think of anything to say, so she just stood there for a few agonizing moments, then went back and sat down. The stake president got up and said, “I think we’ve all experienced a spiritual moment.”

    Tonya got assigned a visiting teaching companion who was also very quiet and shy and they went to a quiet shy sister. I asked her once, “who talks?” And she said, “sometimes nobody.” They sit there awhile and go home.

    Dang, I’ve got to get off this computer, there is just an abundance of wonderful topics at the moment. I need serious 12 stepping.

  37. 1) While teaching Sunday School, I said “orgasm” instead of organism (I’ll spare you the context).

    2) I remember attending a sacrament meeting where the local crazy got up to bear her testimony on the benefits of having all her secret children with Gorbachev.

  38. a random John says:

    The baptism stories brought something to mind, which I think I’ve mentioned before.

    On my mission I was performing a baptism and the water in the font wasn’t the warmest and the woman was pretty nervous about the about the number of people that would be watching and had an incredible fear of water. So we get in and she’s shivering a little and I ask if she’s ok and she say s that she is.

    I explain how the movements of the actual immersion work and that it is easiest if she relaxes while going down and then helps coming back up. I say the prayer and start to put her under the water when I think, “Wow, she really is relaxed.” An instant later I realize that she is unconcious.

    I quickly change positions from one arm on front and one on back to two arms under her armpits and pull her up. I guess I wasn’t quite fast enough for the high councilman that was in attendance since he jumped in the font in his suit, concerned that I would drop her. There was a huge splash and all the kids sitting up front and some of the adults seated in chairs got wet.

    We pulled her out and the guy from the HC seemed annoyed with me that she had fainted. I was annoyed with him since I was already pulling her up before him jumped in, and it seemed unreasonable for him to blame me for someone else fainting.

    She came to pretty quickly and after a ten or twenty minutes was ready to try it again. We were pretty sure she had been completely immersed the first time, but we figured that being aware of the ordinance was an important aspect of it, so we did it again, this time with only three people watching.

  39. I was the ward clerk a few years ago. After the sacrament was passed I got up to take the attendance count. As I walked from the front of the chapel to the back one of the brothers motioned for me. I leaned down and he informed me that my pants were unzipped. I wanted to melt away, but I zipped them up and completed the count. This is now one of my wife’s favorite stories.

  40. Ever get into a laughing fit in the temple? My girl friend and I were doing sealings. The names were Finnish, so they were a little unusual to us, which must have been the reason for the giggles. Well, after an excruciating effort at self control, finally, we were completely calmed down. That’s when the first name Dorkus came up. We both lost it. :-)

  41. Anonymous Convert says:

    What? All of these embarrassing moments and not one fart story? C’mon people!

  42. Kevin Barney says:

    I asked my wife what stories she could remember. She came up with two:

    1. A woman in our ward was talking about a trip she had taken, and for some reason (I forget the exact context) she started talking about her thong. I think she was telling a story in which she lost her thong, or something like that. So she’s talking along, and then turns beet red, and realizes that people are thinking she is talking about thong underwear, so she clarifies that she meant a flip-flop type of thong.

    2. So my wife is in RS where they’re playing that Elder Uchtdorf talk “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” And he was a pilot and is using a lot of aeronautical terms like “thrust” and “uplift,” and she is wondering whether anyone else was having a Beavis and Butthead moment listening to that talk.

  43. I’ve heard the scrotum/sternum story as well. I think that one’s legit (and regardless, funny enough to perpetuate anyway).

    Here are a couple of other secondhand stories (but I promise, only one degree of remove from me to a firsthand witness…):

    1) A little girl was being noisy in sacramement meeting, and her father kept leaning over and whispering stern threats in her ear. She continued being disruptive, so he picked her up and stormed out. As he tromped down the aisle the little girl hollered “No, daddy, PLEASE don’t kick my ass daddy, PLEASE don’t kick my ass!”

    2) An elderly gentleman in a ward somewhere in the West told the bishop before sacrament meeting that he had two announcements to make: 1) his granddaughter was getting married, and 2) he had a goat for sale. Once the meeting got started, the bishop, perhaps deciding the goat sale wasn’t proper pulpit business, simply said “Brother Jones has some very exciting news about his granddaughter that he’d like to share with us.”

