An order for sacrament meeting to last one hour

The content is Mormon but the pattern is inspired by the Book of Common Prayer, which has been preparing people to receive the Lord’s Supper for 450 years. Scroll down for a version without the BCP headings (I have initially given the headings to show the order’s methodology). The intent is to place the sacrament in the centre of sacrament meeting, to bring greater focus to our prayers and talks, and to better offer due praise to God.


 

The Gathering

Prelude music is sung or played.

Announcements are given by the relevant quorum and auxiliary leaders.

The Greeting

The presiding officer greets the congregation.

Opening hymn.

Prayer of Preparation

Opening prayer asking for God’s spirit to be outpoured on the meeting.

Prayers of Penitence/Gloria in Excelsis

The presiding officer briefly reminds the congregation of the purpose of sacrament meeting: to reflect on our failings, to seek God’s forgiveness, to worship God, and to be renewed in our faith.

The Collect

A ward officer offers a short talk on the Sunday School theme for the day (~5 minutes).


 

The Liturgy of the Word

Readings/Gospel Reading

The readers are asked to read three scriptures — one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and one from modern scripture — to match the Sunday School theme of the day.

Sermon/The Creed

A short talk from a member of the congregation on the theme of the day (~10 minutes).

Prayers of Intercession

A member of the congregation prays for the leaders of the church, for our government and society, for the local community, and for those who suffer (by name).


 

The Liturgy of the Sacrament

The Peace

The sacrament hymn is sung.

Preparation of the Table

While the sacrament hymn is sung, the Aaronic Priesthood and young women prepare the sacrament table.

The Eucharistic Prayer/Breaking of the Bread/Giving of Communion

The sacrament prayers are said and the sacrament is passed to the congregation.

The Lord’s Prayer/Prayer after Communion

A hymn of praise.


The Dismissal

Ward business is conducted.

Final hymn.

Closing prayer thanking God for our blessings.

Organ voluntary as the sacrament table is cleared by the Aaronic Priesthood and young women.


Without the BCP headings:

  • Prelude music is sung or played.
  • Announcements are given by the relevant quorum and auxiliary leaders.
  • The presiding officer greets the congregation.
  • Opening hymn.
  • Opening prayer asking for God’s spirit to be outpoured on the meeting.
  • The presiding officer briefly reminds the congregation of the purpose of sacrament meeting: to reflect on our failings, to seek God’s forgiveness, and to be renewed in our faith.
  • A ward officer offers a short talk on the Sunday School theme for the day.
  • The readers are asked to read three scriptures — one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and one from modern scripture — to match the Sunday School theme of the day.
  • A short talk from a member of the congregation on the theme of the day.
  • A member of the congregation prays for the leaders of the church, for our government and society, for the local community, and for those who suffer (by name).
  • Sacrament hymn.
  • While the sacrament hymn is sung, the Aaronic Priesthood and young women prepare the sacrament table.
  • The sacrament prayers are said and the sacrament is passed to the congregation.
  • Third hymn.
  • Ward business.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer thanking God for our blessings.
  • Postlude music as the sacrament table is cleared by the Aaronic Priesthood and young women.

 

Comments

  1. Wouldn’t that be lovely. Too bad they aren’t taking suggestions.

  2. CalleyHalley says:

    Goodness, I might even go to that!
    We’re gonna need some more hymns though…

  3. Tweaked and with added de-Anglicanized version for those who pronounce “collect” wrong.

  4. Lovely. More worshipful. The addition of the intercessory prayer is wonderful. If only.

  5. All announcements should be at the end of a worship service, not at the beginning.

  6. The worship service begins with the greeting.

  7. But yes, they could be right at the end.

    I have moved the business until after the sacrament as it represent the tangible manifestation of the Christian discipleship encouraged by the ritual itself.

  8. Mephibosheth says:

    I really like what you’ve done here, I think you succeed in making the sacrament the focus of the meeting, but hearing people sermonize for more than 5 minutes at a time is one of my favorite things about the church and something I would dearly miss.

  9. I move that we accept this outline as our new official procedure. Would anyone second the motion?

  10. The announcements are with you.
    And also with you.

    We fold up the chairs.
    We fold them up for the Lord.

  11. Sidebottom says:

    Readings: #ponderize

  12. At what point during the service do I get to prepare my gospel doctrine lesson / crossword puzzles?

    Better to have announcements before the meeting and miss the families who show up late (every week) than yelling them afterwards over the chaos of primary kids anxious to escape.

  13. “The presiding officer briefly reminds the congregation of the purpose of sacrament meeting: to reflect on our failings, to seek God’s forgiveness, and to be renewed in our faith.”

    Our bishopric has started doing this just before the sacrament hymn, offering a scripture or thought to consider while meditating during the sacrament time. I really like it.

