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 second of three articles wherein families from different parts of Canada share their home Sunday worship experiences during this time of social distancing.
Submitted by: Wendy Oickle, Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake
It is a great blessing, and we are full of gratitude to have the priesthood authority to bless the sacrament. Each week since the pandemic social distancing measures began, we have been able to receive the Lord’s Sacrament. Michael takes great care in preparing the bread and water. Sometimes the bread is broken into bigger pieces than we are used to at a normal sacrament service. However, the spirit still accompanies Michael as he blesses the bread and water. It is very humbling for us both that this can be done in our home. I have been learning to play the piano. Rather than selecting a hymn from the Church app on my ipad, I play a hymn for us. It is my contribution to inviting the Holy Spirit. After we have received the sacrament, we watch and discuss the latest Book of Mormon Videos as well as a general conference talk. We also visit online with our grown children and their families who live in other parts of the continent.
We feel very blessed, and our testimonies are strong even though we are apart from other members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
Submitted by: T. Griffin, Ottawa Ontario Stake
This Sunday will mark the eighth Sunday of church-at-home. For my family it starts with us gathering around the dining room table for a pre-recorded session of Music & the Spoken Word. Listening to the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square helps to get us in the mood and establish some reverence.
We next sign into Zoom so other members can join in our meeting. Then we are ready for our church-at-home sacrament meeting. Our bishopric sends out a weekly thought via email, and this is read to everyone after an opening song and prayer. We listen to a conference talk by our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. We are grateful that the Church has established the Come-Follow Me resources that give us direction on where to go next in our meeting. We follow the Individuals and Families and the Come, Follow Me—For Aaronic Priesthood Quorums and Young Women Classes: Doctrinal Topics 2020 lesson plans by alternating them week to week. Then, we sing a sacrament hymn with the Aaronic/Melchizedek priesthood preparing the sacrament for our family in the house. After the passing of the sacrament, we have a closing prayer. After our prayer, we share a bit of social time on Zoom for those who have joined our family.
We are grateful for divinely inspired programs that can help us keep and maintain the spirit in our home during this time of self-isolation.
Submitted by: Amy Purnell, Sherwood Park Alberta Stake
I remember Elder Bednar talking about family home evening with his 'active, rambunctious boys.' He said: 'Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as 'He’s touching me!' 'Make him stop looking at me!' 'Mom, he’s breathing my air!' Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking ...Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer … What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent' (“More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” Ensign, Nov. 2009).
I have thought about what Elder Bednar described at general conference as we have embarked upon at-home church. Maybe because I've heard the same exact phrases from my active, rambunctious boys during our attempts to worship on Sundays at home. We aren’t doing anything elaborate. We are following the Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020 lessons and teaching those. We don't always feel successful in our attempts, but we are doing it. The kids like to take turns reading and answering questions. We have all liked and been impressed with the Book of Mormon Videos.
When I asked my children what they like the most about at-home church, they said that they like not having to wear suits and getting to sit on couches. We all agreed that the thing we miss the most about not going to Church is our friends. It has been tough to miss out on those social interactions, but we have also enjoyed having more time to do things together as a family like going for walks and bike rides and playing games together.
I’ve included a photo of our gang from an at-home church meeting. As you can see, our dress code has become more relaxed, but I hope we can maintain perspective on our journey. As Elder Bednar concluded from his experiences in teaching his children, 'The consistency of our intent and work was perhaps the greatest lesson—a lesson we did not fully appreciate at the time' (“More Diligent and Concerned at Home”).