The 60-Minute Sacrament Meeting: An opportunity to build a new Christ-centered worship service.

The change about two-hour church that has attracted the most attention is the elimination of the “third hour” and the alternating classes for the “second hour.” Kevin’s post yesterday discusses some of the logistics of these changes. But as I’ve read through the October 6, 2018 first presidency letter and enclosure, one part that has caught my attention is the potential to use this change to radically re-work sacrament meetings.

The enclosure with the October 6  letter announcing the change says this:

2. What is the format for sacrament meetings?

Sacrament meetings last 60 minutes and are focused on deepening conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthening faith in Them. Allowing the ordinance of the sacrament to be the sacred center of members’ worship on the Sabbath requires careful planning, including minimal announcements and consideration of speakers, hymns, and musical numbers. Ward choirs may participate as local circumstances allow. Sacrament meetings begin and end with a hymn and prayer. A hymn also precedes the blessing of the sacrament.

This is easy to gloss over, but it raises three important points.

A Focus on Deepening Conversion through Strengthened Faith in Christ

I particularly appreciate the statement from the first presidency that the focus of sacrament meeting is to “deepen[] conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen[] faith in them.” In some wards, this might be happening already, but in many wards in the church, this refocusing could be a substantial change. I think we could use the reminder that the purpose of sacrament meeting is not to be instructed on various doctrines or exhorted to obey the commandments or follow the prophet or any of the other good things we are regularly encouraged to do at church, but to increase faith in Christ and conversion to him.

I also appreciate that the focus is not on testimony, but conversion. We sometimes speak of conversion as though it were conversion to the church, rather than to Christ, and in doing so, we speak of conversion as though it were synonymous with a testimony of the church. But the message of conversion from the Book of Mormon is not about being committed to the institution of the church, as admirable as it may be to be committed to the institution; it is about being converted–this is, changed–by Jesus through faith in him (see, e.g., 1 Nephi 12:10; Mosiah 5:7, Mosiah 27:25-27).

This emphasis on personal conversion through faith in Christ is consistent with President Nelson’s recent efforts to emphasize the church’s name. As I said during conference, I confess that I still don’t fully get the name thing. I don’t understand how the word “Mormon” offends God or represents a victory for Satan. But I am highly enthusiastic about the increased emphasis on the meaning and the importance of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ. If we could have church meetings that actually focus every week on what it means to receive grace, be born again, and become new creatures in Christ, his sons and his daughters, I would happily trade that for “Mormon” and “LDS.”

Making the Sacrament the Center of Sabbath Worship

The second point is that the sacrament should be “the sacred center of members’ worship on the Sabbath,” and that sacrament meetings should be planned to make that true. And really, this emphasis on the sacrament fits with the first purpose, to deepen conversion through faith in Christ, because the whole point of the sacrament is to pledge our faith in Christ, that is, our willingness to follow Jesus, so we can receive his grace, that is, his spirit to be with us.

To say that we believe the sacrament should be the center of Sunday worship is old news, but rarely, in my experience, do the structure and focus of meetings reflect that belief. How many sacrament meetings have you sat through where the sacrament is treated almost more like one of the announcements and other things we have to take care of at the beginning of the meeting before we can move on to the real business of listening to sermons? When I’ve been in a position to have input on sacrament meeting planning, I’ve tried to advocate more talks about the sacrament itself and it’s meaning. I’ve even suggested a few times that every sacrament talk should be about the sacrament itself in some way, or at least about the atonement and the death and resurrection of Jesus. I’ve usually been overruled, because there’s a feeling that we need to have more talks that focus exclusively on tithing or missionary work or whatever was said at the last general conference. And I appreciate that, but I feel like if we can’t find a way to connect it directly back to the sacrament, then as good and praiseworthy as it is, it’s not really appropriate for sacrament meeting. I appreciate that the first presidency is emphasizing that we should not just individually make the sacrament the center of our Sunday worship, but that our meetings should be planned to reflect that.

Few Absolute Requirements for Sacrament Meeting

In the context of making the sacrament the center of worship, the first presidency emphasizes minimizing announcements and careful planning of talks, hymns, and musical numbers. It explicitly notes ward choirs may participate, that the meeting opens and closes with a hymn and a prayer, and that a hymn precedes the sacrament. Kevin reads this to perhaps eliminate the “intermediate” hymn or “rest” hymn that often comes between talks. And some local leaders might read it this way, but I’m not so sure. I read this as a floor on hymns, not a ceiling. I read this as the first presidency telling Bishops, essentially, “look, you can’t get rid of the sacrament hymn, or the opening and closing hymn, but other than that, feel free to mix it up with talks, hymns, and musical numbers to find something that emphasizes the sacrament as the center of worship and that emphasizes personal conversion through strengthened faith in Christ.

This seems to fit with an overall recent pattern of simplification, trimming, less centralization, and more local adaptation. It remains to be seen how far that trend will go, and where the new balance will be struck between centralized correlation and local autonomy, but I think the correlation pendulum has perhaps begun to swing the other way, or at least has stopped accelerating. If nothing else, the recent changes have emphasized that the way we do things because of tradition and accretion is not a sacred cow that cannot be changed. So (within some limits) the traditional format does not need to be preserved if it is not properly emphasizing the importance of the sacrament and of personal conversion through faith in Christ. This might be a good opportunity to emphasize one of the few statements the Book of Mormon contains on the institutional church after the coming of Christ, Moroni 6, especially verse 9, which talks about church meetings:

[T]heir meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.

Conclusion

Such a change would not only better provide the spiritual nourishment and fulfillment that church members need, it would make our meetings much more effective as a space for non-members or inactive members to experience the presence of the spirit and become converted. In fact, the first presidency seems to at least implicitly acknowledge this in its October 10, 2018 letter announcing that on the Sunday before Christmas no class meetings will be held. The church has done this before, but as far as I can remember, this is the first time they have, while doing so, specifically encouraged members to invite non-members and inactive members to church on that day in particular. Why? “Because this particular sacrament meeting has traditionally focused on the birth, life, and mission of the Savior.”

I hope that local leaders will take note of this new (or renewed) emphasis on Christ-centered conversion and faith as the theme for all sacrament meetings, and will take advantage of this new logistical change as an opportunity to change (perhaps radically change) the structure and content of our sacrament meetings to more fully make it a Christ-centered worship meeting that focuses on conversion through faith in Christ.

