What To Expect At Church

Mormon wards (congregations) meet for 3-hour blocks of meetings on Sundays. While that might seem like a long time to many people, there is reason we do it: to learn and draw closer to God, and to draw closer to one another.

The 3-hour block is broken into 3 different meetings, with short breaks in between each:

Sacrament Meeting: 75 minutes; Everyone attends together. There is singing, the bread and water is administered, and ward members give talks.

Sunday School: 50 minutes; Children and youth go to age-specific classes, and adults have a class of their own.

Split Classes: 50 minutes; Members split into age- and gender-specific classes to meet.

To find out which Southlake Ward you should attend (and building locations and meeting times), please click here.

Please click on any of the items below to learn more about what to expect at church.

Also see: Videos | 5 Things You Won’t Find | Lay Ministry

Question List

Why Is Your Meeting Called A ‘Sacrament’ Meeting?

The main purpose of the meeting is for each of the members to have an opportunity to partake of the sacrament ordinance. This is done in remembrance of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and is symbolized with broken bread (symbolizing Christ’s broken flesh) and water (symbolizing Christ’s blood). The ordinance is performed each Sunday to give members of the ward an opportunity to think about the atonement of Christ, and to remember the sacred covenants they made when they were baptized. Because the sacrament ordinances are the focus of the meeting, the meeting is called the “Sacrament Meeting.”

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What Happens During Sacrament Meeting?

Here is a general timeline:

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How Is This Congregation Organized?

Local Mormon congregations are called either wards or branches. Wards are typically larger congregations (usually 100 or more members attending), and branches are smaller (fewer than 100). Each ward/branch has geographic boundaries, and all members of the church who live within those boundaries are members of that ward/branch. Groups of 8 to 15 wards and/or braches comprise a larger unit called a stake. Southlake has enough members to form TWO wards, the Southlake 1st Ward (north and east parts of the city) and the Southlake 2nd Ward (south and west parts). To find which ward you belong to, please click here.

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Who Is In Charge Here?

On the local level, each ward has a Bishop (or Branch President for branches) who has stewardship over the members of the ward. The Bishop is chosen by the stake president (a stake is a group of 6 to 15 wards), and also is a volunteer, receives no pay, and serves for a period of generally 3 to 6 years. The Bishop has 2 counselors (together, the three are known as the ‘bishopric’) that help him perform his duties, which include administering the affairs of the ward, counseling with members, assigning ward members to various callings (or responsibilities) within the ward, and the general spiritual welfare of the members. Unless absent on personal business, the Bishop will be present at his ward’s meetings, although he typically will not give a sermon on a given Sunday. One of the members of the Bishopric will generally conduct the meeting.

Besides the Bishop and his counselors, there are leaders and teachers for various age- and gender-specific groups. Each ward has a Relief Society president, who is responsible for the women’s group. Similarly, there are men’s’ groups leaders, youth leaders, and children’s leaders—all of whom are volunteers who are called by the bishop to serve in those various capacities.

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Why Does A Member Of The Congregation Say The Prayer?

A basic tenet of the LDS church is that the members participate in running the ward—including everything from saying prayers, giving talks (sermons), teaching classes, etc. Members of the ward are chosen to give opening and closing prayers each Sunday. They are usually asked a week in advance, and naturally, are under no obligation to participate if they aren’t comfortable doing so. Only active members of the church are usually asked to participate.

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Who Are The People Playing The Organ And Leading The Music?

Again, the many positions of the church—including chorister and organist/pianist—are all staffed by the members of the ward on a voluntary basis. The Bishop is responsible for assigning jobs (referred to as ‘callings’) to each ward member at his (and the bishopric’s) discretion.

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Do I Have To Participate In Singing?

You are under no obligation to sing; however, you may find it to be a good way to put yourself in a good frame of mind for the meeting. Each Sacrament meeting has 3 or 4 congregational hymns (and sometimes an individual or small group performance). The songs in our hymnbook are carefully chosen to enhance the worshiping experience. Don’t worry about not having a good singing voice! Give it a try!

