Stephanie Passing the Sacrament

You know how we’re creatures of habit and always sit in the same place at Church? My spot is the second from the last pew in the main section, right in the middle.

To my left sits the bishop’s family. Depending on how crowded it is, there is usually a gap of from six to eight feet between us.

They have a very cute six-year old daughter named Stephanie. I once substitute taught her Primary class, and she’s a strong-willed little girl. Actually, strong-willed doesn’t quite cover it; let’s say she has a will of iron.

So anyway, we usually sit close enough that when the sacrament comes (it always comes from their end of the row), the mom could reach over with the tray and I could reach out, maybe half standng, grab the handle and pull it close, and then take the sacrament while holding the tray myself.

Well, about six weeks ago, Stephanie decided she was going to carry the tray the few feet down the aisle to present it to me. She was insistent on this, and her mum, who is easy-going, let her.

So now it has become a regular routine. When her family finishes the sacrament, she takes the tray, walks the few feet between us with all the dignity you can imagine, and holds the tray for me. I could at that point just grab the tray the way most adults would, but I don’t. I let her stand there and serve me, as if she were a deacon herself (the non-technical meaning of deacon is “one who serves”). She holds the tray for me while I take the emblem with my right hand, partake, and only then do I take the tray from her with my right hand and then pass it down the line.

She then returns to her seat, as reverently and solemnly as can be.

Being served the emblems of the Last Supper each week with such reverence, dignity and solemnity by one of our Savior’s little ones has become one of the highlights of my worship experience.


  1. This made me cry.
    It’s really beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love the Stephanies of the world and all those who love them enough to give them the space they need to feel the Spirit.

  3. Beautiful, Kevin. Simply beautiful.

    Thank you for the wonderful picture of my own six-year-old daughter whom I envisioned while reading. She also has a will of iron, and she also insists on passing the tray to us. It truly is a little piece of heaven to watch.

  4. Kevin, I have a daughter named Stephanie. I’m sure you know what that name means in Greek. I thought of that meaning as I read your description of her standing there with “such reverence, dignity and solemnity.”

  5. gregeth says:

    This is really great to hear and how well it was handled. I’ve seen some wards where people get worked up over something so miniscule like this.

    BTW, anyone know why everyone seems to only pass with the right hand? I’ve always seen it in all my years in Church and figured it was some sort of tradition related to right handedness. When I pass it to other people on the pew I don’t really try to use one hand or the other (I know *gasp*).

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    BrianJ, I didn’t think of the import of the name in this context, but you’re right, that fits perfectly.

    gregeth, the right hand thing is sort of an old tradition. I think it has to do with the right hand being the “covenant” hand. So for example Isa. 41:10:

    “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

    The name Benjamin means “son of my right hand.”

    Cf. various aspects of the temple ritual.

    Elder Nelson talks about this kind of stuff sometimes in his talks.

  7. This is a beautiful story, and one I’m glad to read. But it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. I see girls passing the sacrament on their own row every Sunday, exactly the way you’ve described. If I were this girl’s mother, I wouldn’t care at all, and I’m not exactly the laid back type. This just seems like standard procedure.

  8. One of the things I like about the Sacrament in the LDS church is the communal aspect of it. Rather than go to the front to receive it from a priest, we pass it to one another. It brings us closer together as brothers and sisters.

  9. When I was in nam, on occasion we didn’t have water to drink, but we did have soda pop or beer. When it came time to bless the sacrament we used what we had, crackers and soda pop if needed. I never had to use beer, but I heard that those in short supply used it. It’s not what in the cup or who passes it that matters, it’s what is in your heart as you worship.

  10. Kevin Barney, as a father of three young daughters, I really, really loved your post. I alert to little things like this that can empower my daughters in a very male-empowering church culture.

    However, I think that probably 99.5% of the rest of your congregation sees absolutely nothing of import in Stephanie’s passing of the bread and water to you. And that makes me kinda sad.

    Do you agree?

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    Hunter, I’m sure you’re probably right that no one else even notices this little ritual every Sunday, but that doesn’t make me sad. Perhaps selfishly, I kind of like having it (almost) all to myself.

  12. I don’t think it’s solely the fact that Stephanie is a little girl that makes this story what it is. If it were a 6-year-old boy who was so solemnly careful and reverent and dignified, wouldn’t it be just as much a highlight?

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    I think it’s a combination of things. It’s how very young she is to be so interested in and care so much to do this service. It’s how adorable she looks doing it. It’s her iron-willed insistence that she be allowed to do it (one might have questioned her capacity to hold a tray full of filled water cups by herself, but there has been no problem). It’s the extremely dignified way in which she accomplishes it. It’s that, as a girl, she is having a sort of deacon-like experience now that she won’t have in a formal way as a teenager later. It’s that, because of the seating arrangement, I always manage to be the recipient of this gift. It’s the joy I feel in allowing her to serve me fully rather than truncating it by taking the tray prematurely from her hand. I suppose there are aspects to it I haven’t even managed to process; all I know is that it is precious to me.

  14. “If it were a 6-year-old boy … wouldn’t it be just as much a highlight?”

    Only if his name were Stephen. {smile}

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