 

Comments

  1. Jack of Hearts says:

    “How many sacrament meetings have you sat through where the sacrament is treated almost more like one of the announcements and other things we have to take care of at the beginning of the meeting before we can move on to the real business of listening to sermons?”

    Precisely. I wonder if there will be enough latitude for localities (or a directive from Salt Lake) to move the sacrament (closer) to the end of the meeting. Last I checked, the handbook has what it calls a “sample agenda” for sacrament meeting with “gospel messages” following the administration of the sacrament. Calling it a “sample agenda” seems to me to leave the door open for local innovation (like, say, moving those gospel messages in front of the sacrament), but everywhere I’ve lived it seems to have been understood as prescriptive. I think it’s much easier to have talks on any old subject after the sacrament has already been taken; if the sermons had to precede it, we might have more success focusing our preaching on what we say is the purpose for our meeting together. (Incidentally, I suspect this could also noticeably lower the number of people who speak past their allotted time.) I recognize this would come with its own set of difficulties, but I think it’s worth at least exploring and maybe now we could have the chance.

  2. Sidebottom says:

    A few years back we had a Seventy in a leadership meeting say explicitly that Latter-day Saints had lost the art of conducting sacrament meeting by the Spirit. There were suggestions for improvement in the written materials that followed, but absolutely zero attempt at implementation.

  3. I’ll note that I don’t think conducting a meeting by the spirit necessarily means not having a plan. But I do think it means having a plan that was prepared thoughtfully and not just because that’s the way we always do it.

  4. nobody, really says:

    I have been really frustrated with “topics”. In one ward, somebody came up with a list of 48 or so topics for Sacrament meeting, put them in an order, and for years they just went to the next item on the list each week. That’s how you get a meeting on Easter Sunday where the topic is “Church Welfare”.

    Now, instead of a “youth” talk on the same topic as everything else, we have a Parable Talk. It doesn’t have to fit the topic of the other two talks – it just needs to be something about Jesus in each meeting with talks. I have to say that it has made meetings a lot more productive, and it helps to set the tone for the other talks. It can be given by a youth, but it can also be given by a recent convert, a newly re-activated person, an adult, a Primary child, or even a member of the Bishopric.

    In a Catholic Mass, the Eucharist typically comes last, just before the end of the service. This is specific strategy to have everything lead to and peak with accepting the Body of Christ. In LDS meetings, I’ve only seen the Sacrament come last once, and that was when nobody brought the bread and somebody had to make a 20-minute drive home to get some.

  5. “But the message of conversion from the Book of Mormon is not about being committed to the institution of the church,……it is about being converted–this is, changed–by Jesus through faith in him”
    That should be the central focus of all that we do, shouldn’t it? I appreciate your thoughts and post. I, personally, am excited about the possibilities. I know we get sidetracked by many other things that we feel Sacrament Meetings should be……but I appreciate the call to refocus on conversion. I felt good about the message from General Conference regarding this.

  6. Good point, nobody, really. Whatever other criticisms you might have against the mass, there’s no question that the entire liturgy of the mass is structured around centering the sacrament as the focal point of worship.

  7. I also hope it will encourage Easter and Christmas centered programs. I know so many wards that it’s just another Sunday. If General Conference doesn’t fall on Easter, wards often just fill in with tithing or Missionary reports.

  8. “That should be the central focus of all that we do, shouldn’t it?”
    YES!

  9. Great point, cat. I could understand it (though I would still disagree with it) if it were some kind of reaction against high-hhurch liturgicalism, but it’s not like the church has the slightest problem with celebrating Easter or Christmas, so it’s not like not having Easter-centered or Chrsitmas-centered services is a product of convictions; it just comes across as cluelessness.

  10. For most of my life, the Sunday preceding Christmas and Easter Sunday have involved some kind of a program (or at least a couple of choir numbers and related talks). Is not having an Easter or Christmas themed meeting the norm in some parts of the Church?

  11. Two questions I’ve been wondering about:

    Will a member of the presidency of RS and YW continue to teach one lesson a month? If so, that means RS teachers/YW advisors would only teach once a month (which is of course already the case in RS). Would you really need an advisor calling where their only job is to teach once a month (of course they come to activities sometimes too)? Will there only be one RS teacher called (if a member of the presidency teaches the other lesson each month)? It’s hard to imagine a need for more than one RS teacher, if they’d only be teaching every other month.

    Second, what will Primary presidencies do during the last 25 minutes of class? Sit in on a class? Have a presidency meeting? Chill?

    I’m in the YW presidency right now and I have to say first meeting together as a group will be missed. The girls like to interact. And even as a convert, who is cynical about a great many things, I’ll actually miss saying the theme — I enjoy it.

  12. Ooops, my apologies, I meant to post that on the post about 2-hour church.

  13. @JKC @sidebottom

    I remember a similar talk by a 70, though this must have been a decade of so ago. Part of the way our bishop interpreted the counsel was to ask Sacrament meeting speakers to pray about what topic to speak about and to decide on it for themselves (again through the Spirit). I thought the idea was fantastic and it really improved our ward’s talks and meetings.

  14. Lots of good things, but this will be the death of Mormon hymnody, which is heartbreaking.

  15. dsc – Not having a Christmas theme or Easter theme Sacrament meeting happens far too often. Yes we may sing an extra hymn, but the speakers are often assigned a topic and things roll along like any other Sunday. In my memory we have discussed it hear before. It breaks my heart when it happens.

  16. Kristine: Why? Is the thought that we’re still going to try to cram 2-3 talks into an hour so we’ll cut back on hymns? That’s not implausible. But maybe we’ll realize that you can’t give 2 good talks in an hour-long sacrament meeting, so maybe we’d have even more time for hymns.

  17. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a ward that didn’t have a Christmas-themed sacrament meeting (though there’s a wide spectrum ranging from all scripture readings and carols to just a normal meeting with a couple speakers that speak on Christmas). I’ve been in wards that did not do an Easter-themed sacrament meeting some years.

    But I’ve never been in a ward that did not do a big production for mothers day. Go figure.

  18. True JKC Christmas does sometimes come in a standard form of two talks based on Samuel the Lamanite’s Prophecy about Jesus (I don’t find that particularly Christmasy and it doesn’t do much for non-members). I love the Christmas Contada type deals. Easter though I can’t count the times that’s been co-opted in at least one talk. And mothers day – a totally nasty mess no matter what anyone does or doesn’t do.