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Why Isn’t There A Rock Band Here?

It’s just not our style; we tend to favor more traditional and reverent forms of worship.

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Why Are People Raising Their Hand To “Vote”? Should I Vote?

Near the beginning of the meeting, a member of the bishopric (or in some cases, a member of the stake high council) may announce new callings or ordinations that affect the ward. If somebody is being ‘released’ from a calling, a vote of thanks will be taken. If a new calling is being issued, the members of the ward/branch will be asked to sustain the person in that calling. Votes of confidence will be manifest by each member of the ward/branch raising their right hand. The congregation will also be asked if anyone is opposed to the proposed calling. If an opposition occurs, that person will be interviewed separately to find out why prior to proceeding with the call. Visitors do not need to raise their hands.

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Is There Anything Special About The Sacrament Song?

Yes. It is always specifically focused on the atonement of Jesus Christ. Listen carefully to the songs as you sing them. The songs are designed to invite the Spirit of the Lord, and to help each member focus his/her thoughts on the Savior.

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Why Are Young People Are Blessing And Passing The Bread And Water?

The Sacrament service is the responsibility of the Aaronic priesthood holders, which is normally comprised of young men between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. Prior to the meeting, the Sacrament is prepared by 14- and 15-year old boys who have been ordained to the priesthood office called ‘teachers.’ They are also responsible for cleaning up after the service. The young men who bless and break the bread and water are typically 16 to 18 years old, and have been ordained as ‘priests’. The boys who pass the Sacrament to the ward/branch members are typically 12 and 13 years old, and have been ordained to an office in the priesthood known as ‘deacons’. Each boy who participates must be ordained to the appropriate office, and must be deemed worthy by the Bishop to handle these sacred duties. If there are not enough young men to staff a given position, others who are older may participate instead.

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It Sounds Like The Sacrament Prayer Was Read. Was It?

Yes. The sacrament prayers are one of only two prayers that are read the exact same way every single time (the other being the baptismal prayer). These prayers were given in the scriptures, and contain very specific language that is important to the members. Listen to the prayer carefully and you will hear an affirmation of covenants made at baptism. To read the prayers, see D&C 20: 77 & 79 and Moroni, Chapters 4 and 5.

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Should I Take The Bread And Water?

The sacrament ordinance is for those who have entered into the covenant of baptism to remember that covenant. Therefore, if you have not been baptized a member of the LDS church, you should not partake of the bread and water. It is still a good opportunity, however, for you to think about the Atonement, evaluate your relationship with Christ, and to feel the Spirit.

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Why Are Members Of The Ward Giving The Talks?

Because there is no professional clergy, the members of the ward/branch are assigned to give the sermons (commonly referred to as simply ‘talks’). This gives each of the members an opportunity to learn and grow as they prepare for and deliver their messages. The bishopric will extend invitations to ward members with two to three weeks’ notice. Naturally, the members are under no obligation to speak, and can decline if they are uncomfortable or unavailable. They typical meeting will consist of one or two youth speakers (average 3 to 5 minute talks) and 1 to 3 adult speakers (average 10 to 20 minutes each). Both male and female speakers are assigned to give talks.

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What Kinds Of Topics Are Covered In The Talks?

The bishopric will generally assign a topic that each of the speakers will elaborate on. Common themes are Christ- and gospel-centered topics such as the atonement, prayer, fasting, forgiveness, scriptural themes, charity, service, family, temples, and so forth. Once per month—usually on the 2nd or 3rd Sunday of the month—a member of the stake high council will be assigned to the various wards in the stake to deliver a talk on a topic assigned by the stake president.

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What Is “Fast And Testimony” Meeting?

