Our readers will have heard that the First Presidency announced yesterday that all church meetings and activities have been suspended, due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, most members and families will worship at home starting this Sunday.
In addition, the Church’s counsel says, “We encourage members in their ministering efforts to care for one another. We should follow the Savior’s example to bless and lift others.” So despite the pandemic, we should try to find ways to minister and help others (as I suggested earlier this week).
This is not new for everyone. On occasion church is canceled due to local weather, logistics and natural disasters. No doubt many of our readers have experienced such closures in their area.
Given that we all have only a few days to prepare for worshiping at home this Sunday, I thought it might be useful to start a discussion of what to do and how to prepare, as well as what to do to help others.
For those of you who have had to make do without meetings at church, what have you done? If your situation isn’t the standard nuclear family, what do you do? How do you worship at home if you are the only one there?
I think sharing some tips about what to do and how to do it might help us make our home worship fulfilling and help us support our friends and neighbors.
What do you do?
With an hour of the announcement, our bishopric had an email out authorizing all priesthood holders to serve the sacrament to their families and their ministering assignments. For our Sunday meeting, I’m thinking we may watch one of the new church videos on the First Visions and then do something fun like play a board game.
In some ways, I see this as a moment to be taken advantage of. Our college students are coming home and we are going to be a family all-together with little distractions (all extra-curricular events having already cancelled) for possibly a while. Even when everyone is home, we are usually going thirty different directions.
I’ve done this before in a family setting whilst living in a remote location in France for a year. RS with two of us was precious, and clearly a good training.
We will do similarly ReTx, but I fear for our single and /or lone members.
Ministering will be limited to phone contact here in Europe as it would be pointless to increase contagion with home visits, but I’m making a mental list of those who we will need to support. Family will clearly need to be top of that list, and it will include neighbours, friends and community where we can. To be honest I no longer have the numbers of everyone in the ward anyway. I suspect we must lift where we stand.
I do fear that we may lose some of our number in all of this, and feel for our poor Bishops. Strange times.
I will also say I am determined to meet with as yet healthy friends in the open air to walk and talk. Mental health remains important, and I think we must remember those who are not on social media. Most have landlines hopefully.
Very interesting. Our bishopric specifically said priesthood holders are not authorized to administer the sacrament this Sunday.
AM’s comment is (depressingly) interesting, and highlights the centrality of Bishop and Stake President roulette. Yesterday, my Stake sent out an e-mail to all members stating that the Stake Presidency is encouraging all worthy MP and AP holders to bless and administer the Sacrament in their homes. Our Bishop very shortly thereafter chimed in with his own affirming e-mail. Some leaders trust their people more than other leaders. The more one feels the need to control things, the less trust there is.
Well, that’s one way to see it—and as far as control and trust go, I agree. But I’m not sure I agree that the popular criticism “bishop roulette” is always bad. The reason for allowing Bishops and Stake Presidents to act independently is that local circumstances and needs are different, and therefore the approach should be different. The mix of people affected in each location is also different and may require different approaches.
Isn’t it possible that there is a reason why one stake might not allow administering the sacrament in this way while another might allow it?
Blanket consistency is not always best. One of the troubling things I’ve seen in government is the tendency of legislatures over the last 50 years to narrow the ability of Judges to give different sentences in different situations. There are mandatory minimum sentences and limits on the types of sentences possible. Is this really good? Yes its more consistent, but consistent policies hurt every bit as much as arbitrary ones.
I think what we’re really talking about here is that the public doesn’t trust judges, and feels the need to control things (sound familiar).
And likewise the call for consistency among Bishops and Stake Presidents might just be a desire for more control among church members, and evidence of less trust in our leaders.
While I see that lack of trust as sometimes justified, it is still very sad.
Thank you for your reply. I realize that the Church gives local leaders a lot of leeway, and in the age of an increasingly diverse Church with diverse situations, that is good. For example, the Church had to learn through experience that trying to force a Utah model, with huge stake centers and elaborate programs geared toward a large membership, on small, struggling congregations in Europe , Asia, and South America, did not always work well.
I am certainly open to the idea that there might be good reasons for local stake and Ward authorities to not authorize home administration of the Sacrament, but would appreciate your offering a couple of scenarios, because I am having trouble thinking of any, off the top of my head.
The Sacrament is our most precise ordinance. The wording has to be correct. It is preferred that we take it with our right hand. I have seen the desire to do it 100 percent right taken to extremes, including a Branch Presidency member literally snatching the tray out of the hand of the man preparing the Sacrament, because he did not have a right hand. No exaggeration. There was a physical tussle over the possession of the tray, right in front of the whole Branch.
My point is, there are certain types of Church leaders who get the vapors, when they consider the possibility that the Sacrament might not be done 100 percent right, and if it is done in our homes, they can’t be sure that it will be done perfectly. I think that is a pity. Trust and a willingness to accept some error in an unusual situation are better, I think.
I live in a suburb of Seattle. Our stake president has said that the next time we will be authorized to partake of the sacrament is Easter Sunday. I think it’s all out of a desire to minimize germ-spreading between ministering brothers and families, etc. I for one am sure I will appreciate the sacrament much more after many weeks without the blessing of taking it.
Our family is going to fill Sunday with some one-on-one time with each of our kids (an “interview” of sorts to see how they are doing generally), board games, perhaps Frozen II since Disney is benevolently releasing it early on Disney+.
I live 60 miles south of Seattle. Our bishop sent an email authorizing us to have the sacrament administered in our homes if we had an available priesthood holder. He asked anyone who did not have a priesthood holder in their home to reply to his email so that he would know, and he would arrange for someone to come to the home at least once a month. He asked that the person in the home have the bread and water prepared, and promised that those coming to administer the sacrament would be mindful of good hygiene practices and would not be ill. He also asked that if the recipient had any signs of illness, not have the sacrament brought that week. We received this email yesterday.
In contrast, I saw a post on the facebook group from the branch we formerly lived in back East. In that entire stake, the stake president is not authorizing anyone to administer the sacrament at home until further notice; it was said that he wants more direction from President Nelson first.
In my stake in Minnesota we’re authorized to administer the sacrament. My son was recently ordained a priest, so it will be fun to bless the bread and water at home with him. I minister to an ASL family of new-ish church members, so I’ll be showing the dad how to do it, too.
Otherwise, I plan on keeping our family’s church routine as normal as possible: song, prayer, sacrament, short message from someone, song, prayer (my younger daughter actually has it all planned out already, with times and everything). We’ll also read scriptures together, watch a church video (or maybe The Chosen episode, borrowed from a friend), go on a walk, play a board game, bake something yummy, and maybe video-call my dad and sister, both of whom probably can’t accept visitors until the current plague has passed us over.
P.S. I love the title of this post. :) <3
From southwest Salt Lake County – similar to Lisa from Seattle. An email from the Bishop reminding us of social distancing; DEATH was mentioned twice in the first paragraph, but our SP is a physician…we were told not to have a formal sacrament mtg but to have appropriate dress and reverence. We were advised to reach out to extended family with welfare needs then the EQ or RS. A follow-up email said that two brothers must be present when giving the sacrament to a single sister.