An Hour of Peace and Rest

Lisa Ray Turner church, Culture, sacrament meeting 53 Comments

I usually enjoy going to church. I look forward to it, despite talks that are occasionally less-than-dazzling, overly-perfumed women in the pew in front of me, and the family in the third row that refuses to take their baby out, even when she screams during the sacrament. There’s one pet peeve, though, that irritates me every week. Drives me crazy. Every week without fail. The noise level in the chapel before the meeting starts. Sometimes I feel more like I’m at a football game than at church.

This is a uniquely Mormon issue, from what I’ve seen. I have sung in lots of other churches, been a choir director for another congregation for several years, and attended meetings at many churches of many denominations. At all of these churches, the members come to the meeting and quietly sit in the sanctuary. They do not talk with their friends. They do not high-five each other (yes, I’ve seen this in our ward). They do not run around the chapel doing last-minute preparation for lessons. They don’t slap each other on the backs or call to someone across the room. They don’t laugh loudly or walk up and down the aisle shaking hands. They just sit and listen to the prelude music. Though I can’t know what’s in their minds, I assume they’re feeling the spirit of the Sabbath, meditating or getting in the mood for worship.

Why don’t we do the same? Are we naturally a more gregarious and social bunch? Do we love each other so much we’re overjoyed to see our friends? Are we starved for socialization that we use the ten minutes before the meeting? Are we simply rude? Do we have lousy organists whose music isn’t worth listening to? Is it because we’re irreverent and disrespectful? What’s up with this awful habit?

Whatever the reason, it seems a losing battle. I’ve been in meetings where the stake president or bishop has stood up and asked people to be quiet. There’s a hush … for about 45 seconds. My son attended a fireside where Elder Bednar finally stood and asked the congregation to be quiet – after two admonitions by the other general authority in attendance. I’ve been in meetings where the organist has made the organ quieter, or louder, or stopped altogether, to demand the audience’s attention. No deal.

I feel bad for organists who practice every week, only to provide religious elevator music. Our behavior seems particularly rude towards them. One time my husband, who’s an organist, played the theme song of Mickey Mouse, just to see if anybody would notice. Nobody did.

I also feel sorry for anybody who’s trying to prepare themselves for meaningful worship. The hand-shakers, back-slappers, and greeters will come welcome them, often loudly. Neighbors will sit down and chat with them, often loudly. A Sunday School or priesthood teacher may come and ask them to prepare a scripture or story for the lesson an hour or two later. And all of these episodes will be accompanied by the ever-present din of laughter, chitchat … and the occasional high-five.

This is our most significant gathering of the week, the time for our holiest ordinance. Is it too much to ask to enjoy a few moments of peace at the beginning of the meeting?

Comments

comments

Comments 53

  1. I see two sides to this issue.

    I once worked with an investigator who would come to our ward and talk excitedly about how Mormons felt like a real religious community, or extended family, because they were able to be themselves and excitedly talk back and forth before and after the service. He likened our services to orthodox Jewish services in the way children are involved, and that normal family noises such as children bumping about and babies crying are a welcome and expected part of the worship service.

    I experience the opposite of this every year when we visit an Episcopalian church for a Christmas service. The church serves a demographic where the congregation for a mainline church is decidedly older and children seem to be a rarity. When we brought our two under-5s last year they were the only children in the sanctuary and several old ladies made the scowls in our direction increasingly obvious at the slightest peeps from the kids.

    (That church has a wonderful place, though, where I eventually took the kids – the back of the sanctuary is glassed in and soundproofed, with the sound system piped in but nothing coming out. That way you can both see and hear the service while the kids are screaming their heads off.)

    I think there is a middle ground here, just wanted to point out that there is something to be said for the informal noise of our weekly services.

  2. I wonder about the basis for the presumption that silence is more holy than noise.

    I understand the concept of reverence. I understand that when friends and family meet, they are excited to see each other. I understand there is a time and place for everything.

    What is the “noise” before our church meetings begin and after they end? It’s friends and family members being social, talking with each other, laughing with each other, telling each other about their week, etc.

    So often we hear laments about how boring and dull Mormon culture is. So I have a hard time jumping on a bandwagon that would make us more stodgy and boring. I’m tempted to begin using the term “Librarian Complex” to describe people who are bothered by noise in between our church meetings.