    The elderly gentleman, who was rather hard of hearing, only gathered that the bishop had invited him up to the pulpit, and didn’t hear the “about his granddaughter” part. So, arriving at the podium with the wrong announcement in mind, he said, “Well, she’s a real good girl, real quiet and gentle, never given me any trouble. Just don’t have no use for her myself any more, so I’m selling her off. If you’re interested, just come on by the house to take a look. You’ll see her out there at the edge of the yard chewin’ on the fenceposts. And you can tell which one is her,” he added, “cause she’s the one what only got three teats.”

  44. I was going to post about my kids falling asleep in Sacrament (not when they were babies, either), and farting in their sleep, but figured everyone had had a moment like that.

    I think the worst was at my daughter’s baptism. My husband tried to dunk her fast, but her hair didn’t completely go under, and she refused to try again. (She had a bit of a phobia about the water, it was cold, and the font was leaking so it was very low. She ended up getting baptized when she was 9 or 10.)

    We had to send everyone home with her not baptized. And there’s my non-member, hard-of-hearing grandma yelling, “Well I think it counts! Who cares if her hair didn’t all get wet?” Nightmare.

  45. Though I don’t actually remember this incident myself, this one lives on in the annals of family history.

    Sometime during sacrament meeting my big sister and I (probably 8 and 9 or so) ended up alone on the front pew. I don’t know where the parents were, off chasing my brothers or preparing lessons . . .

    Anyway, we started fighting. Fighting, yelling and hitting and hair pulling! In the middle of sacrament meeting, on the front row. The bishop had to come down and sit between us.

    My mother has never forgiven us.

  46. Here’s another one I’ve witnessed:

    An older gentleman who was not from the US (and who tended to get a little cranky sometimes) was asked to bless the Sacrament one Sunday. He made a mistake while saying the prayer and the Elder standing next to him leaned down and quietly pointed out the mistake. This brother loudly exclaimed into the microphone–almost as if they were just the next words he was reading from the little card–“Shut up!”. Without furter ado, he started the prayer over, getting it right (or close enough) this time. Looking up after that one you could see a lot of grins across the congregation.

  47. annegb,

    It was Richfield. They don’t even have a University to provide a few token Democrats …

  48. Seth R.,

    For some of us, Richfield doesn’t count as “southern utah…” :)

  49. When I was on my mission, one of our investigators gave me a personal alarm device to carry in my bag (it’s a handheld device that emits an ear-piercing siren when you pull out a pin that is attached to a wrist-strap – it’s so loud and shrill that it really hurts your ears.) One Sunday during the sacrament, while sitting in the third row with a new member family, I was rummaging through my bag and somehow caught my hand on the wrist strap and pulled the pin out of the alarm. In panic, I grabbed it and sat on it (which only deadened the noise a little) while I dug through my bag looking for the pin as fast as I could. After the ten longest seconds in my life, I found it and turned the thing off.

  50. Susan,

    I typed up an experience I had earlier with a baptism that is very similar to the one you shared … but then didn’t post it because I didn’t want to sound mean … due to one difference in how the ordinance went.

    The first month of my mission I baptized a woman who had a phobia about being under the water. She advised us of this ahead of time. When we went into the font she was trembling and I could tell this was a one-shot attempt — either she’d be baptized the first time or not at all. It was a major achievement that she was even standing there in the water.

    After the prayer when I went to lay her back in the water, she was already beginning to panic. What I had not foreseen was that her long hair would float on the top of the water. Instead of letting her up for the re-do that was never going to happen, I gave her an additional shove under the water. She was under the water for a few seconds longer than most … but the baptism done. She came up out of the water crying and struggling and got out of the font as fast as she could.

    A few minutes later she was smiling again though.

    Sidenote: My comp was furious with me for that extra shove. However, I didn’t feel the slightest bit of regret for putting her through that little bit of (largely harmless) trauma.

  51. Kevin Barney says:

    I thought of a couple more:

    1. I grew up attending Church in an old building that had previously been a congregational church, so it obviously wasn’t the standard Mormon plan (we even had cool stained glass windows!). The floors in the chapel area sloped down towards the front, and the pews were arranged in a semicircular format, so that pretty much everyone could see what was going on in the pews in front of them. You also need to remember that back in those days, there was a fair amount of consternation in the Church about young people and playing cards.

    So one Sunday, there is my little brother and his best friend, sitting in the front row on the left hand side, playing poker, for all to see, just oblivious to the impropriety of what they were doing. I thought it was funny, but my parents were not so amused.