  19. Dang I wish we could edit our posts. I meant “cantada”. Typing too fast. Thinking too little.

  20. It has been ten years since I’ve been in a ward that did rest hymns or musical numbers on a regular basis. I guess they just don’t like music.

    When ward Conference came around they used to call the best musician in the ward the day before so that there would be a musical number in sacrament meeting.

    When the stake presidency encouraged wards to do rest hymns or musical numbers every week they started putting rest hymns on the agenda, but if the meeting is running on schedule they skip it. This happens almost every week.

    One week they had a young woman prepare a musical number on the piano then didn’t let her perform it because schedule. (If you are ever conducting a meeting, DO NOT DO THIS EVER TO A SPECIAL NUMBER, it would be better to forgo the closing hymn then to disregard the preparation of the musician.)

    The stake president encouraged the us to sing all the verses of the hymn in Priesthood opening exercises, and they actually took his advice… for maybe three weeks.

    So I’m with Kristine: at least in my ward, every possible step will be taken to reduce music.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    I love to sing, so I hope you’re right about the interim hymns in sacrament meetings. The document didn’t expressly do away with them, but simply not mentioning them at all may, I suspect, lead some bishops to interpret that as interim hymns no longer being a thing. I guess we’ll have to see how it plays out.

    I don’t recall ever sitting through a Christmas service that was not actually devoted in some way to Christmas, but we’ve whiffed on Easter many times, which I’ve usually interpreted as someone trying to be a little too organized at the beginning of the year and filling all of the topics for the whole year on a calendar. Since Easter moves on our calendar, in such a situation people sometimes forget to look for it and make sure it is planned for appropriately.

    Once a long time ago the bishopric asked me to plan the Christmas service. I went a little high church with it: I complied maybe a half-dozen significant scripture readings, and in between we just had music (choirs, groups, congregation). There was no “talk” at all. I was the scripture narrator, and I went even further with it: I decided to memorize all the scriptures so I could maintain eye contact with the congregation. In total it amounted to about 120 verses, and it took me like three months to memorize all of that (mostly while commuting in my car). But, even if I do say so myself, the result was stunning. Everyone loved the program. So much so that they kept using it for like the next three years (I was no longer the narrator so nobody actually memorized the scriptural texts anymore), until they finally went a different direction. That was maybe 20, 25 years ago, but I still remember it fondly.

  22. About as many years ago, when I was a ward YW President, I asked the Bishop if the YW could do the Christmas Sacrament Meeting. They sang, played musical numbers, read scriptures and passages about Christmas. The ward was invited into selected hymns. It was wonderful. Though mine wasn’t repeated. People still tell me they remember it fondly. And that ward has been divided and diced up 7 different ways. I take it as a mark of holiness that people still remember it. (I am happy if and when anyone creates and shares programs like that. I believe we as a community are thirsting for them.)

  23. One of the most memorable sacrament meetings I’ve attended was when the Bishop decided to devote it to the sacrament. He had a couple of talks on the meaning and importance of the sacrament. And the sacrament was passed at the tail end of the meeting. The reverance during the whole meeting was remarkable.

  24. Rich Harshaw says:

    I have an honest question that will probably come off sounding jerky… but I promise you that the question is being asked sincerely. I’ll ask it after a bit of a wind-up:

    First of all, I 100% agree with this article, as well as the church statement referenced in the article. I feel like a big part of what President Nelson is trying to do is get the focus off the church… off the prophets… off of everything… and to focus on the Savior, and by extension, developing Christlike attributes on the individual and family levels. The shift to ministering, the re-emphasis on the full name of the church, and shorter church are the 3 most noticeable changes in this direction. Even a cursory listening to the most recent conference shows that the Apostles are speaking more and more about coming to Christ. President Nelson’s emphasis on this topic goes back many, many years.

    All of that to say, I love this emphasis and agree with this article!

    I have noticed that readers of this website have often voiced concern about the lack of Christ-centered-ness in the Church… and the comments in this thread would seem to confirm that. I have read many comments here over the years stating that there is too much focus on the church, on the commandments, on the prophets, on protocols, etc. etc. and not enough on Christ. And this post plants that flag even deeper, and appropriately so. I don’t know if a majority of BCC readers believe this and agree with this or not. It SEEMS like they do.

    So here is the question: If BCC readers crave a more Christ-centered church, then why do they seem to spend so much time nitpicking every last thing that they perceive is wrong with the church? Examples include recent articles (and accompanying comments) about not necessarily supporting the prophet with the name change/emphasis… as well as the social media fast; tons of criticism about the nature of the women’s meeting during conference; dissection of a Facebook post by Elder Holland; taking offense to analogies of boats and oceans, etc.

    In fact, on the post about boats and oceans, I made several comments about the need to extend grace to the church for it’s real or perceived faults and instead focus on Christ–look to the Savior to save, not the church. Many people treated my comments with grace; others did not.

    I get it that people come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and experiences. And I get it that there is always room to improve things. But it seems like focusing on Christ–during Sacrament meeting, in personal study/prayer, while listening to conference, etc.–would quell the overwhelming majority of concerns and eliminate a lot of what I perceive to be a lot of bitterness and anger.

    I guess what I am asking is: Isn’t a Christ-centered focus the solution to all of these issues?

  25. Kristine, Rockwell, and Kevin: the loss of hymn-singing is really sad. I hope it doesn’t go that way. Our ward is near the Eastman School so we’re blessed to have a lot of talent in our area, and we have a pretty strong musical tradition. Church music is such an important part of the restoration and of the world it came out of. It would be very sad to lose it.

    Kevin and cat: We’ve had that kind of Christmas service at least a handful of times. Sometimes complete with a brass quartet, but always with at least some kind of special instruments. It is wonderful.

    cloves: that sounds great. I would love to see more of that.

    Rich: I don’t know what to tell you. I think you may be painting all BCC bloggers with the same broad brush. Yes we have some things in common, but we’re not a monolith. Sam noted on his post about how to approach President Nelson’s emphasis on the church’s formal name that we don’t all reach the same conclusion on that issue, for example. (I admit I’m a little curious about what you found objectionable about my social media fast post, but maybe that discussion is better had in the comments on that post than here.) I think some of what you perceive as nitpicking is more the result of taking the brethren’s words seriously and a desire to see the church succeed in its mission and not see the church inadvertently shoot itself in the foot, so to speak, and distract people from the message it is trying to communicate, than of a desire to criticize. I’m sorry that some commenters didn’t treat your comments with more grace. But to answer your question, yes, I think most of us would probably agree that more Christ-centeredness in the church would go a long way to fixing whatever exists that might hinder the church from effectively reaching everyone.