    People make noise when we get together. That’s inevitable and it’s good. True, it needs to come to a stop when the meeting begins, but before and after that, let’s lighten the mood and lighten up.

  3. Andrew,

    I agree.

    Lisa,

    If our holiest ordinance is one of the first things we do in sacrament meeting, why are we filling up the time with so much preaching? I think we pay lip service to the sacrament itself being holy, and quietness is expected then. But why should we meditate to prepare ourselves for our neighbors cut-and-pasted talk from articles in the Ensign or travelogues delivered in a monotone? I mean, that’s the majority of the time in sacrament meeting, folks.

    I have argued on this blog that we could have a monthly meeting with a focus on music and a short sermon modeled on Music and the Spoken Word. Maybe that would be seen as a little more special. Until then, expect quietness only from temple service.

    As an added rant, actions like Elder Bednar’s (shushing the crowd) bug me. Don’t preach meeting attendance AND multiply and replenish the earth AND shush me and my family. Ain’t fair, no way, no how. That’s what we should expect.

  4. I too have long wondered why the presumption is that silence is holier than noise, especially in a religion that preaches that human beings are important. If anything church should be noisier. And no, I’m not being facetious.

    Seems to me the demarcation of “quiet time” is at the start of the opening hymn, which was usually horrific to my ears (my son would cry–he has perfect pitch and couldn’t stand hearing church singing.) Do we move quiet time forward one minute, two, ten? How about the moment you step on church property? Heck, why not make being silent from midnight to midnight on Sunday mandatory? (Okay, if you have kids, that might be a relief.)

  5. Now that John brought it up, taking the sacrament is not an ordinance. The blessing of the sacrament is. The sacrament is nothing more than a symbolic renewal of our baptismal covenants. It has no intrinsic efficacy. (Argue with me all you want, but you’ll never change my mind on this one and I’m a heretic–Mormons aren’t Catholics.)

  6. Wow, I’m surprised by the comments. I agree that the talks are frequently terrible, but that doesn’t lead to the conclusion that acting as though you’re at a basketball game before (and sometimes during) the meeting is ok. And while it’s nice that we’re a gregarious people, why does that gregariousness have to occur in the chapel? Talking outside in the halls is fine with me, but the chapel is supposed to be a place for contemplation and worship. Why can’t we have one place reserved for that? I’m not a great missionary, but one time that I did take a Catholic friend to church with me, he was really turned off by the general din before, and during the meeting. It didn’t seem to him that the purpose of the meeting was worship or instruction, but just a thin excuse for a long chat.

  7. I think it’s a result of the cultural conflation of “reverence” and “silence”. There is a place for both, and I personally would like to see “silence” (among adults) in the endowment and during the administration of the sacrament, “quiet reverence” in our chapels generally and “noisy reverence” in the rest of the building – with the exception of some of the Primary time, where “reverence” shouldn’t enter the discussion. I believe kids should learn “quiet reverence” and “silence” for appropriate times, but that nobody should expect silence from them for any extended period of time.

    Also, as an aside, I sometimes forget that my current ward is not typical of many wards. Our reverence in the chapel overall tends to be very good, and it is extremely reverent during the administration of the sacrament. When the ONLY sounds that can be heard are the sounds of the infants and youngest children, it is a wonderful experience. It took a couple of years of explicit attention by our former bishop, but the result has been remarkable.

  8. I think it is good for LDS to have the social, talkative, community, familial spirit they do — it’s part of the faith experience. It is unfortunate that the worship does not proceed authentically from this reality. To the extent that praise and worship *must* be a serious, quiet affair, I agree there is a mismatch in atmosphere and behavior.

    Indeed, Christian denominations who have a similar attitude about reverence do tend to have the community atmosphere contained elsewhere — like coffee before or after in a different place than the main sanctuary. And, they especially do a bit better since young children do not usually sit through adult-oriented services. However, there are also many denominations or churches where praise, peace and worship are more energized, and still quite valid and authentic expressions of reverence.

    Maybe many chatty LDS would make poor Methodists, but there are other places where they could feel right at home. (And that may be their own faith experience.)

