Mormon Inquiry

Mormon Inquiry


A reporter’s account of an LDS Sunday service

posted by Dave Banack

It is always helpful to try and see yourself through someone else’s eyes. So it’s worthwhile to read a British journalist’s account of attending an LDS Sunday meeting (a monthly testimony meeting, not the usual weekly sacrament meeting) at the Hyde Park Ward in London. It appears to be one in a series of similar visits to various denominations. The tone is balanced, although the journalist doesn’t try very hard to hide his general disdain for religion. That’s okay — I don’t try very hard to hide my general disdain for journalists.

Anyway, here are a few things the reporter noticed during his visit (quotations in italics) with my comments.

  • The chapel is bright, modern and completely unadorned. … There’s a marked low-church sensibility. Yes, it’s easy to forget how “completely unadorned” LDS chapels are until you visit a few other churches in your neighborhood.
  • The bishop and priests, in suits, greet many of the congregation personally as they walk to take their places at the front. I have visited a variety of other denominations (in the US) and the pastors generally greet congregants before the meeting and visit with them after the meeting. So I’m guessing this sense of surprise that Mormons weren’t cold and aloof reflects British expectations about how church officials are “supposed” to act.
  • The service kicks off with the opening hymn, “Because I have been given much”. It’s a typical ploddy, churchy tune, and for a moment this could be any Christian service – except that, oddly, we don’t stand up to sing. Yeah, typically people sing “churchy tunes” in church. It’s church, not the pub or a football match.

I can think of a couple of distinctive features of LDS meetings that might be added to the list. The three-hour block. The Sunday meeting marathon certainly deserves comment (the reporter apparently did not choose to stay for Sunday School and priesthood meeting). And I for one am proud of LDS parking lots, ample free parking being one of the few aspects of the American Dream that is not threatened by the present economic crisis.

Anything else visitors (or regular attendees) find distinctive about LDS meetings or chpaels?



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Jettboy

posted February 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm


I just find it fascinating that the reporter (and the following commentators) continue to treat Mormonism as some fringe with the likes of the aloof Amish. I am not one to believe that it will expand beyond an insignificant population compared to other religions. Yet, there are believing Mormons in every walk of life in many neighborhoods across the globe – especially England.
Right now my mind is turning over why that perception is so blatantly against the reality. The same thing is happening with the whole California prop8 situation where Mormons are portrayed as outsiders from Utah. It is as if you push hard enough those “prop8 supporting Mormons” can be sent “back home.” Fascinating considering that last I remember there is a close number of Mormons in California as in Utah. Perhaps you could say Mormonism is here to stay because as a silent minority no one realized they are here.



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Your Name

posted February 13, 2009 at 3:41 pm


In protestant churches, I’ve noticed that they do not partake of the sacrament (they may call it Lord’s Supper) every week, nor do they use water in the rite. This may depend upon the denomination or the clergy.
Most protestant churches that I’ve attended also have what is called an “invitational hymn” at the close so that those that feel compelled may come forward and “be saved”.
Just my experience.



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RickLDS

posted February 13, 2009 at 3:43 pm


Oops. I, too, meant to sugn that last post.



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Stephen

posted February 13, 2009 at 4:33 pm


Actually “Jettboy”, I disagree with your statement that Californians want to “send the Mormons home to Utah” because of their support of Proposition 8. The resentment of many Californians is based upon the LDS Church’s strong mobilization of its resources–and those of its members–outside of California to overturn the right of gays and lesbians in California to marry.
Published reports have indicated that between 40 and 50 percent of the contributions to the “Yes On Proposition 8″ campaign came from Mormons; without these contributions, it is unlikely that Proposition 8 would have passed. (The estimates came from various sources, including representatives of the protectmarriage (pro-Prop 8 group).



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Jeff

posted February 13, 2009 at 4:35 pm


Jettboy:
You can review a wide range of articles on Proposition 8 and the LDS (Mormon) Church at http://www.prop8-lds.4t.com. This could provide additional perspective on the issue.



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Your Name

posted February 13, 2009 at 5:07 pm


Hi Jeff,
thought you might also be interested in:
http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/same-sex-marriage-and-proposition-8
Since this is “Mormon Inquiry”, it might make sense to go to the source of the “Mormon”‘s involvement in Proposition 8.
This site (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/media-reports-on-proposition-8-filing-uninformed) also is gr8 b/c it gives the church’s non-monetary contributions. (and addresses some of the mistakes found in the media’s reports) =)



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Anne

posted February 14, 2009 at 7:39 am


ironic you should mention ‘parking lots’- Hyde Park has an underground car park, with few spaces, so well hidden you have to be in the know to find it. The locals used to dread big conferences when we would have to fill the little- mews- cottage- lined- cobbled- streets for miles around with our cars.Thankfully the Chapel is directly opposite an Underground entrance.
Other denominations (in the UK anyway) usually stand to sing hymns, which I think was more his point on the hymns issue.



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Seth R.

posted February 14, 2009 at 6:05 pm


I found it notable that the reporter chose not to comment on how difficult or easy it was to find out when the local LDS meeting was. I’ve even had trouble doing that when traveling, and I’m Mormon!



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David W.

posted February 14, 2009 at 10:11 pm


It’s my understanding that LDS congregations stood to sing hymns until sometime in the 1940s. I think reviving the custom would help alleviate some of the lethargy which is all too prevalent in our worship services. How can sloppy singing be reverent?



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Jerry

posted February 15, 2009 at 1:34 am


We often stand to sing the rest hymn. I have never felt like I was in a bar watching a sporting event. We also stand during the national anthem and there is nothing disrespectful or unseemly about that. I think you are being a little overly sensitive to some of the observations.
I find it interesting that visitors find what we do as foreign as I find other churches meeting when I visit.



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UmYeah

posted February 16, 2009 at 12:31 pm


“I found it notable that the reporter chose not to comment on how difficult or easy it was to find out when the local LDS meeting was. I’ve even had trouble doing that when traveling, and I’m Mormon!”
Seth R, Try maps.lds.org you will find meetinghouses, times, etc… It is great.
UmYeah



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Clark

posted February 17, 2009 at 12:32 pm


Too bad they didn’t sing “Hie to Kolob” while he was there…



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