Going to LDS church for first time?


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I thought this might be helpful for those who are interested in attending LDS worship services for the first time--the expectations as well as what to expect.

1. You are welcome to attend all meetings. We worship on Sundays (times vary depending on location) for 3 hours total. There is a meeting for sacrament (also known as communion), Sunday School, and then a meeting for men and women, separately. Generally, everyone (men, women, children) attend the sacrament meeting. Sunday school and the other meetings are broken up by age or gender (age 12 and up are split by gender).

2. You may come dressed in any manner, but generally people wear their best. Typically, men wear white shirts, ties, and slacks. Women wear dresses or skirts. No one would expect you to dress in that manner unless you wish to do so. Women may wear pants to church. Men may choose to wear jeans or go without a tie.

3. During the sacrament meeting, the sacrament is served (also known as communion, but LDS call it sacrament). Sacrament consists of bread and water--we do not use wine or grape juice. It is not required that you eat or drink the sacrament if you choose not to. LDS people partake of the sacrament in remembrance of the covenants they made at baptism. Since you are not baptised into the LDS faith, no one will think ill of you if you pass on taking the sacrament. However, if you wish to do so, no one will think ill of you.

4. We do not have paid ministry. A bishop leads the local congregation, but he is not exclusively the preacher. People from the congregation speak (they are called to speak beforehand--don't worry, you will not be asked to speak). Topics range depending on the local bishop and his choice for topics. Sunday school is typically taught by either a local member of the congregation or sometimes by a full time missionary. The other meetings are taught by local members of the congregation.

5. If you attend on the first Sunday of the month (sometimes this may vary), then you will likely be attending what we call a Fast and Testimony meeting. This is a time for the members to fast for 2 meals and donate that money to provide for the poor. Also, during church services, the time is opened for members to testify to things he/she believes. You will not be asked or expected to stand and speak.

6. You, as a guest, are not expected to speak publicly. You may participate as much as you wish, but it certainly isn't expected that you will. Be prepared to be greeted by people from the congregation and by the full time missionaries. You may be asked several questions, but these are not intended to be intrusive, but rather to determine if you are a member, visitor, etc. You may be asked to sit with someone or asked that someone wishes to sit with you. Again, this is simply to help you feel welcome and not sit alone.

7. LDS people are not perfect. You may encounter rude, obnoxious, unthinking people. Please know that we, as a group, are like any other group.

8. You may be asked by the missionaries if you wish to learn more. They will try to persuade you to take a Book of Mormon, or meet with them, or attend church again. We are a missionary church and feel it is our duty to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people. For that reason, you will likely be invited to a number of activities. You may decline at any time.

9. It is ok to ask questions. In fact, we encourage it. Don't be surprised if we don't know the answer. Because there is no paid ministry, local members teach and have differing levels of knowledge and understanding. Typically, in sacrament meeting, the congregation only listens. Dialogue is encouraged in the other 2 meetings.

10. Our worship services are typically quieter than some you may be used to. As a whole, we do not shout out praises. We do sing, when directed, and have dialogue. We do not applaud after a musical performance or after a speaker. One thing you may see while attending is what we call a "sustaining." When someone is called to a position in the church, they will usually be asked to stand while the other members raise their right hand to show their support for them in that particular call. You are not required to raise your hand.

Edited by beefche
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