  14. Mep, there are some spare minutes. You can push one sermon to 10 minutes!

  15. You forgot that as part of, I think it’s the Peace, that we get kid and adult wiggle time, where we hug each other, express delight to see one another, and everyone on the stand gets to at least hug their spouse/child/date/favorite class member.

  16. I really wanted to include that but I think Mormons couldn’t cope with it.

  17. cookie queen says:

    Chance would be a fine thing. I need 5 minutes to distribute leftover cookies.

  18. Aye.

  19. Love it. Getting people to give a talk (not read a set text) for 5 minutes is a real challenge. Everyone claims to hate public speaking while also speaking for longer than they judge themselves to speak.

  20. Oh if only – a meeting that actually focuses on the Sacrament! Too bad it will never be considered because then we’ll be too much like those “other” churches. Next thing we’d be agitating for choir robes or some other protestant evil.

  21. The Mormon sign of peace–the handshake–is already well established, we’d just have to work on the timing.

  22. The above is not so radical, actually, but is, of course, still a fantasy. Here’s one small proposal that would make a huge difference:

    Make the sacrament ritual LAST in the meeting so that it is anticipated rather than merely appended.

  23. A great plan! I’d offer one suggestions, though.

    Skip the announcements. Put them all in a printed program, or email them to the members.

    And, to Cat’s complaint: who are the “they” who aren’t taking suggestions? The handbook sets for the purposes for sacrament meetings: “Partake of the sacrament, worship, provide gospel instruction, perform ordinances, conduct ward business, and strengthen faith and testimony.” And it also repeats the scriptural standard that leaders are charged to follow: “Leaders plan and conduct meetings ‘as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God’ (D&C 20:45; see also Moroni 6:9; D&C 46:2).”

    So, if sacrament meetings follow an all-too-predictable pattern, perhaps it’s because riding along in the rut of tradition is easier than actually using one’s imagination and seeking to be led by the Holy Ghost.

  24. eponymous says:

    Mark, there’s a pretty clear outline of how Sacrament meeting is supposed to be conducted. It’s explicitly spelled out in Handbook 2 and fairly closely to what is experienced in Mormon chapels every Sunday.

    https://www.lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church/meetings-in-the-church?lang=eng#18.2.2

    But I suspect you already knew that…

  25. eponymous says:

    That said, I much prefer Ronan’s approach. I think we would do much better if someone was assigned to the liturgy committee as I once experienced in a Ward out East. Those on the committee had the sole calling of coming up with the themes, music and speakers for each sacrament meeting. A great deal of latitude was given to them in the structure.

    As for timing of the sacrament vs announcements we recently discussed this in High Council and the view was that everything that follows the sacrament should be spiritually uplifting as the sacrament is intended to prepare us spiritually to receive new insights from the Lord. At which point I rolled my eyes and muttered under my breath, yes then perhaps we should reexamine the idea of assigning conference talks to be restated by High Council speakers and encourage Bishops not to feel the need to get up and spend 10 minutes speaking extemporaneously when the last speaker runs short.

  26. It’s a “sample,” eponymous. The handbook clearly marks it as a sample.

  27. I think it would feel much more Mormon to me if we did the releasing and sustainings (callings and new ward members) and baby blessings and confirmations and notification of awards/moving up for youth at the beginning. Then, when the ward is up to date (correctly greeted), we can all proceed together to the sacrament table.

    Can we do that after an opening prayer, without hurting the rest of the structure?

  28. A Happy Hubby says:

    Que in John Lennon’s “Imagine”!

  29. Sine November, I’ve been attending a nondenominational service run by two priests of the Episcopal and Anglican traditions. It follows a format like this. It took me a some time to grok the system, but I find the progression from each step to the next very spiritually nourishing. The content of each step is usually also excellent, which helps. But I’ve found the form itself to be important. There’s a reason it’s been around for 450 years I suppose! I would love to see something like this in our services.

  30. Martin James says:

    One disadvantage of people leaving the church is now all that is left are the liturgy people and the Jesus freaks.
    Why not make it more like required classes and electives?
    Right now you have sacrament, scripture study, talks and testimonies, hymn singing, prayer, welfare and priesthood. We could get some element of choice involved and reduce the time required. It seems to me that there is too much overhead from prayers and hymns and a lesson in Sunday school and at priesthood meetings combined with too many talks at Sacrament meeting.
    Why not have a prayer, hymn, sacrament as its own piece and just that. Then you could scripture study/lesson that alternates weeks between joint and separate meetings with breakouts for separate interests, then a service/welfare meeting that also alternates also. Then there would be time for socializing also. More efficient and more choice. As Nan, pointed out to me, if you want liturgy go the the catholics or some other dying church.