    2. A few years ago my wife and I were chaperones for a youth conference in Nauvoo. We were in charge of a group of about 12 kids, and there were two girls that kept ditching us to go off and do whatever they felt like.

    So on Sunday, we’re in this outdoor park holding a testimony meeting, which is supposed to be the spiritual highlight of the conference. All of a sudden we hear this SUV horn honking really loudly over and over again. It turns out the girls had gotten into our Ford Explorer, locked the doors and then tried to open them without unlocking them first. We knew from experience that if you did that the remote wouldn’t turn the horn alarm off. We tried everything we could think of to get it to stop honking, but it took us literally 10 minutes. Needless to say, the hushed spiritual tone of the meeting was completely ruined. I didn’t mind too much, since those miscreant girls who were stuck in our honking car during that time got to share in our embarrasssment!

  52. My wife and I recall a case with a couple, whom we’ll call Mark and Vicki. We were recently married living in an older married ward, and being both RMs, were assigned to teach the gospel essentials / investigator class (we were stake missionaries). Mark and Vicki were in the group. They were polar opposites — the blonde California surfer and the passionate New York Italian. This was a second marriage for each (Mark had grown up in the Church but had been inactive for most of his life while Vicki was a new member).

    Two years later, after graduating from BYU, we moved back to this ward in this state, to find that Mark and Vicki were in the throes of divorces. Mark had moved to a house in the neighborhood so that his and her children could remain in the same school and ward.

    At one testimony meeting, Vicki stood up and told everyone how miserable she was and how it was all Mark’s fault. I mean, she’s recounting stuff out on the edge of propriety about their relationship and what it means now that he’s gone. [Of course, 70% of the ward is taking her side. Mark never offered any defense, by the way, even though it was certain that the charges were embellishments.] But while this testimony was ongoing, it had to be excruciating for Mark — it was excruciating for me (I happened to be sitting next to him).

  53. My most embarassing moment at church (so far):

    One Sunday during the Sacrament some argument broke out between my two and four year old boys. We could not seem to solve in a quiet manner and as the situation spiralled downwards, I made the decision to take them out of the chapel. Carrying two pre-schoolers at the 8 month mark of pregnancy was no mean feat. As I quickly moved toward the side door (glaring at my husband who sat on the stand watching with a bemused look on his face), I failed to notice my 2 year old lift both legs simulteneously and bring them down with tremendous force on the bar of the door. The quiet in the chapel was shattered by this noisy explosion and mortified, I made a quick exit.

    My embarassment was only heightened when I discovered that the missionaries were asking around if I was”ok” ie. stable, as they thought it was me who had KICKED the door open. This of course, resulted in a great number of jokes at my expense, culminating in the members of my ward giving me a gigantic steel-toed boot at the Ward Christmas party, which I guess they thought would be better for kicking down doors than my size 6.5 leather pumps.

  54. I remember my first talk in sacrament meeting–I had to give one of those 2min talks. The girl who went before me finished her talk and headed back to her seat. I stepped out into the isle so she could get by me. As she moved in, I took another step back to allow enough room when my heel caught the step to the next level–I fell flat on my back.

  55. Okay, you’ll have to stick with me on this one, because it has kind of an elaborate setup, but I think the payoff is worth it.

    So, when my wife and I got married, we honeymooned at a resort just a couple of hours away from my home town because a) we were poor, and b) we had to interrupt it in the middle to attend my cousin’s mission farewell. So, a couple of days in to the honeymoon we drive to my uncle’s house to meet up with my family before the farewell. When I walked in my uncle’s house I noticed an extra white shirt, freshly ironed, hanging on the railing: my dad had brought it down, just in case I hadn’t thought to pack one. I already had one on, though, so I hung the extra shirt in the car, and when we finally got home I put it my closet.

    Fast forward one week. It’s our first Sunday in our new married student ward. We end up sitting on the front row in Sunday School, just a couple of feet from our new bishop, and I’m wearing the shirt my dad had brought me (still clean and ironed). A few minutes into the lesson, I notice there’s something in my shirt pocket. I reach in an pull it out. I’m holding it there in front of me for a few seconds, trying to figure out what it is, with the bishop right there and a bunch of strangers sitting all around us. And then it registers: here, in Sunday School, in my new ward, in front of my new bishop, I’m holding A TUBE OF K-Y LUBRICATING JELLY.

