This Week in Mormons is the real No Spin Zone.™ Some publications might tantalize you with headlines about how “Mormon women will have a role in planning Sunday services,” but guess what, it’s not just Mormon women, it’s Mormon Ward Council members. Everybody, folks. That’s right the onus is now on the entire ward council to plan sacrament meeting.
To clarify, if doing things strictly by-the-book, the only counsel regarding planning a ward’s sacrament meeting is that bishoprics set the agenda, call the speakers, etc. I’ve been in loads of wards that have long since expanded on that idea by including the entire ward council in the process, especially in setting annual themes for sacrament meetings, taking suggestions for speakers, etc.
Now, according to Church spokesman Eric Hawkins, the more inclusive process of opening up sacrament meeting planning to the entire ward council is being formalized. Via a training video recorded in April, bishoprics have been counseled to broaden the scope of participants in planning sacrament meetings.
But to be clear, the ward council is not the Relief Society president + bishopric. Below is a list of everyone potentially involved in this process, though your individual wards and branches may vary:
- Relief Society president
- High priests group leader
- Elders quorum president
- Sunday school president
- Ward mission leader
- Young women’s president
- Young men’s president
- Primary president
- Communications chair
- Ward clerks and secretaries
- … and more!
So as you see, yes, women are officially and delightfully included in the process, but so is that happy, engaged young men’s president. I like to see this not just as a women’s issue, but as a general ward collaboration issue. That’s not to diminish official sanctioning of female involvement in Sunday planning – it’s wonderful – but let’s not act is if the Relief Society is suddenly in charge of sacrament meeting. As a current elders quorum president, I, too, am happy to be granted official involvement.
Perhaps more interestingly, the training video officially dissuades wards from adopting the “reverse” schedule, as I call it, which means sacrament meeting comes at the end of the three-hour block. I don’t know about any of you, but I have never liked being in wards with sacrament meeting at the end. It always feels so weird and anticlimactic.
Also, local leaders have been asked to help members improve Sabbath day observance, “at church and at home,” which is awesome. Personally – and this really is just a matter of opinion and preference – I think we’ve gotten a bit loose with Sabbath observance, myself included. It’s supposed to be a day apart from the rest of the week, not just another day off.
If your ward has been slow to embrace input from the entire ward council on issues such as sacrament meeting, well now you have an official directive. To those of you who have already been doing this, bully for you. Either way, it’s another step in improved ward cohesion and administration.
H/T: Salt Lake Tribune