  31. A wonderful, wonderful dream, Ronan. “Are there others?”

  32. AussieMormon says:

    I’m not sure that doubling up on content that will be discussed in Sunday School is a good use of time. It’s almost certain that the same scriptures will be read again in class, and there’s a good chance that the talk on it will cover the rest of the content from the Sunday School class.
    The content of the middle prayer already happens, but in the two bracketing prayers for the sacrament meeting.
    Finally, like Mephibosheth, I’d miss the gems that can come out of longer talks (yes, even the 20minute ones) by the members.
    Ignoring all that though, a instant “blocker” for this being implemented as is, is that the handbook (HB2: 20.4) is pretty explicit that priesthood holders prepare the sacrament (no young women involvement).

  33. The Anglican and Episcopal services, however esthetically appealing, seem to be attracting fewer and fewer attendees. See

    https://juicyecumenism.com/2015/10/09/episcopalians-continue-bleeding-members-attendance-at-alarming-rate/

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/12095251/Church-of-England-attendance-plunges-to-record-low.html

    Sad to see, actually.

  34. I like it.

    I wouldn’t mind a 20-minute sermon, personally, as long as there were only one of them.

  35. Love love love. Boy do I dislike our services. I am an active, committed, devoted church member who attends every week and loves the gospel of Jesus Christ. I go every Sunday because I am supposed to, but I do not find myself spiritually filled and much of that worship and spiritual fulfillment I crave every week basically only happens “on my own dime” after church on Sunday afternoons. I would love a more interactive and interesting service. I particularly love the extra reminder about the purposes of the sacrament, but I also like the idea of connecting our services to the themes of the Sunday School and I think more music would be incredibly helpful. I hardly need mention that I never invite nonmembers to our Sunday worship services because I find them so uninspiring that I wouldn’t want to inflict them on others. Maybe a different format would help.

  36. > I find them so uninspiring that I wouldn’t want to inflict them on others.

    Therein lies a major reason why Mormons don’t invite their friends to church,

  37. As a Church, we need to make our Sacrament Meetings more worshipful and spiritually edifying. It is embarrassing to bring investigators to Church and see the meeting conducted like a business meeting. Too often speakers say nothing about the Savior. Their talks seem more like a Pharisaic lecture about rule-keeping. Elder Bednar, when he was a bishop, never had a meeting in which talks did not reflect the Atonement in some way. What a difference that would make in the spirit of our meetings.

    Announcements at the end of the meeting is a great idea. Most can be emailed or put on the program, but important last-minute announcements still come forward.

    When I was a teen-ager, our bishop always prepared us for the Sacrament with a sincere, humble reminder of its importance. Your suggestion is superb.

    Thanks for the great suggestions. This would definitely enhance the spirit of our Sacrament meetings and allow members and investigators to recognize that we are the Church of Jesus Christ and not the Church or Joseph Smith.

  38. I recently attended an Episcopalian mass and fell in love with their services. I’d love to attend a meeting like this!

  39. Nobody ever listens to announcements. Or remembers them. And almost nothing is so important or time-sensitive that it needs to be announced in sacrament meeting. Unless it’s “Today Sunday School’s Gospel Principles class will be meeting at the Starbucks on Sackett Street.”

  40. “Tweaked and with added de-Anglicanized version for those who pronounce ‘collect’ wrong.”

    Wait, how is it pronounced? Have I been pronouncing it wrong all this time?! Is it not like the verb (ie, to collect things)?

  41. RJH: “Tweaked and with added de-Anglicanized version for those who pronounce ‘collect’ wrong.”

    Wait, how is it pronounced? Have I been pronouncing it wrong all this time?! Is it not like the verb (ie, to collect things)?

  42. COLL-ect.

  43. fuddyduddy says:

    wait, COLL-ect? Like with a long O (as in “oh my”)?

  44. No. Rhymes with DOLL.

  45. This doesn’t sound any more enjoyable than the current format. It would still be a tough sell to my teenagers and young adults. Don’t see any appeal for kids. Scripture passages taken out of context is not my favorite. Why quote the Old Testament each week? Few understand it’s purpose and meaning and Psalms isn’t that long. Do we get to go home after the hour? Why doesn’t someone figure out how to convince the Church to stop translating the current hymnal and work on a new one that includes some really fun melodies. Baby steps.

  46. I’m not sure why a change like this seems so impossible to so many.

    The Church has recently emphasized Sunday worship and asked ward councils to think about what could be done to improve it. I know in our ward we have made some changes — moved the announcements to after the closing prayer, asked the organist to play an additional verse of the sacrament hymn (not sung) to help members get into the mood. And since the Church continues to emphasize this subject, i think further changes are likely.

    To be honest, one of the most spiritual aspects of something like this is simply that it is DIFFERENT from what is normally done. I’m certain that often change can invite the spirit.