    (Incidentally, hiding some lube into my dress shirt pocket comprised in its entirety my parents’ efforts to teach me about sex…)

  56. I was a teacher at the time, and accustomed to playing video games until late at night on Saturday nights, which obviously left me very tired for the following Sabbath day mornings. One Sunday as I was seated with the rest of the Aaronic preisthood before passing the sacrament, head in my hands, half awake and half asleep (you know, the aaronic priesthood position). Just then the bishop extends a release to the ward mission leader, and instead of raising my hand with the rest of the congregation to “show my appreciation”, I immediately start applauding. Full out, palm-cupping applause. 6 or 7 claps later my head snaps up out of my hands and I realize that:

    1. I’m in church,

    2. No one else is clapping, or for that matter raising their hands, and
    3. the entire ward is staring at me with that held-in-grin look on their faces.

    Needless to say, the man who was released came up to me afterwards to express his thanks for my generous display of appreciation.

  57. #55, this reminded me of one of my most embarrassing moments. I was invited to the bridal shower for one of my buddies at BYU, thrown by two of her roommates I also knew. I’d been to several similar showers recently, and I was a newly wed myself. As I arrived, I was asked to write down a bit of anonymous advice for the bride on a slip of paper that was put into a basket. It wasn’t until after her mother, grandmother and several elderly aunts arrived that I realized a game was going to be played where the bride guessed who wrote the advice. I about died when the grandma, who was a bit hard of hearing, kept asking loudly, “WHAT’s KY JELLY???”

    When I turned 18 halfway through my senior year of high school I started hanging out some with the YSAs in the ward (I grew up in a college town, and attended church by myself). This was back when we did SS opening exercises right after SM, and one of the other YSAs was the SS Pres. I was daydreaming when my friend elbowed me and whispered urgently that I was supposed to say the opening prayer. We debated thru the opening song, since no one had ASKED me to say it,and I hadn’t heard them say my name. She insisted the SS president had said my name. When the song ended and no one got up (we were sitting towards the back), I got up and started walking to the pulpit. I was processing the strange look of the SS president when I realized that one of the other YSAs, who’d on the back row, was walking up behind me. We stopped, looked at each other, and he graciously sat down and let me get up and give the prayer. Later we sorted out that my friend had heard “Claire Cutler” when in fact the SS president had said (something like) “Derek Butler.”

    I bet no one else even noticed, but I was a high school kid trying to be cool with the college crowd, and I was pretty ticked at my friend.

    An embarrassing moment that never happened: The talk I was asked to give the Sunday after my the night of my senior prom on the Aaronic Priesthood… I completely overslept and didn’t even show up. I did actually prepare it, as opposed to the time the counselor in the bishopric called me at a babysitting gig (on a Saturday night! At a non-member’s house where there were no scriptures or church books.. before the church website even existed!) to ‘remind’ me of a talk assignment he’d never actually given me. I can’t believe I didn’t tell him there was no way I could still do it, but I got up and said something.

  58. As a missionary I attended a baptism of a husband and wife whose teenage daughter wasn’t interested in the church but showed up to show her support. When Elder Harmon immersed the woman her wig came loose and was left floating on top of the water. Pandemonium broke loose. The spiritual nature of the event notwithstanding, it was impossible not to laugh–the woman, her husband and, loudest of all, their daughter joining in.

  59. A four year old was acting up in sacrament meeting, and his dad was whispering threats into his ear. The kid continued acting up, and finally the dad whispered loudly “If you don’t stop, I’m going to take you out.” (At this point the whole room wass watching.) The kid stood up on the pew and yelled as loudly as possible: “No! I’m going to take *you* out!” (The dad took him out of the room kicking and screaming.)

    A strange lady stood up in testimony meeting and gave a tearful 30 minute life-story that didn’t have much to do with the gospel. It inculded descriptions of her various mental-health diagnoses, including schizophrenia, and some very strange personal messages from God. Finally, the bishop pulled her over and asked her to wrap it up, as it was time for the meeting to end. She turned back around and immediately sang “I Am a Child of God.” Then she said in an exasperated voice “please don’t clap, this is sacrament meeting,” (no one was clapping) and then sat down. I don’t think she was embarassed, but everyone else was. She also wore bunny slippers to church a couple of times.

    In the same ward, another lady stood up every single month and, following her testimony, talked about how evil Castro is. This lasted for years. For a few months she also added “I know we’re not supposed to bloc vote, but I feel so strongly that the Lord doesn’t want us to elect Bill Clinton.”