  9. I think I’m more in the camp of those who like the congenial atmosphere prior to the meeting. It feels really welcoming and like a break from the world to greet the people in the ward that one day per week, like a big extended family. I haven’t seen any high fives or chest bumping or whatever, so maybe my ward is just not as over-the-top as yours. Perhaps there is a happy medium.

    I for one think that’s a draw to like-minded individuals. I can understand why it might be unfamiliar or “weird” to someone from a different background. My husband and I always joke when we drive past the Catholic church and the local mega-church on our way to our ward that if we switched to one of those churches, no one would notice if we didn’t show up one week, unlike in our ward. I’m not there for the social aspect, but it is like a family.

  10. JfQ – we were typing at the same time it seems. I did want to point that out, too. I like the talkative friendly atmosphere of the ward members more than I like the cold business-like manner of the meeting itself. Aside from the sacrament, it’s like being back at work, only more structured. There’s got to be a way to improve that.

  11. I think its great to see excitement of members at entering the chapel (especially for what may be a potentially boring sermon). Greeting visitors, seeing friends, carrying in stuff for your Sunday callings, all good. Sometimes that results in a deafening roar and it can definitely cross the line. The already under-appreciated organist would most likely feel more appreciated if she/he didn’t have to press the volume pedal so she/he could hear the music they she/he is playing.

  12. hawkgrrl — yeah I don’t think I’m quite right to say that the worship experience doesn’t proceed authentically from the talkative atmosphere. I think a lot of it does. What I mean to say is I don’t think the reverence and worship ‘standard’ or ‘ideal’ proceeds authentically. If the LDS church wishes to remain an age-inclusive faith-worship experience I think there are ways they could more authentically embrace what comes with having a complete, warm, family worship experience — make it even more of a competitive distinctive. And lighten up on giving parents a hard time for noise or subtly encouraging them to rear adults who mentally check out as a way of coping with colder, business-like formalities.

  13. About 18 years ago I served as Bishop in a California ward. The Bishop that served prior to my tenure was very structured & fastidious. He absolutely would not allow conversations above whispers in the chapel for the last 10 minutes before meeting time. He required that his counselors be sitting on the stand on each side of him for those full 10 minutes prior to meeting as ‘examples of reverence.’ If he so much as heard a single person talking out loud, even a child; he would immediately rise to the pulpit and remind the congregation in a surly & condescending manner to ‘whisper & disdain from speaking out loud in the Lord’s house.’ It felt as if we were getting ready for a funeral instead of sacrament meeting.

    The Bishop’s company transferred him to another city in the East so, he needed to be released & I was put in as Bishop. The VERY first thing I did as the new Bishop was invite the members to get up out of their seats during those 10 minutes prior to meeting & go greet one another and especially any visitors. I told my counselors that I hoped that not one of us showed up on our ‘Holy Stand of Rameumpton’ until 2-3 minutes before meeting start. Those are our brothers & sisters ‘down there’ & we need to be ‘down there’ with them letting them know that we sincerely love them dearly.

    18 years later I am now a second counselor in a Bishopric in more of a mission-field setting in Texas. The Bishop here is a little bit like the Bishop I replaced in California those 18 years ago. He asked me to be his second counselor because of the many years I have had in leadership. Neither he nor I see eye to eye on this reverence issue and we both have strong personalities so, we agreed to disagree however; we have taken it a friendly step further than simply agreeing to disagree.

    We noticed that the ward is pretty well split on this reverence matter & so we have decided that when he conducts we will be rather stoically reverent prior to meetings. When I conduct we are talkative & gregarious with one another & yes, we do have to rein ourselves in every now & then but, the warmth & friendliness is sweet. We have explained this process to the ward & they have adopted the two styles very nicely. One side giving into sober reverence during the month Bishop conducts & the other giving into typical Mormon Chit-Chat friendliness when I conduct. When members of the congregation asked the first counselor where he stood on the issue he wisely ‘plead the fifth.’
    After about two years of this trade-off process, most of us see the value in each & are very happy to have a chance at both in their season.

    I still don’t like sitting up on that ‘Holy Stand of Rameumpton’ high over the congregation; anyone have a workable remedy for this particular kind of nonsense?

