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I Skipped Church. . .But It Wasn’t My Fault

March 23, 2021

I’ve always been a church-goer. When I was young, my mother made sure we went to church. And we ended up going to a lot of different ones. Baptist, Lutheran, Jehovah’s Witness and then finally settled on the Mormon church. (They prefer to be referred to by the full name of the church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

There were times when I was rebellious and didn’t want to go. Often, during my teenage years, my brother and I were responsible for getting ourselves to church. My dad claimed he didn’t care if we went or not. But,

If you can’t make it to Priesthood meeting at 7:00am Sunday morning, you can’t go to the dance Saturday night.

We made it to Priesthood meeting, most Sundays.

Mormon’s believed in lots of meetings. When I joined the church in 1976 the Sunday schedule was

7:00 AM Priesthood Meeting

8:00 AM Sunday School

4:30 PM Sacrament Meeting

And, of course, every school day began with,

6:00AM Seminary (for all four years of high school.)

Several years ago, the church switched to a “consolidated” schedule. A single three-hour block that started at either 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM or 1:00 PM on Sunday morning. Your assigned time changed each year. (Early morning Seminary didn’t change.)

Then, just a couple of years ago the church consolidated even further to a two-hour block. Sunday school moved to alternating weeks with Priesthood meeting. (Seminary, still an hour a day M-F.)

Then, COVID hit and for a while church was cancelled. The Church of Jesus Christ has a lay ministry. I hold the priesthood as do my sons. Every worthy male does. So, the church decided that we could hold at home Sacrament and Sunday School lessons. (Seminary was cancelled, much to the delight of high schoolers everywhere.)

As the world started to open back up, the church went to limited services. People with last names that started with A-L attended in church one Sunday and those M-Z got to attend the following Sunday. And the services were webcast for the half of the congregation that was at home.

Utah, like many states has slowly been opening back up. We are now to the point where 2/3 of the congregation (called a “Ward” in Mormon-speak) can attend in person. The other third watches from home. So, it’s 2 weeks on, one week off.

Last Sunday was our week to watch from home. We had family over visiting. My sons put on ties. The girls wore dresses. And we all sat down to watch the service. And then we waited. And we waited some more. And even longer as the screen showed a taped version of the Choir at Temple Square and a scroll bar said, “Please stand by.”

Eventually, we turned it off, said a family prayer and had lunch.

A year ago, broadcast services were a novelty. Now, they are expected. How quickly we become accustomed to the new normal.

I heard it was a wonderful service.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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