    A couple of weeks ago in my student ward, a guy was giving an amazing talk and had most of the room captivated. He paused for effect near the end, and just then a girl near the back of the room snored loudly enough for the whole chapel to hear.

    This afternoon, I was talking to someone on my way out of the building, and walked into a handicapped parking sign. Luckily, only one person saw. Unluckily, she was my ride home, and laughed at me for a very long time.

  60. My friend and I were sharing some humor in sacrament meeting, so we were already in a laughing mode, when we both tuned in to the speaker in time to hear him say:

    “I bear you my testimony that Joseph Smith was a tool……(longest pause in the world)….in the hand of the Lord.”

    We turned purple trying not to laugh out loud, with little success. Its not every day some calls the Prophet a tool.

  61. I was sitting in the back row at church farthest from the pulpit when the bishopric introduced the opening song and the organist played the introduction and stopped as no one came up to lead the music.

    I thought, “oh that is just like those guys to just leave with no one to lead”—-then I had an out of body experience as I realized she’d asked me to lead the music that day.

    There was no way I was going to rush up from that far corner to lead the music. I just sat there and a guy in front got up and looked around then went up and led the song.

    I didn’t get up for the practice or closing, either.

    And one day, this isn’t embarrassing. When Sarah was about three, she fell asleep across our laps. And I laid my head on Bill’s shoulder and fell asleep, and he laid his head against mine and fell asleep. When I opened my eyes, some ladies in front of us were smiling benignly at the sweetly sleeping family in the back row.

    And a couple of weeks ago, Bill fell asleep while we were singing the opening song and dropped the hymbook. I thought that was pretty funny. Although I think he has something wrong with him, like narcolepsy or something because how can you fall asleep while sitting upright holding a book and singing.

  62. A couple of years ago at Christmas, we were visiting my parents’ ward in Utah. This is not the ward I grew up in — my parents have moved since then — so I knew almost no one. We were sitting in the front because t’s one of those wards where everyone puts their scriptures on the pews to save seats and you are darn lucky if you can find a good place to sit, never mind if you have little kids and might need to make a rapid escape. Oh, and there are almost no little kids in that ward. My four year old son was restlessly kicking at the hymnal holder attached to the back of the pew in front of us. Kick, kick, kick, CRASH! the whole thing came down in the middle of the sacrament prayer. It was a want-to-sink-into-the ground moment for me.

    Comparable only with the time I was a brand new YW leader driving a minivan full of teenagers to a stake dance 45 mintues away. The entire time I just kept feeling sicker and sicker, until finally we had to pull over rapidly into a bank parking lot so I could lose my dinner. The young man who had been sitting next to me proclaimed himself “traumatized.” Teenagers can be kind of intimidating! I dropped the kids off and made my way back home, driving for 10 minutes and resting for 10 the entire way. Little did I know the entire ward was in a panicked flurry of phone calls trying to figure out where I was as I inched home. Cell phones are awesome; that’s how they knew I was sick. But I didn’t have one at the time.

  63. I forgot all about my family baptism stories — for my baptism, which I had to work very hard to get to (my dad wouldn’t give permission till I saw a psychiatrist, to make sure I wasn’t being brainwashed,) I was given a beautiful white dress and allowed to wear my hair down for once (long hair, absent-minded girl… I was almost always in braids.) It took three times to get me, the dress, and the hair all under the water at the same time; my stepfather had only done one baptism before (my mom, who wore her hair bobbed and had on a jumpsuit) and didn’t even realize at first that something had gone wrong. For the third dunk, they had me holding my dress between my knees, and I think my hair was tucked into the dress collar. After that the family rule was braids and jumpsuits only.

    My sisters had other traumas; the next youngest wasn’t too bad, except that this was the first baptism in a new building, and it took all the adults forever to figure stuff out, which made the kids nervous. I think she finished in one dunk, mostly because we were super vigilant about the whole thing. But my stepdad messed up the confirmation part and had to start over.

    But our younest sister had it the worst: no one remembered to fill up the font for her. Since one of the families in the branch had a swimming pool, we went to their place, but it was late autumn, in Ohio, so the pool wasn’t exactly ready. As in, no one had swimmed in it in two months, except for the dead rats and roaches and birds that were floating in it (to say nothing of the bugs.) And it was about 55 degrees outside. She was a two-dunk girl, because the floaters freaked her out; she left the pool and sat wailing in a corner for about twenty minutes before we could get her back in. Right when my stepdad started on the words for the second time, it started raining. The whole rest of the time we lived there, people said that Satan was trying to keep her from being baptized; it’s been eight years now and the story still makes her weepy (and she refuses, to this day, to go swimming under any circumstances.)