Members of the LDS church are asked to fast for two meals on the first Sunday of each month and donate the money to a church fund to help the needy. The purpose of the fast is also to help each of the members increase faith and strengthen their relationship with Christ. Instead of the normally scheduled talks, ward members are invited to share their testimonies as directed by the Spirit. Testimonies are not required to follow any particular format, but are generally 2 to 5 minutes long, and consist of statements of faith and the sharing of faith-promoting experiences. Long narratives and/or travel logs are discouraged. Even very small children are encouraged to bear their testimonies if they feel so inclined. Usually about 10 to 15 testimonies are shared during this meeting.

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Why There Are So Many Loud Children In The Meeting?

We believe that families should worship together, even small children. Some wards with many small children may seem unusually loud to first-time visitors. Parents are encouraged to take crying infants or particularly rowdy young ones into the foyer, but a fair amount of noise from children can be expected in most wards. During the 2nd and 3rd class segments, children are divided into age-appropriate classes and the adults have classes of their own.

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Will There Be A Plate Passed To Collect Donations?

No. Church members, do, however, pay a tithe equal to 10% of their income which is donated either online or through envelopes that can be mailed to the bishop or handed to a member of the bishopric while at church. Non-members and visitors are not expected to pay tithes, but may contribute to the fast offering if they feel so inclined.

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What Scriptures Are Used In Your Meetings?

We use 4 books of scripture: The Holy Bible (King James Version, Old and New Testaments), the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. You may well hear speakers reference any or all of these books during a talk. The Book of Mormon is an ancient scripture that recounts the ministry of spiritual and secular history of inhabitants of ancient America from about 600 BC to about 400 AD, and highlights Jesus Christ’s visit to these people shortly after his resurrection. The book is another testament of Jesus Christ, and is used alongside the Bible for gospel study. The Pearl of Great Price is another ancient scripture that was translated from papyrus that contains accounts of Abraham and Moses. The Doctrine and Covenants is modern day scripture, much of which is revelations from God to the prophet Joseph Smith on matters pertaining to the organization and doctrines of the church.

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What Is Proper Attire For A Church Meeting?

Members are encouraged to wear traditional “Sunday dress” which includes slacks, shirt, and tie for men, and dresses for women. If circumstances don’t allow for you to wear “Sunday dress,” you are welcome to attend our meetings wearing regular clothes. We accept and welcome all attendees in any attire they come in.

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How Will Members Of The Ward React To Me, A Visitor?

Visitors are always welcome in our meetings, and generally visitors will be greeted warmly. If you are comfortable doing so, we encourage you to introduce yourself to our members and let them know you are visiting. After the sacrament meeting, you can also introduce yourself to the Bishop (or bishopric member) who would be happy to meet you.

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Where Do I Go After The Sacrament Meeting?

Sunday school is held after sacrament meeting. To find out where you should go, just ask any member of the ward or branch and they will be happy do direct you to the appropriate classroom. We generally hold a special Sunday School class for visitors and/or new members called “Gospel Essentials” where foundational topics are discussed.

Note: Because our buildings house multiple wards, there may be other wards conducing meetings in the same building at the same time. If you’re not sure where to go, just ask any member for clarification.

During the 3rd hour, members attend “split classes.” The women attend a meeting called “Relief Society,” and the men meet in men’s classes. Similarly, the youth attend gender and age-specific classes. Children under 12 years old meet in “Primary” classes during both the 2nd and 3rd hours.

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What Other Special Meetings Are There?

There are 4 times per year when our Sunday meeting schedules are different than normal. Each year on the 1st weekend of both April and October, the LDS Church holds a worldwide “General Conference” from church headquarters in Salt Lake City. For a detailed overview of what happens at General Conference, please read this. Members are not expected to travel to Salt Lake City to participate; rather, they are encouraged to watch the proceedings from home via television (BYU TV) or via the internet (www.LDS.org).

In addition to General Conference, members also participate in Stake Conference two times per year—for the Southlake Wards, this is usually during February and August. Stake Conference is a 2-day event held on a local, stake level (a stake consists of multiple wards). During that weekend, regular church meetings are not held.

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Still Have Questions?

Feel free to use the chat function on this website, or call the number listed on this page. If you are at church and have questions, just ask any member for help!

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