On March 12, 2020 leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that all Sunday gatherings would be temporarily on hold as nations struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. During such exceptional circumstances, bishops may authorize worthy priesthood holders in their wards to prepare and administer the sacrament in their own homes or in the homes of other ward members who do not have a worthy priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder in the home. As explained in the Directions for Essential Ordinances, Blessings, and Other Church Functions: “Individuals and families are blessed when they can hold a private, home-centered Sabbath worship service, in person or remotely. Such worship can include prayers, hymns, and gospel study. When authorized priesthood holder(s) are present, the sacrament may be blessed and passed.” (newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org, April 16, 2020)
What follows is the first of three articles wherein families from different parts of Canada share their home Sunday worship experiences during this time of social distancing.
Submitted by: Sharon Northcott, Winnipeg, Manitoba Stake
Home church for us has meant more quality time together instead of buckled into our car for three hours. For us we created a pulpit from two boxes, covered by a rainbow curtain. We use our piano bench to put the sacrament on, with a white towel, and a white shower curtain to cover it. Home church is seeing the priesthood more active in our home, blessing the sacrament, inviting us to speak, conducting meetings. It is hearing our seven-year-old bear his testimony for the first time. Hearing our eight-year-old want to give talks that she writes herself. It is also seeing the light come on, when we do the Come, Follow Me—For Primary: Book of Mormon 2020 lesson—the children are like - we know this and are excited about it!
Submitted by: Line Laniel, Montreal Quebec Mount-Royal Stake
On Sunday, my husband, my daughter, and I put on our Sunday best and our living room is transformed for a few hours to be a very reverent and sacred place. We sing hymns accompanied by my daughter at the piano; we partake of the sacrament and listen to previous talks from the First Presidency we download from the internet. Following our sacrament meeting, we read the scriptures for the coming week in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020. Sunday has always been a special day for our family, and it is no exception during this pandemic. In fact, I think Sunday is even more special, as days in confinement seem to look all the same. There is no word to describe the spirit that is felt and the gratefulness for the priesthood in our home in such a time.
Submitted by: Marysol Alexandra Root, Calgary North Stake
“I never imagined that in our lifetime we would be doing home church on a regular basis. I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints all of my life, and unless I was extremely sick or recovering from surgery, I had never missed going to a church building to worship on a Sunday.
Sunday is my favourite day of the week: it means that I get the chance to fill my spiritual cup and renew my covenants without worldly disruptions. COVID-19 definitely changed a lot of things, especially my Sundays. However, I think it changed it for the better.
Having church at home made me realize that it wasn’t just His building or that it was Sunday that made me love Sundays. It was more than that. It was that I took the extra time to leave my daily routines and interruptions behind and focus, learn, and remember our Saviour. Becoming closer to my Saviour is what makes Sundays very special to me. I am realizing that whether we are in a building or at home, we can still experience the same feelings of joy our Sabbath day can bring.
We are really enjoying church at home. Getting into our church clothes every Sunday and not having to rush out the door to make it to our building before 9:00 a.m. has definitely been nice. Especially with three daughters and a newborn son.
Some things still haven’t changed: we are still working on making sure everyone stays reverent during our church meetings, even if we are all sitting in comfy couches with pantry snacks only a few feet away.
One of my favourite things to witness during our Sunday services at home is watching my husband David bless and pass the sacrament. There is something so special about such an ordinance being prepared in your own home. I am beyond grateful to have a worthy priesthood holder in our home, especially during these tough times.
We really enjoy watching our eight-year-old twins and six-year-old daughter do opening and closing prayers, picking and conducting our hymns, preparing talks, and participating throughout the whole meeting. It makes us so happy when they know the answers to our many questions during our lessons. I know that their testimonies continue to grow, regardless of whether they are in their regular primary classrooms or at home.
We have a whole new level of appreciation for the gospel—and especially for modern revelation. I am grateful that our Prophet and the Apostles who have been preparing us for a home-centered, Church-supported approach to gospel living. It certainly has made it easier to adjust to our new normal.
Witnessing all of our homes become churches every week, makes me think of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s words in the famous Wentworth letter of 1842 when he wrote: “The standard of truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Miraculous Mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Ensign, Jan. 2019).