  26. I think 2-hour church is a move in the right direction towards the ideal of 0-hour church. I’m really looking forward to THAT revelation.

  27. Rich – thank you for reminding us that we, too, have room to grow. I really do appreciate it. (This is not a mocking reply.)

  28. Rich Harshaw says:

    Thanks for your reply JKC. You seem like an earnest person who is trying to encourage readers to put thought into things but still keep focused on Christ. I didn’t agree with your stance on the name change/emphasis, but I thought you handled it without unduly criticizing the church. I also thought you did an exceptional job of steering the comments in a positive direction.(Note: I get it that there are some people who want to criticize the church about certain topics; doing so because of the name they want to be called probably isn’t one of those topics.).

    I do understand that not everyone on this site is a big, homogeneous group. That being said, it is a little discouraging to see so many articles written, and so many people dog-pile on in the comments, on issues that seem to be strictly church related and zero percent Christ related. Creating a church that makes everyone even 90% satisfied (in terms of policies, emphasis, doctrine, culture, etc) is 100% impossible. But so many people seem to think that remaking the church to their personal liking is of utmost importance… when in reality it is just sucking the virtue out of them, and us. Is there room on this blog for uplifting articles that support the church and support Christ-centered living/worship/study? Or is it strictly (or at least, mostly) just geared toward the disaffected, disenfranchised, and dissatisfied? I was super encouraged by your article (this one that I commented on), but it does seem to be the exception in terms of being uplifting, inspiring, and supportive.

    Maybe I just need to find another place to hang out.

  29. I wrote a post a couple years ago where I proposed a 50 min sacrament meeting with more singing, less talking, and sacrament at the end. Unfortunately, no one cares what I think. It’s hard to imagine many people thinking they have permission to structure sacrament meeting differently from the sample format Salt Lake has provided. And most people will probably cut the “extra” music rather than have fewer speakers (or shorter talks).

  30. Rich: “Is there room on this blog for uplifting articles that support the church and support Christ-centered living/worship/study?”

    All the time. Besides all the posts taking the Church and its culture seriously, if you look down the page, there are Jason K’s thoughts on the Sunday School lesson “Beside Me There Is No Saviour,” Michael Austin on “Misreading Scriptures the Right Way,” Keira talking about her new memoir about brokenness and healing, Ashmae taking a serious look at one of the New Testament stories about Jesus, Michael Austin on “The Glory of Zion Will Be a Defense,” Kaylee’s acrostic about Proverbs, and so on back through the years. These posts don’t get the most discussion, but they are a major feature of the blog.

  31. It’s really hard, Rebecca, to do something different in sacrament meeting. Last year on Palm Sunday in our YSA Branch, we had a sort of combined Palm Sunday/Good Friday service (since we weren’t going to get people to come to church on Friday, after all). As part of the service, we read the 51st Psalm responsively (the reader at the pulpit would read one line, the congregation would respond with the next–all set out conveniently in the program). And it went really well, except for the out-of-town visitors who happened to show up in our branch that day. They had serious “this isn’t the way we Mormons do church” frowns on their faces, which sort of took the edge off the experience. I suspect that they were already upset that we didn’t have anybody “conducting” the meeting and announcing when all the activities were going to happen, etc., etc., but the congregation participation part really pushed them over the edge.

  32. Rich, what Anon said. We’ve got a lot of content here that I think a reasonable person would classify as uplifting and supportive. If what’s on the front page isn’t doing it for you at a given moment, we’ve got a ton of really good, inspiring, uplifting and supportive content. I would not say that BCC is strictly or even mostly geared toward the disaffected, disenfranchised and dissatisfied. We don’t really shy away from issues that make the church hard for some folks, but I think our goal is to give people a place where they can think about those things in a constructive way that allows them not to give up on the church. While I don’t think we’re a place to be recklessly critical of the church I do understand that sometimes folks vent about those things that make the church hard. A little venting can be healthy sometimes, but that’s not for everybody all the time. Sometimes it’s not for me. Feel free to skip those posts, but I hope you don’t feel unwelcome.

  33. Rebeeca, less music and squeezing the same amount of speaking into a smaller meeting is kind of a depressing thought that I hope doesn’t come to pass. You’re probably right that it will happen at least in some places, but I hope it doesn’t become the norm.

    Mark B: I’m all for mixing it up, and that sounds like a good meeting. But I confess that a full-on congregational call-and-response would probably be beyond what I’d feel comfortable proposing if I were helping to plan a sacrament meeting. I mean, I’ve been in meetings like that as a visitor in other churches, but as I understood it, asking for congregational participation was off-limits in Latter-day Saint worship services. Not that that stops speakers from asking the congregation to turn to a certain scripture or whatever, but according to the handbook we’re not supposed to do it.

  34. JKC: We decided that we would just treat it like a hymn, without music. After all, there are a lot of monotones in nearly every ward. : ) I don’t have access to Handbook I anymore, and I was never particularly good at studying it, but I don’t recall a specific prohibition. (I have a vague recollection that sacrament meeting talks weren’t supposed to turn into question and answer sessions, but that’s as far as my memory goes.)

  35. Mark: Hey, I’m not going to tattle on you.

  36. Rich Harshaw says:

    Anon and JKC, thanks for pointing out the articles that you pointed out. There are indeed some uplifting things in there. I wouldn’t say I have felt unwelcome, just that it’s not really my vibe. I asked an honest question and feel like you both have given me honest, respectful answers. Thank you!

  37. As bad as our music often is, I hope the shortening of sacrament meetings comes out of talks and not music. In my ward we hear entirely too much dating and marriage history, history of when and on what the speaker was asked to talk and the things they thought about other than their subjects. I’m still with the apostle who decades ago said that what we needed was more music and less talk. We don’t even have to go back to the 1950s for that sort of comment. Here’s one from Elder Oaks:

    “‘Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end’ (Hymns, 1985, p. ix).
    The singing of hymns is one of the best ways to put ourselves in tune with the Spirit of the Lord. I wonder if we are making enough use of this heaven-sent resource in our meetings, in our classes, and in our homes.
    … We who have “felt to sing the song of redeeming love” (Alma 5:26) need to keep singing that we may draw ever closer to him who has inspired sacred music and commanded that it be used to worship him.”
    Elder Dallin H. Oaks, November 1994 Ensign

  38. Oh thanks JR borrowing these. I love a Music filled meeting.

  39. Sidebottom @ October 15, 2018 at 8:38 am – “Latter-day Saints had lost the art of conducting sacrament meeting by the Spirit”

    Yep, and the reason? Because we have handbooks and correlation etc etc. Everyone is so afraid of doing something that the church wouldn’t approve of that they’re incapable of acting for themselves. Remember, “the thinking has been done”. We’ve locked ourselves into such a rigid format in everything the church does that people would lose theirs minds if anything different were done. The result? Spiritual starvation.

