Our Experience in a Mormon Ward (Church Service)

It's Sunday, so of course we headed down to the local church fellowship... the Mormon ward. (Well, actually, we started the morning at Ogden Valley Community Church and then headed over. It is important to be prepared spiritually, so I'm glad we did this. Emily blogged a bit about it.)

Unless they are Mormon converts, not many Christians probably visit their local ward, and it proved to be an educational experience for us. This post is for those who haven't been and may be wondering what to expect.

The Mormon service can be three hours long, divided into three segments (similar to the Christian practice of having a Sunday School separate form the main worship service). We were a bit misinformed as to the times, so we came for the Sacrament Service, their third and final service, and then we joined a Sunday School service being conducted another ward meeting in the same building.

The service atmosphere could have been a traditional Baptist gathering. We were met with folks dressed nicely - no woman wore pants, and all the men were conspicuously wearing white shirts, some wearing blue blazers. We sat on wooden pews with hymnals at our knees, and noticed the large organ center-stage.

And yes, the people we spoke with were friendly and warm.

The stage was filled with chairs which, if one forgot belonged to a Mormon Ward, could have seated a decent choir. Some of the chairs were filled with men and women who would be the service's speakers.

The Sacrament Service is for families, so there were children and babies throughout the congregation. Many of the boys went forward to pass out the elements (bread rippings and water in this case), but those too young remained with their families. As you might imagine, there were quite a few disruptive children and babies, as it natural, but what was surprising to us was that only one or two parents removed their troublemakers. The rest were left to add to the cacophony.

We waved on the sacraments as politely as we could, as it would have been improper of us both before them and before God. Unfortunately, those noticing met our gaze with glares.

There were four hymns for this service. They interspersed the hymns through the service, marking transition points for another speaker to begin. The songs were:
(As an aside, everything in Utah seems to be decorated with pictures of beehives. The idea is that good Mormons are busy bees, always productive and never wasting a moment. Keep in mind that their service is for the sake of their eternity as well as many others that are already dead.)

The first gal at the pulpit shared a story from Matthew 14 where Jesus calls Peter out of the boat to walk on water. There was a basic moral message about how we should never take our eyes off Jesus; decent.

The next speaker gave her kudos to the founders of Utah, using a number of verses to give credence to the whole system: Isaiah 2:2 (Utah has mountains, get it?) and John 13:5, Matt 22:39 (Mormons are kind and charitable). Dear reader, Mormons use Christian virtue to prove their false gospel, virtue Christians should be showing. It should convict us to see this.

The final speaker of note spoke on reverence. We had to bite our tongues at this point: after talking against the disquiet spirit of our age (a true observation, fwiw), he said that inspiration comes in the quiet, and that the Holy Spirit is not in noise. He had to say this with increasing volume as the fervor of the children fussing reached its climax - but let us just overlook that.

He also emphasized the usage of "Thee" and "Thy" in prayers because... well... Premodern Era English pronouns are more reverential, somehow.

After the communion service, we walked down the hall and sat in on a Sunday School class that was part of the next ward. This class was taught by a Mormon gal who seemed somewhat knowledgeable of the passage from which we read. (It's difficult to say as the lessons are prepackaged by LDS central and shipped around the world for each Sunday.)

The text: 1 Kings 17-19.

The message: even the great prophets get down, so stick with it. This wouldn't be that bad of a lesson if it weren't for one key thing. She cited Doctrines and Covenants 110:13-16 where Joseph Smith sees Elijah hand the keys of the dispensation over, because Smith was the prophet who was to fulfill Malachi 4:5. Since we were now talking about prophets in general, we waited for her to deal with Deuteronomy 13:1-4 or Deuteronomy 18:21-22, but she never did.

Well, that's about it. Jonathan, who has been to several other ward services in the past, said that this is the most Bible he has ever seen. So, it would be interesting to see if this is a new trend or if they only open the Bible during certain times of the year.

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