  14. I would sure love to see the same type of attitude of #13 taken to the bulk of sacrament meeting sans the sacrament ordinance. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were different tones to sacrament meetings depending on who was conducting? You could have your normal sacrament meetings with talks, you could have your Music and the Spoken word-like meetings, you could have more academic meetings, you could have revival camp meetings, you could have more of discussion-type meetings, etc. etc. I really think it could open up sacrament meeting worship!

  15. Wow. Just wow. I agree with Lisa Ray 100%. If sacrament meeting is supposed to be the highlight of our regular worship, then we need some continuity before, during and after. Maybe it’s because I love the music, and that we have a really talented organist, but the banal babbling that precedes our sacrament meetings can’t hold a candle to “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” or “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” And if y’all are running your mouths, I can’t hear the beautiful music even if I want to.

    I was raised Catholic. I attended Mass with my parents from my earliest memories. When we walked into church, we were quiet from the moment we entered the sanctuary until the moment we left. It was a matter of respect for the space and its purpose.

    No wonder sacrament meeting sucks so often. People come in jabbering away, then suddenly the conductor stands up and whoosh! Quick, get into a spiritual frame of mind! Like that’s going to work.

  16. If I read this post to my oldest son, he would comment on the wonders of duct tape.

    For the record, he did not learn of those wonders from me or my wife – or by application on any of his siblings.

  17. We sort of had this discussion about eating and drinking in church and I seem to recall that people then came down on the same sides as they do now. Eaters thought noise was ok and non eaters didn’t like noise. To me it has to do with what we mean by worship. I personally don’t feel much in the mood to worship when the bishop steps up to open the meeting and the noise suddenly switches off and then gets turned back on again at the end of the sacrament but that’s just me. If there isn’t a happy medium then the noisy ones will win out because there’s more of them and the quite ones will get quieter and more aggravated making sacrament meeting harder and harder to tolerate.

  18. Since I didn’t weigh in on eating in sacrament, or church, previously (or least, I don’t remember doing so–if I did, I’ll blame my migraine medication and leave it at that), let me give my two cents now.

    I don’t mind some talking. I don’t mind some greeting of friends, but I do think it should be done at a moderate volume (or even a whisper) and it should be done in such a way as to quickly inform the person of your presence, take care of anything, catch up quickly, and then move on.

    I think what I see is this: during the week my wife has a chance to catch up with friends in the ward. She meets other women at the park with the kids, she talks to them on the phone and now she meets the primary presidency in meetings on occasion. I don’t. So when I get to church I’m hungry for social interaction. If I were a drinker or bar-attender, I might get this type of socialization by going out to ‘hang-out’ with the guys at work or whatever, but since I’m not, the majority of my social life is limited to time at church. This means that I’m hungry for someone to talk to face to face by the time I hit the ward building on Sunday morning.

    That’s a problem I think more than a few of us face, especially if we are reasonably new to an area like I am. Given that we are a social bunch, but lack the necessary out of church activities for men, the men are generally the culprits at church because they aren’t getting enough social time in an appropriate manner. This is why Elder’s Quorums NEED to do service in a very aggressive fashion–to provide a social outlet for the men in a way that is meaningful. I think I’ve also hit on part of the reason for home teaching. I wonder if there’s a hidden correlation between how noisy a ward is and how well the home teaching program is going (it would technically be a negative correlation–noisier wards having poorer home teaching and vice versa).

    Just some random thoughts from a social psych geek.

  19. I wonder if we’ve come to view the Temple as our ‘sanctuary’ or quiet place and the chapel as our noiser friendship place.

  20. For me, having the opportunity to converse and socialize with my fellow ward members is an essential part of, rather than simply a fringe benefit of, my Sunday worship. Having the oppoturtunity to talk with them draws us closer to one another, which is (to my mind, at least) one of the primary purposes of joining together in the first place. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, on many Sundays, I’m more uplifted by the socializing than the talks. And there’s no way around it, kids = noise, period. Sure, we parents can do our best to keep our little one quiet, but there’s no magic formula.

  21. So, most of you are going to Sacrament Meeting to chat? Not for the worship? All this time I thought I was an old apostate since I hate the meetings. 🙂

    Seriously, I see nothing wrong with greeting friends and catching up a bit at church– but it should not be in the chapel before, after or during meetings. Some people, apparently a dying breed, have a desire to go to church to be spiritually fed, to contemplate and to feel the spirit. My elderly parents for example. They quit going to Sacrament Meeting a few years ago, partly because of health problems, but partly because they’d been nearly trampled in the rush between wards to get in and out of the chapel, and because with bad hearing, and hearing aids, they had a very hard time hearing the meeting. Good grief, you’ve got the rest of the three hour block– you can’t be quiet before and during the meeting? I’m not talking about kid noises– well except for repeated screechers who aren’t taken out after awhile.