    Sure, some wards and bishops sometimes do things differently, but the model of the church is obedience, at all costs. I have no doubt that the Lord inspires my bishop with regards to talks etc, but I also think the Lord really only inspires us as much as we let him. When was the last time that a sacrament meeting was really conducted after the workings of the Holy Spirit? In my experience, never. It was okay for Moroni’s time, but now? We have handbooks for that kind of thing. No Spirit required.

  40. Just want to second JKC and Anon on what the BCC does for those of us who feel at home here. I can’t speak in church the way I do here. It helps me stay to feel like there is a community of people who believe who also struggle – or who are at least willing to talk about and analyze – aspects of the church I find difficult.

    I also agree with the post and hope we don’t lose special musical numbers in particular…

  41. Rich Harshaw has brought up the exact sentiment that I have been feeling for a few months now. To me, it feels like BCC has turned into more of a place to rant and one that does indeed nitpick church policy as well as member’s mortal flaws and general shortcomings. His description of how it “sucks the virtue out” of the writer feels accurate, and I believe it even extends in some cases to sucking the virtue out of the reader as well. While I can see how those perspectives have a place and are important to consider, it feels like BCC is being used more and more for those purposes than genuinely uplifting “seeking those thing that are virtuous, lovely, or of good report” that I felt it used to be. I have been reading articles on this blog for years, and have never seen as much of this as I have in the past year or two. In fact, I almost cringe every time I scroll through my feed and see something by BCC (with this particular post as a noteworthy exception; of course, there are others, but they seem to be in the minority).

    I guess what I am saying is that while I appreciate everyone’s attempts to create thought-provoking discussion, I feel a lot like Rich, and am considering whether or not it is worth following BCC.

    Thanks, Rich, for your posts — you’ve nailed my sentiment exactly.

  42. As a convert here in the south, I am so thrilled with a more Christ centered sacrament meeting. I have begged my bishop to assign more talks directly from the teachings of Jesus vs. regurgitation of conference talks. About 2 years ago my non-member family members stopped even the courtesy of attending my sacrament meetings because they couldn’t find Jesus in them. There were so many Sundays focused on the Family Proclamation, self-reliance, the Pathway program, and a whole month dedicated to tithing and fast offerings. I counted and we went 7 non F&T Sundays without a single reference to Jesus in a talk. I minister to 2 older single sisters who stopped coming when each Sunday’s talks came from a different paragraph of the Family Proclamation. The Bishop couldn’t understand why that choice ran them off. We have been in a long sacrament meeting rut. I pray this shakes it up. I’m not trying to nitpick. I have just wanted my Ward to stop hemorrhaging members who don’t feel spiritually nourished. I always hoped that someone with authority would demand a change in emphasis.

  43. I appreciate the word “opportunity” in the title, but I see the 60-minute sacrament meeting and accompanying encouragement and instruction as encouragement to do what always could have been and (in my opinion) should have been. Like my reaction to “ministering,” I think the primary value will turn out to be just shaking things up so that people’s (already) best intentions have room to take root. More so than any explicitly new direction or program.

  44. Suomalainen says:

    Thank you very much for this post and discussion.

  45. I agree, Christian.

  46. A few years ago I was at a conference in Phoenix, and the conference schedule meant that I had to find a sacrament meeting to attend in the afternoon. I ended up at a YSA ward on the college campus. The sacrament meeting included SIX musical numbers from ward members. They were a mixture of instrumental, solo, and small group vocal, and all were very, very good. It was a wonderful and spiritual meeting. I imagine that there are few wards with that depth of musical talent, but it was inspiring. That said, I would not mourn the passing of the intermediate hymn, which is so often one that makes me roll my eyes.

  47. Kevin Barney says:

    Rich, I’ll try to articulate how I see these things, of course speaking only for myself. I’ve been a fan of many of the changes President Nelson has made and is making, such as ministering, combined EQ, two-hour block. Lots of good stuff on a macro level. But bloggers often pay attention to the details.

    Take the renewed focus on our official name and rejection of common short forms. RMN is not the first one to try to emphasize the official name of the Church (but not to this extent), and I have no general problem with such a stance. But there are some specific issues with the way he has tried to do this. First, his rhetoric was over the top and unnecessary, saying Satan wins a great victory every time we use Mormon. I perceive this as a fairly obvious shot at GBH and TSM. RMN published his position in 1990 (28 years ago! He is certainly consistent), and within a year GBH gave his famous Mormon Means More Good talk, actually citing the RMN piece but disagreeing with him. GBH signed off on the fabulously successful I’m a Mormon campaign, and TSM had no problem with Mormon and signed off on the Meet the Mormons movie. So I perceive the Satan rhetoric as a veiled shot at prior leaders who blocked his pet preference. Not cool.

    Where the devil actually is is in the details. There are a lot of practical realities with trying to do away with Mormon and LDS, such as providing reasonable alternative short forms, which hasn’t been done (the ones offered don’t work IMO). And the fact that he mentioned search engine optimization indicates someone tried to explain the problem created by abandoning those terms, and he waived it off as an unimportant temporal matter. We’re still a missionary oriented church, and it’s still in our interest for google searches to be directed to our sites, not those of critics.

    So I’m supportive of the general idea, but the details matter.

  48. AvidReader says:

    Just a short question: Does anyone know what will happen with fast- and testimony meeting? Has it been discontinued?

  49. Rich Harshaw says:

    Kevin: Thanks for your perspective. An interesting thought came to me while reading what you said. Maybe President Nelson is actually an example and type of what our attitudes should be like as we deal with church programs, policies, and cultural nuances that we personally disagree or take issue with.

    Using your example of the name change/emphasis: Clearly he held a strong opinion on the topic as long ago as 1990 (and probably before that)… and expressed his opinion in an appropriate venue (conference) with proper respect to the prevailing authorities–he didn’t chastise the Q12 or FP. In that talk, he focused 95% on the positive (the deeper meanings of the words in the name of the church) and only referenced the negative (using the word “Mormon” instead of the church name) one time.

