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Thankful for a prophet » Jessop’s Sunday service offers no communion or sacrament — he said families typically do that at home — so when the singing ends he starts reading from the first section, or chapter, of the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of scripture used by both the FLDS and LDS churches.
Jessop reads the scripture in a subdued voice. At times the PA system almost fails to carry his words to the back of the half-empty room. As he reads, two teenage boys in work boots and jeans snap a rubber band at each other and whisper confidentially. The faint clink of a child’s colored pencil hitting the floor echoes throughout the room. Many adults follow along on their smartphones as Jessop reads.
Jessop calls three speakers during the meeting. The first, Janice Knudson, is an elderly woman who begins by expressing gratitude for the fellowship of the congregation.
"I know that our forefathers paid a price for us," she adds.
The story Knudson reads describes a man who lived through the Great Depression. His family members had no money for food, but miraculously strangers brought them flour.
When Knudson finishes, Jessop calls two men to speak. The first, Harold Holm, expresses thanks "for the prophet Joseph Smith" and the other members of the congregation.
"I just hope and pray that Heavenly Father will be pleased with my efforts," Holm adds. "I must stand for truth and honor."
Next is Garth Warner, who sat on the stage several seats away from Jessop. He quotes from the Book of Mormon before turning the pulpit over to Jessop.
Jessop also reads from the Book of Mormon, then announces the final hymn, "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet."
The song expresses gratitude to God for providing someone to "guide us in these latter days" and offers the promise that "when dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us," deliverance "is nigh."
In years past, the song might have been chosen to reflect faith in Jeffs. Today, however, Jessop says he picked it to celebrate LDS Church founder Joseph Smith, the "prophet of this dispensation."
Jessop’s congregation sings it slowly, a rhythmic piano accompaniment echoing from the corner of the room. The adults follow along with battered hymnals from a generation ago. Two teenage girls in long skirts run their fingers over each other’s intricate, tightly pulled braids.
When the song ends, the congregants line up to shake hands with Jessop and the other men sitting at the front. Then they pile back into their large vans and drive home.
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