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?