My husband and I have a good friend who isn’t a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon church). Because of his friendship with us, he is familiar with many customs and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ. He knows about fasting, General Conference, and missions, among a whole host of other Mormon topics. One of the Mormons practices that fascinates and perplexes him the most is the Sunday worship services, which are typically three hours long.
What Happens During Mormon Sunday Worship
It’s true. On Sundays Mormons go to church for three hours, and yes, that is a long time. The three-hour service is divided into three separate blocks, and the order of these varies from congregation to congregation. (Mormons call their congregations wards.) The most important service is sacrament meeting. For this meeting, the whole ward meets together in the chapel, with the service beginning and ending with a hymn and prayer. The crux of sacrament meeting is the blessing and passing of the sacrament, an ordinance similar to communion in other faiths. The sacrament is so central to Sunday worship services because it represents the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on our behalf. The sacrament is a time to reflect on the past week, repent of shortcomings, and resolve–through the Savior–to do and be better. This is a time where church members renew the promises they made with God at their baptism. Partaking of the sacrament is very sacred and personal. After the sacrament, the congregation typically hears a set of talks, or speeches assigned to fellow church members on specific gospel topics.
Because The Church of Jesus Christ is a lay clergy, the sermons delivered are often given by regular church members. The bishop of the ward, who is comparable to a pastor or minister, presides over sacrament meeting and will often spend a few moments speaking to the congregation himself. The second block of Sunday services is usually a Sunday School class. There are often several classes members can attend, ranging in topics from scripture study to family history to missionary work to family relationships. The teenagers and children have their own classes that they attend with age-appropriate curriculum. The final block on Sundays is dedicated to specific church organizations. The men convene together in priesthood classes, the women gather for Relief Society, teenagers separate to attend their respective Young Men and Young Women classes, and children go to Primary. All church members are given ample opportunity each Sunday to strengthen their testimonies of Jesus Christ and serve one another.
Blessings from Sunday Worship
One of the things I love about my Sunday worship is that Sundays feel different from the other days. I know that I will dress up and take my family to church, that we won’t engage in other work or pastimes because our focus will be on worshipping God. When Christ created the world, He rested on the seventh day, and He has asked us to do the same. Sundays and Sunday worship services provide me a simple and direct way to dedicate my time to Heavenly Father. I get to rest from my other stresses and responsibilities and focus on my relationship with Jesus Christ. Sundays are beautiful days. I’ve been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ my whole life, so I’m accustomed to my Sundays being dedicated to worship. I won’t pretend, however, that sometimes those three hours can feel long. Especially now that my husband and I have a baby, Sundays are sometimes a challenge to get through. Every single week, though, I am grateful for the opportunity to renew my promises with God through the sacrament. I love that I get to learn about my Savior and learn more about His gospel and doctrine. I have opportunities to connect with other church members and learn from them. I know that God blesses me when I go to church. Our friend has been to sacrament meeting with my family once or twice. I could see the Spirit touch him, even though he didn’t stay for the full three hours. I pray that someday he’ll understand the blessing of Mormon Sunday worship and see that those three hours are a special time in the week.