    Over the next TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS (that is a long time!!), he respected both the first presidency and fellow quorum members as they instituted several Mormon-named initiatives that he ostensibly disagreed with by degrees. He never once (that I am aware of) called them out, publicly reprimanded them, or demanded changes. He simply waited until he was in a position of authority that allowed him to implement the changes.

    Nobody knows what was going on in his mind during those intervening 28 years. Did he feel like GBH and THM were accomplishing worthwhile foundational work during that time? I find that to be a probably case. Or was he constantly and impatiently biting his tongue and biding his time? Again, we don’t know.

    But we do know that he treated the people and programs with respect.

    Maybe that’s a lesson we can all learn from.

  50. Rich, I think what’s bugging some folks is a perception, right or wrong, that by saying that the church gave a major victory to Satan by following the counsel of President Hinckley and President Monson to cheerfully adopt the nickname Mormon, instead of just changing the emphasis and not commenting on past efforts, President Nelson is not treating those previous prophets with sufficient respect. I think you’re right to note that he didn’t publicly oppose them during their lifetimes on this, out of respect. The question is, now that they’re dead, what obligation, if any, does he have to continue to respect them? I mean, in an absolute sense, none, right? He’s the President of the church and they’re dead, and he owes them no deference. But it’s not hard to see why not giving some respect anyway would rankle some folks. I don’t doubt that President Nelson has a ton of respect for President Hinckley and President Monson personally, but he obviously feels very strongly that they were wrong on this. And he’s a lot quicker to use language that suggests a claim of revelation than previous presidents were, which for better or for worse kind of raises the stakes.

  51. This morning I attended a canvassing meeting for the upcoming election and the subject of our church congregations came up. As people were sharing whether or not they had a faith community they could engage in campaign efforts I was asked about my faith community. I told them I was a member of TCOJCOLDS and I got a lot of funny, confused looks so I broke down and clarified, the local Mormon church. I think a couple of them thought I was obfuscating and thus embarrassed to admit I was a Mormon. A few came up and patted my back and tried to reassure me that I was welcome. They were telling me that they knew Mormons from my congregation–Mormon this, Mormon that. I was very uncomfortable with the exchange because when I converted I was always happy to be identified as a Mormon and now hearing the word Mormon used repeatedly unsettled me. It felt very disorienting. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

  52. Rich Harshaw says:

    JKC: Think about the “ministry” of the prophets during our lifetimes. I was young when Kimball was the prophet, but he kind of seemed like the repentance and lengthen your stride guy. Benson was the Book of Mormon and Pride prophet. Hunter was a temple emphasis. Hinckley was the guy who, in addition to his temple-building emphasis, was the ultimate PR prophet. He attempted to normalize and de-weird the church to the extent possible. Monson seemed to be the service and compassion prophet (although i’m not really sure about that).

    So what is President Nelson’s emphasis?

    Actually, the 60-minute, Christ-centered Sacrament meeting is a perfect microcosm of what he is all about. He is 100% about coming to Christ. Period. Every time he opens his mouth, his only concern is to break traditions and cultural elements of the CHURCH and refocus the membership on Jesus Christ. Look at all the comments on this page about people being sick and tired of hearing yet another boring Sacrament talk about tithing or the family proclamation (see OftenPerplexed’s comment as a flag bearer). President Nelson is attempting to accelerate the Christ-centered focus by orders of magnitude.

    Some may feel like he is running roughshod over previous prophets–and maybe he is. But clearly he is not looking back even a little bit–he is only looking forward (think: Lot). Some seem to be more worried about the legacies of GBH and THM than they are about being excited about coming to Christ. Which is actually not true–I doubt a ton of peoples’ respect and admiration of those two has changed even slightly based on the new emphasis. Like my previous comment says, I have a feeling that the Lord (and President Nelson) saw their contributions as productive and foundational to what President Nelson and the Lord are now trying to accomplish.

    Per my original comment in this thread, the nitpicking is sucking the virtue out of people. When you are focused on the prophet’s demeanor and style, you are not focused on the Savior. When you are focused on finding fault in the methodology, you are not focused on the Savior. We should all rejoice that we have a prophet who’s only concern is helping us develop a personal (read: not institutional) relationship with Jesus Christ. Instead of enjoying the fruit, we are studying the branches, criticizing the trunk, and picking at the roots. And paradoxically, by doing so, we are ignoring/minimizing his core message.

  53. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Agreed, JKC. President Nelson isn’t just respectfully disagreeing with Presidents Hinckley and Monson. He’s throwing them under the bus in a full-throated manner, using his newfound prophetic weight to disavow their “mormon”-based initiatives. There’s really nothing respectful about it. Of course, he does have the right to do so, but it’s an ugly look that belies the sense of Q15 unanimity he has consistently sought to convey.

  54. Rich Harshaw says:

    OftenPerplexed: I think we have all experienced something similar to that! And it is hard! But as we collectively resolve to battle through the odd looks and uncomfortable stares, things will start to change.

    I have already seen it start to happen. I have a good friend and business associate who is an Evangelical Christian; I talked to him for the first time yesterday since conference, and apparently he had another conversation with another member of the Church last week who informed him of the name change. I explained to him WHY we were making this change of emphasis yesterday, and his graceful response was something like “now we are brothers in Christ together.”

    Any change is hard and comes with lots of potholes and second guessing. Let’s stay the course and see if we can move the needle on the Christ-centered emphasis… both in others’ perceptions of us… and of our perceptions of ourselves!

  55. Look, I’m not interested in attacking President Nelson’s choice of words. If I’m being honest I still don’t get it, but it’s a relatively small thing he’s asked of me and I’m happy to make the effort. I also understand why it rubs some members the wrong way and I’m not interested in attacking or criticizing them for it or making it some kind of test of their faith. It may end up being that kind of test, or it may not, but either way, I’m not in any position to judge whether they pass the test or not, and the last thing I want is to be responsible for driving someone out of the church or making them feel unwelcome by sending some kind of “get with the program or else you don’t have faith” message. That’s just not my responsibility.