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    Go, Paula. 🙂
    I have no problem with kids’ noises either. I don’t know many people who do. And I certainly don’t want a sterile, silent environment. I’m just saying it often gets way out of hand, at least in my current ward. My son came home from college, where he attends a student ward, and he was shocked by the noise level. And again, not the kids.
    I agree with Ann in #16 who talked about the music. We have a wonderful organist. This woman has a masters degree in organ and she spends several hours every week preparing music for sacrament meeting. But often it literally can’t be heard. My spiritual inspiration and insights most often come from music, not from the talks, and definitely not from chatter.
    Just for the record, I am very social. I like to talk to people. I talk to lots of people at church every week and thoroughly enjoy that aspect of being a member of a ward. But, like Paula says, there’s time outside the chapel before and after meetings. I wish we had more time for socializing actually. I love the idea of linger-longers and coffee hours. (Hot chocolate hours?) Building and meeting schedules make those things difficult. It’s a multi-faceted problem.

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  24. I’m gonna get attacked for this but…

    There is the foyer if you want to talk and socialize. The Chapel is the Lords house and should be treated as such!! Would you go around yelling (or even talk louder then a whisper) if you were in His presence? I doubt it! The sounds of children are great and welcomed but when they are screaming and carrying on to the point you can hear the speaker its time for the parent to remove them from the chapel. Come on people, be responsible, we are their to learn and be enlighten, is that truely possible with a lot of extra noise??

  25. Patrick,

    I agree with your main point, but . . .

    “Would you go around yelling (or even talk louder then a whisper) if you were in His presence?”

    You bet I would. If I saw him outside the temple or the chapel, I’d probably yell his name – and then tell him the latest Mormon joke I had heard. Somehow, I think he would laugh – even if he didn’t think it was funny. He was God, but he also was man. Sometimes we forget that.

  26. “The chapel is the Lord’s house”?

    I thought the temples were the House of the Lord, “a place for him to lay his head”?

    They aren’t called meetinghouses for nothing. For crying out loud, folks, most of these buildings have basketball courts for goodness sakes!

  27. Ray, I think we forget that he was and is more than man. Would he laugh at a joke probably… in the right place and time…

  28. Pingback: Quiet and reverence in the Chapel - LDS Mormon Forums

  29. #27 Ray

    If that is your way to greet our Savior, fine, it is you free agency .

    But as for me, I would not yell or throw out a mormon joke to Him but rather fall to His feet and cry all the tears in my body and thank Him softly for His great love for me.

    I speak His holy name reverently and with grand respect and love.
    I treat His house with the same.

    I don’t consider try to explain the behaviors of others as it does this by itself and certainly don’t try to justify this or that.

    My choice, my level of understanding, my goal, my respect for the member playing music before meeting and for all those reading their scriptures before the meeting starts is always the highest I can give as is my goal , to be with Heavenly Father in the highest of degrees.

    The reverence that should prevail in the chapel is just that…reverence should prevail.

    Having 6 children, my husband and I are quick to remind them where they are when the voice was higher the a very quiet whisper.

    Noise offends the spirit.

    I am so greatful for the reverence in the temple. Of that there is no debate and yet we are so many and how joyful we are when we all meet in the celestial room 🙂

    with love

    Marie

  30. “Noise offends the spirit.”

    Sorry, but I don’t buy this for a second. My infant’s cries or shrieks of joy “offend” Diety? Really?

    I can’t imagine that the audiences listening to the Savior teach lived up to the silence standard many seek to impose here. He was greeted by teeming masses, not nice orderly congregations. Can folks take their conviviality too far? Just like everything else in life, the answer is yes. But that fact shouldn’t dissuade the rest of us from enjoining in spirited and occasionally loud worship.

  31. OK, not to be antagonistic, but what constitutes “noise”? (It’s the lawyer in me — I loved defined terms.) And if a child’s cry is not “noise,” what is it? Is it acceptable?