  64. Jeremy, I especially loved your last sentence in parentheses. Although, it probably was pretty good “advice.”

    Oh, I thought of another funny story. Bill and I fight and bicker all the time. We annoy each other intensely and it’s a miracle we’ve stayed together 24 long years.

    But we especially fought hard the first few years we were married. One Sunday I wouldn’t even sit by him (this actually happened a lot that first year, my ward got used to it).

    Bill had the kids and little 3 year old Jessie kept waving and yelling, “hi Mommy.” Finally she came back and said, “don’t you want to sit with us?” And I picked her up and said, “why don’t you sit with me?” I was sweet to her and I wasn’t embarrassed because I was so mad (who knows why), but I think Bill felt pretty stupid.

  65. JA Benson says:

    I realize that this thread has died, but I remembered an embarrassing moment in our family when our oldest was almost three. It was January of 1991; and the US had invaded Kuwait to take it back from Iraq. My husband and I (like a lot of Americans) were glued to CNN essentially watching the war unfold on TV. We did not realize how much our little boy was paying attention to the TV. That next Sunday at Church during the Sacrament he stood up on the back pew and yelled in a clear loud voice, “My name is Saddam Hussein and I am a bad man.”

  66. Oh, I have another one. This is a true story. It’s not church, but oh well.

    Bill and I went to the movies. We sat in our customary place, aisle seats. A couple we knew came in and sat next to us and we visited cordially until the movie started.

    I had to go out for a few minutes during the movie and when I came back in, I snuggled in to my customary place under Bill’s arm, where I fit quite well, because he is so tall and muscular. He skootched away and I skootched closer. He turned his legs away from me and I put my head on his shoulder, thinking, “Bill, this is strange body language.”

    Then I watched the movie for awhile, all cuddled up to my honey. Then I looked next to me and the couple had moved. I thought, “I wonder if they were annoyed with us for some reason.” Then I noticed there was only one empty seat. Did Mike move, no, that’s not Caroline. Hmmm….wait, there are different people in front of me too.

    I sat rigidly up and turned to look at the complete stranger I was cuddled up to, only seconds before. He was looking back at me laughing.

    I think I gasped audibly as my eyes went wide and I got up and ran up and found Bill and buried my head in his arm as I laughed at myself for the rest of the movie.

    I asked him, “honey, didn’t you even notice I sat by another guy.” And he said, “well, yeah, but I thought you just wanted to get closer to the screen and I went back to the movie.”

    Just think what was going through that guy’s head. And why didn’t he even say, “who are you?”

  67. Kevin Barney says:

    Anne, this one reminded me of a time right after sacrament meeting, when people are still milling around talking. This woman from the ward came up to me and we talked for awhile, and as she was leaving she pats me on the fanny. Then she froze, her face red, and acknowledged that she had patted my behind. She said she is so used to doing that with her husband that she didn’t even think about it.

    Her embarrassment was only momentary, because I just laughed and didn’t make a big deal of it, and told her that we do that too and I barely even noticed (which was true). But for a moment there, I’m sure she was mortified.

  68. Sylvester Smith says:

    So, there was this one time in the Kirtland Temple when I stood up and recounted all the wonderful things I had experienced in the Church. I finished by saying how “everything I have seen and everything you have seen is the height of idiosyncretism,” meaning, you know, that these glories were peculiar to the Saints of the Last Days. Well, Brother Brigham thought I said “idiotism” and proceeded to damn me as a dog of hell. I should have been thicker skinned, but I was upset. I dare say so would you have been. Since this public humiliation I have become a byword for apostate. Truly, this makes me sad.

  69. Can you also tell us the one about Joseph’s dog, Sylvester?

  70. Sylvester Smith says:

    That dog was one mangy mutt. It deserved a good kicking.


  1. […] Adam Greenwood, perhaps feeling that he wouldn’t be reaching an adequate audience in at only one site, cross posted his thoughts on sin, apostasy, and knowledge to both T&S and M*. I am not sure that it is worth noting that he comes across as surprised that God speaks to the sinful and as certain that all leave the church do to personal sinfulness. Finally, that BCC sees no problem with the juxtaposition of this post with this post speaks for itself. […]

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