  56. Rich Harshaw says:

    JKC, I agree that you are not in a position to tell people to get with the program or else. But you are in a position, as a blogger on a well-known and trusted church-related website, to encourage and influence people. That is no small thing. My power and influence as a commenter is fractional compared to yours as an article writer. I certainly wouldn’t ask you to attack anyone or criticize people with alternate viewpoints… but it would be refreshing to see somebody take the side of defending, sustaining, and uplifting (like you have done in this excellent article about the Sacrament meeting) instead of exposing and exploring all of the possible problems with various stances taken by church leaders.Thanks again for an honest discussion on the topic. I really do believe that you are one of the good guys (or gals)!

  57. Before I head off, I read some of what Rich posted and he seems really thoughtful. The problem and struggle I have with the let’s shed our Mormon identity campaign is that I do not have my own witness that it is from God. I love being a Mormon. I love Christ. I love being a Mormon Helping Hand. I love The Book of Mormon and I love explaining how Mormonism is different from Protestantism. I love talking about another testament. I am happy to have found a safe place where I can see others have the same struggle while others don’t.

  58. Anonymous says:

    With less relief society and potentially less talks, I wonder how often women will hear from women, and equally important, how much often men and children will hear from women perspective.

    This last conference had a lot of men ‘splaining. Although they say women and necessary, what do they implicitly show our daughters when a women’s place is in the audience?

  59. A lot of posters seem concerned that shortening sacrament will lead to less music. While that’s certainly possible, in most wards I have attended just cutting the announcements would save 5-10 minutes.

  60. Don’t know who JR at 10:50am is, but it isn’t me. Some announcements are indeed useless, however, the wards I attend are not trained to read the bulletins which often do not include announcements that should be made. Let’s cut useless announcements AND rambling, irrelevant talks and “book reports”. :)

  61. Rich, I have wondered whether you can hear yourself. You wouldn’t ask JKC “to attack anyone or criticize people with alternate viewpoints,” but you do it by classifying others’ concerns with President Nelson’s statements as “nitpicking” and by asserting that they can have only one focus (“When you are focused on the prophet’s demeanor and style, you are not focused on the Savior.”) I guess you think President Nelson’s victory-for-Satan and offending-the-Savior language and his clearly implied claim of lack of unity among the Q15 over the course of the I’m-a-Mormon campaign and more, and his clearly implied claim that his predecessors-in-office were not inspired are all mere “nits”. I think you could find better ways to encourage compliance with President Nelson’s naming preference (whether or not inspired) than to tell people they are nitpickers when they take his words seriously. Saying that his statements about the Savior and Satan are mere nits is hardly defending them. I think I’ll go with calling them rhetorical exaggeration and possibly normal human confusion as to the extent to which one’s own concerns have gotten mixed up with what the Lord has impressed upon the mind.
    One can recognize all that AND be focused on the Savior.

  62. Rich – I hope you don’t mind if I add in some thoughts to your comments.

    One of my challenges with the present changes is stylistic. (I apologize ahead because I am combining threads in this answer). I have for years yearned for us to be more Christ centered. Long before blogs, and life online. So that idea is hopeful to me. My struggle does come from the rough shodding over past Prophets. And it rolls all the way back to Joseph Smith, to whom we still sing, “Praise to the Man”. All my life they were beacons. To have one of the next in line imply something horridly egregious (though names were not mentioned) is very painful for me. I believe Christ centered is far more than a name change. The Christ centered I have hoped, and do hope for, is more anchored beyon our worship, more to our actions (far beyond helping hands), and who we look to, and present our lives like. Being like Jesus. I really don’t believe Christ or Heavenly Parents were offended when we used “Mormon”. The name in the long run would be the least of their worries. (IMO).

    President Nelson and I differ hugely in our deliveries of information in life. He smashes alcohol bottles. I would never. I know that because I have similar stories in my family. I have to work out my frustrations with that style. Whether I like his motives or not. That struggle is hugely aided for me on this blog. People with different thoughts add things in. I process them. I have processed your thoughts. I can’t have these discussions anywhere else and not get labeled unfairly.

    As a comment-er here, I will try to respect a broad range of views. I have an amazing ward, that has been having Savior Centered Sacrament Meetings for a while now. I grieve that we kept SS. I will miss the Relief Society time we lose. I love the abundance of humanitarian work my stake does. I am happy to believe in a redeeming God and Christ like my friends of many faiths believe in, even when we are all a bit nuanced. I love being Mormon. My pioneer heritage earned that name with every footstep and resettlement they took on. Just now, having it brushed over hurts.

    My apologies that my frustrations and pain have caused you frustration. Thanks for continuing to engage.

  63. I think it’s highly likely the q12 and fp all agreed in years past that the church should be called by it’s actual name, as the Lord wants.

    I can imagine the debate over the advertising campaign being more pragmatic where they all agreed the full name was best but agreed with consultants to give the marketing campaign a go, and they gave it their best shot.

    Now Pres. Nelson can look back at those internal discussions and see the results and assess them with his current inspiration and recognize they put their trust in the wrong source for their advertising campaigns.

    I don’t think that’s too far fetched and didn’t require the q12 to be at cause variance with each other over the issue.

  64. Eh, I don’t know, BiC. President Hinckley was pretty outspoken about his support for using “Mormon” as a nickname. It’s hard for me to read his talks on that and conclude that he actually didn’t think it was good, but was just begrudgingly going along with a marketing campaign. But I suppose it’s possible.

    Personally, it doesn’t bother me much that the brethren may not have agreed on something like this. We’ve had extremely sharp disagreements among the brethren on fundamental doctrines in our history and managed to survive it. The list of things we have to agree on is really short, and there’s a lot of room for difference of opinion on other stuff.

  65. Rich Harshaw says:

    Cat:Your responses have not caused me pain and frustration at all. You seem like a sincere person is hoping for better Christmas and Easter programs.

    JR: Touche. Some people are frustrated with how this situation was handled; some are frustrated with the frustrated people. I guess that’s life.

    To be clear: I did not say that the preceding administrations’ “Mormon” campaigns were not inspired; I said they may have laid a foundation that we are now ready to start building on. Of course there are differing opinions in the Q15… in fact, they have stated so on many, many occasions. Sometimes you have to go with the majority. I do it all the time when my kids want to go to Chick-Fil-A and I don’t. It does’t mean I hate Chick-Fil-A or that I think my kids are somehow wrong.

    The point of my original comment on this topic still stands: Perhaps the main lesson to pull out of this is President Nelson’s example of how to gracefully go along with the majority opinion for an extended period of time until you have the position and authority to do something about it.