  32. I’m a mother of three and a child crying is definitely noise, especially my own children because I might be obligated to take action. But I’d rather not have parents go inactive for the 10-20 years they may have youngsters in tow.

    Shawn – here’s the dictionary definition on “noise”:

    1. sound, esp. of a loud, harsh, or confused kind: deafening noises. I don’t think we’re talking about this one. Seems like all would agree this goes too far.
    2. a sound of any kind: to hear a noise at the door. This hits closer to the mark for those who feel silence = reverence.
    3. loud shouting, outcry, or clamor. This covers the kids squawking.
    4. a nonharmonious or discordant group of sounds. Ditto number 3.
    5. an electric disturbance in a communications system that interferes with or prevents reception of a signal or of information, as the buzz on a telephone or snow on a television screen. I suspect this is more to the heart of what the post is concerned about, although the debate seems to center on whether the spirit can get through or not. For some it can, for others not so much.
    6. Informal. extraneous, irrelevant, or meaningless facts, information, statistics, etc.: The noise in the report obscured its useful information. Similar to #5.

    There is a disabled girl in our ward who makes loud noises through the entire service, the talks, the sacrament, everything. At first I found it distracting, but I don’t even notice it any more. Our ward cares for this family and their child. We are just glad they are there. Sometimes it’s human nature to have patience for children and the disabled, but when adults do things we don’t like, it’s easy to judge them and let those judgments disrupt our worship. Isn’t that the noise that’s really getting in the way?

  33. Thank you, Lisa, for this post. Having raised four (very noisy) children, I understand the viewpoint of those who like the noise. However, I also agree that is mostly the adult noises that are offensive in the chapel, and they are certainly the most easily controlled.
    I am a lifelong member of the Church, but because of my sensitivity to perfumes I am unable to attend meetings anymore. I still have social contact with several ward members who call or email, and the internet gives me multiple oportunities to interact with other church members socially and doctrinally. However, the thing I miss the most is the act of group worship–sitting in the chapel with others and feeling of the Spirit as we listen, sing and meditate together.
    Each ward has its own personality, influenced by the leadership, the group dynamics and the local culture. I believe our concern for others should be our primary motivator when it comes to chapel behavior. Surely there is a middle ground where most members of a ward can be made to feel comfortable, but this requires compromise from everyone.

  34. *sigh*

    #30 (Patrick) – I said He is God. I said he also is man. What you said essentially is the EXACT same point I made, only from the opposite side of the coin.

    *sigh*

    #31 (Marie) – Patrick’s comment did not imply a reaction **at the moment of first meeting Jesus** – nor did it imply in the chapel or the temple. It was, “Would you go around yelling (or even talk louder then a whisper) if you were in His presence?” I’m sorry if this offends you, but if I am in His presence IN THE WAY THAT THE QUESTION IMPLIES, I am not meeting Him for the first time. In THAT scenario, He is my FRIEND as well as my Lord. You bet I’d call out him name and share a joke or two. I’ve heard my mother, one of the most spiritual persons I’ve ever met, tell the Father a joke during a prayer – because that’s the type of relationship they have.

    Everyone:

    Not to get snitty, but reading ALL of the comments prior to commenting helps tremendously. I say that because . . .

    I said in my very first comment that I believe in silence when appropriate, quiet reverence when appropriate, and noisy reverence when appropriate. I specified SILENCE in the temple and during the sacrament and quiet reverence in the chapel generally. I also said that children should learn BOTH silence and quiet reverence when appropriate. Reading all of the comments prior to commenting would have made that clear.

    To be crystal clear, my SIX children are among the quietest, most reverent children in our ward. I have taught them why; they understand.

    Sorry for the rant. This was just an egregious example of why all comments need to be read before challenging what someone says.

  35. This is an interesting topic and it got me to thinking: What do I really go to church for? I know I’m supposed to say that it is for the sacrament, but really, I think, it’s for the association of like-minded individuals and to catch up on this and that, to see to the needs of my calling. I love being with people that are so different than me in many ways, that have their own set of problems and concerns, and yet I can identify with and take strength from their examples. We are commanded to meet together “oft” (I don’t know chapter and verse) and “edify one anther”. I think that maybe edification is just another word for mutual support. I know these people, I know that many times they’d rather be someplace else on Sunday, as would I, but because of their commitment to the gospel and the Savior, there they are. So noise is generally a non-issue for me, because it’s part of what I’m there for and because I cause my fair share of it. I do think we should be more restrained when in the chapel that we are sometimes and that a little common sense would go a long ways in that regard. Of course, when talking about common sense, we all know how uncommon it is!

