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 third of three articles wherein families from different parts of Canada share their home Sunday worship experiences during this time of social distancing.
Submitted by: Sarah Mosaico, Sherwood Park Alberta Stake
Describing what at-home church looks like for our family of four young boys initially had the uncomfortable feel of making a confession. We don’t have written programs, elaborate home-made visuals aids, and we most certainly don’t have cooperation from the congregants (the toddler’s shrill screaming accompanies the entire sacrament portion of our meeting, as he attempts to claim every single portion of water on the tray). I’m sure all can relate, as every individual and family have their own unique challenges to their at-home worship.
Our sacrament meeting is brief and includes an opening song, administration of the sacrament, brief message, and closing prayer. We encourage the boys to reflect on the feelings they have during this time—a preliminary skill for learning the voice of the Spirit. I believe this intimate setting of a distilled sacrament experience has enhanced our children’s ability to recognize feelings of the Spirit.
This brief sacrament meeting is then encompassed in a day full of enriching Sabbath observance that is age-appropriate, such as connecting digitally with extended family, family history activities, uplifting videos and songs, or going for a walk.
Submitted by: Jessica Jahn, Abbotsford British Columbia Stake
Our family is enjoying the opportunity to hold sacrament service in the intimacy of our own home. To demonstrate respect for the Sabbath and for the holiness of the ordinance, we dress in Sunday clothes and gather in our living room, where the sacrament is blessed and passed.
We love being able to discuss gospel topics more thoroughly, with more relevance to our own lives, and in the comfort of a loving family atmosphere. One of our most special meetings occurred during Easter, as each member of our family bore testimony of our Saviour and what His atoning sacrifice means to them.
Most memorable is our meeting inspired by Elder Neil L. Andersen’s conference message to use “spiritually defining moments” as steppingstones that will light our path throughout life (“Spiritually Defining Memories,” Ensign, May 2020). We each wrote down and shared an experience when we felt the influence of the Holy Ghost. Not only did we feel the Spirit, but we learned more about each other. We decided to create a collection of family spiritual memories the children can bring with them and refer to as they grow and begin their own families. With two daughters approaching a time when they will begin their own homes, we are so grateful for and cherish this time together, when we can focus on what matters most.
Submitted by: Leisha Nabrotzky, Kitchener Ontario Stake
Our at-home church has been a really wonderful experience for our young family. We have three active little girls ages six, three, and one, and having church at home has actually brought a significant change in the Spirit we feel as we prepare and partake of the sacrament. Since it’s just us, the blessing and passing of the sacrament only takes a matter of minutes, but the girls are much more reverent and aware of what’s going on. They are watching their father bless and pass the sacrament only a few feet in front of them.
The very first time we had sacrament at home, I felt the Spirit so strongly, more than I’ve ever felt at Church. Usually someone is acting up and has to be taken to the hall, or someone needs the bathroom, or their quiet toys are becoming more distracting and we’re trying to get them quiet again. At home their short attention spans are able to focus for those brief moments, and there is truly a sense of peace and reverence in our home. I cherish these precious moments each week.
Sometimes my husband shares a spiritual message, or one of our girls picks a picture or scripture story they want to tell us about as our “talk.” This past week we went for a family walk and had church outside as we participated in a virtual testimony meeting with our ward. We let the girls lead us in a Primary “music time” where they pick their favorite songs, and we just sing along until we’re all sung out.
Some weeks we video chat with other family members around the world; some weeks it’s just us. Our ward has been doing virtual Sunday School lessons for the adults, and I have found this a wonderful blessing as I’m able to discuss with friends the gospel truths we have been studying all week from Come Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020.
I am so grateful for this time we have been given to really gain a stronger testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t about the buildings or the programs, but it’s about faith and works and just doing our best in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.