    Here is what I think is the real problem with this entire issue. I think people are upset because President Nelson’s change of emphasis means that the previous administrations were wrong, and because he used the words “victory for Satan,” they are afraid that the previous administrations were VERY wrong. And if they were wrong on something that seems so simple (like the apparently harmless name of the church), then what were they also wrong about… things that are maybe even more important? This leads to a conclusion that either the previous administrations were “wrong and Nelson is “right” or vice-versa–previous ones were “right” and Nelson is now “wrong.” Either way it’s a dilemma because we now might have to face the fact that the church leaders are not actually inspired… and that the church is really run by a bunch of old men, not Jesus Christ himself. I think that, in a nutshell, is why this is so disconcerting. It feels like we are being forced to choose sides–or maybe choose a side that says the church isn’t inspired so much after all.

    But I don’t see it like that at all.

    Have you ever heard of the “Samuel Principle?” It refers to a bible story where the Lord had Samuel warn the people against having a king… but they wanted anyway, so the Lord threw up his hands and said “fine, you want a king, here’s a king.” It turned out badly enough for them that they named the principle after Samuel… which is that the Lord gives agency to people, including the prophet that is called to lead them.

    This is very likely the reason blacks were denied the priesthood for so long.. and why highly respected Apostles like Bruce R. McConkie had to recall their words on the subject and publicly admit they were wrong. McConkie’s words: “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”

    Is it really possible that Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or Bruce R. McConkie had a “limited understanding” and were “without the light and knowledge that has now come into the world?”

    Of course!

    That is how revelation works… according to the readiness of the people and the prophets. That is why we continue to have prophets instead of just canonizing everything the previous ones said and calling it good.

    I have read the (lengthy and detailed) biographies of both Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson. They were undoubtedly great men who were deeply spiritual and who were true prophets of God. I trust that they were the right prophets for their time and situations.

    But I would also submit that it’s possible that this is now a different time and situation. It is a fact that we are closer to the end of times and the Millennium than we were during those administrations. How close are we? It’s hard to tell… but I don’t think we should brush Nelson’s Christ-centeredness aside as the ramblings of an old man running roughshod over previous prophets. He might actually be on to something important. Maybe he’s trying to lead us to a higher spiritual plane. Maybe he has tasted the fruits of that higher plane. Maybe he understands the importance of taking the name of Christ on ourselves like none of his predecessors. He could very well be the right prophet for this exact time with the exact right message for us now.

    Think about it. How is it that President Nelson has been preserved in such freakishly good health? Have you ever seen another 94-year old with that kind of mental and physical capacity? I haven’t. Statistically, only 1.9% of people in the US live to age 94… and the majority of those are not mentally or physically fit.

    His message is the same as Moroni–Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourself of all ungodliness. It’s a great message.

  66. “Have you ever seen another 94-year old with that kind of mental and physical capacity?”

    Yes. Several.

  67. I can’t read all the comments but in a Church-themed FB group I belong to a choir director reported that a member of the bishopric said to him: “with the new, shorter SM, it looks like the choir won’t be able to participate anymore,” so, yes, music will be entirely at the mercy of local leadership, most of whom think of hymns and sacred music in our meetings as “optional.” They would must rather cut out the closing hymn and sum up the talks we just listened to. (Not done to me but I frequently see it in Rs or in other wards)
    Last month, after 9 ½ years of service as music chair and chorister, I asked to be released while I was out of the country. It was hard because it’s been my favorite calling ever and I knew I’d bawl my eyes out if I was present. I loved that I was allowed to be creative but as an agnostic and total non-believer in Mormonism some Sundays were really, really hard—but I hid it well from the believers.

    Once the 60 minutes SM became a reality it hit me that my timing was perfect. I’ve had 2 great, supportive bishoprics but the current one is coming on 5 years and there’s no telling what the next one would be like.

    Seeing music downgraded to “optional” while I’m still in charge of choosing and schedule it would kill me.

  68. Bishops, you can have this template for free:

    Invocation (1 min)
    Congregational hymn (5 min)
    Youth reading of Psalm (2 min)
    Youth reading of the OT (3 min)
    Adult reading of the NT (3 min)
    Adult reading of Book of Mormon (3 min)
    Bishopric reading of the Gospel (3 min)
    Congregational hymn or special musical number (5)
    Sermon on one or more of the readings (12 min)
    Sacrament hymn (5 min)
    Sacrament (10 min)
    Closing hymn (5 min)
    Benediction (1 min)

    58 minutes.

    Oh, and what readings for a given Sunday? How about reading what the rest of the Christian church is reading on that Sunday?

  69. I like gst’s suggestion.

  70. The great virtue of gst’s plan is that it eliminates “I Believe in Christ” as a congregational hymn.

  71. Yes, Ardis, but on the other hand I once had to play “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning” at the tempo directed by a BYU music professor and it took 11 minutes! I’d rather not lose that one too. Maybe the subtext of the gst plan is a requirement to sing the hymns at a decent tempo.

  72. Bro. Jones says:

    Ardis: hah

    JR: Eternal condemnation awaits the person who has the gall to ruin the Hymn of the Restoration!

  73. gst, I see what you did there.

    (For those who don’t, the format gst has proposed is like a Mormon mirror of the basic, consistent pattern of liturgical Christian churches, i.e. Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, pretty much across the board. It’s pretty great.)

  74. Rich: Very well said. My thoughts exactly on the subject.

    Anon: “Have you ever seen another 94-year old with that kind of mental and physical capacity?” I have seen this as well, but it is the exception, not the rule, in my experience.

    Martie: “I can’t read all the comments but in a Church-themed FB group I belong to a choir director reported that a member of the bishopric said to him: “with the new, shorter SM, it looks like the choir won’t be able to participate anymore,” so, yes, music will be entirely at the mercy of local leadership, most of whom think of hymns and sacred music in our meetings as “optional.””

    It’s a shame that a bishopric member would so quickly make decisions as to the agenda for Sacrament Meeting. Don’t put a lot of stock in what the bishopric member said. Let’s wait to see what comes from Salt Lake and then let stake presidencies consult with bishopric members to make inspired decisions as to what should and should not be included in the one hour meeting. There is hope!! I am in local leadership and I certainly do not think hymns and music are optional.

  75. One of the other great things about gst’s proposed schedule is that there is no time for announcements or for needless “conducting” of the meeting by bishopric members. But I do think that the times set for readings are a little longer than would be customary. At a normal conversational pace, three minutes would be about 330 words. I Corinthians 13 is only 279 words, and the 23rd Psalm is only 118. So you could squeeze some time from those readings to have the choir sing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.