    The other thought that occured to me is that, for me, true worship is usually a solitary endeavor. Whether it be scripture study, riding down the road alone talking to myself and the Lord, or even in a group setting, confirmations and thanks are usually received and rendered silently. Church, per se, has little to do with it for me. I guess it’s like they say about baptism: An outward sign of an inward commitment. Meetings for me are an outward sign of a desire to do what Heavenly Father wants of me, even when it’s noisy.

  36. Fwiw, I believe that people often are “converted” to teachings (“The Gospel”) or to associations (“The Church”). I believe the strongest ties occur when one is converted to BOTH. That way, “doctrinal issues” (like those we discuss here) can be mitigated by friendships and other human relationships (like a John Dehlin or the Bloggernacle, for example), while “human issues” (like offenses or the nutty lady who bears the exact same testimony every month for 10 minutes while everyone pretends there is something else that needs their concentration) can be mitigated by remembrance of spiritual witnesses. When either is lacking, it is MUCH easier to drift or run away.

  37. Btw, I apologize if #39 was a bit harsher than usual from me. I just got done with a very frustrating (and LONG) conversation with the phone company, and my efforts to be merciful this month fell through the crack in the ice, I’m afraid.

  38. Ray, you just had to say that you talked to the phone company within the past week and all your sins will be forgiven.

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    Catherine WO, I’m sorry about your inability to attend meetings because of your sensitivity to perfumes. Group worship is indeed very powerful, and sometimes we don’t remember that until we can’t do it. Your post is a good reminder to appreciate being able to worship together with other like-minded people (or even sort-of-like-minded folks).

  40. Catherine, somehow I missed #38 – which is the height of irony, given my “read all of the comments” rant.

    Thank you for putting this discussion into the proper perspective. Sometimes we lose sight of the beauty simply of being able to “gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing”. I hope you can feel the Spirit in whatever interactions are available to you.

    Have you asked your Bishop to authorize a regular group gathering of a selected few who understand and can accommodate your need – to administer the sacrament and share spiritual thoughts, talks and testimonies? It would function much like a family or two in some missions where there are not enough members to constitute an official “unit”. He might have concerns about “exempting” some members from “regular” church attendance, but perhaps those who met with you could do so before meeting with the rest of the ward and then attended their other meetings . . . or just meet with you if that would not be too much of a hardship on the ward.

    You’ve probably considered all the options, so that suggestion might be redundant, but I thought I at least should ask.

  41. Here’s a slant: I have asked whether a church speaker is responsible to any degree for the spirit of worship of the attendee? Many members answer that an attendee is responsible for their experience regardless of the speeches.

    Relating this to church reverence, it could also be asked: Should members who prefer quiet (or members who prefer sociality) be responsible to worship independently from what is going on around them? In other words, let the quiet be quiet; let the social be social–both generating a positive experience regardless of their surroundings. Is this even possible?

  42. IQ92, the problem with letting us make our own environment is that (like Lisa) the music is a very important part of my worship environment – maybe the most important. If I can’t hear it over the chatter, then I’m pretty much out of luck.

  43. Pingback: Quiet and reverence in the Chapel - Page 2 - LDS Mormon Forums

  44. Ann, I agree with you. In his 1898 book, Preaching and Public Speaking, Prof. Nielsen of the Brigham Young Academy wrote: “We take it as a sign of the true church that Mormons continue to attend their meetings despite the public speaking.” …or, in this case, the lack of reverence.

    In most wards and branches, Bishops and their Counselors use prelude time to roam the congregation to greet people. Is this recommended or simply tradition? Maybe they should set an example by greeting people in the foyer?

  45. Good manners and decorum. Etiquette. Responsible parenting. All appear to be attributes of the past. I am elderly. I am epileptic and the noise level in my new ward induces seizures so i am unable to attend. Must i remain honebound for the lack of good manner and sensitivity to the needs of others?

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