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Nearly four years ago, we wrote about church leaders giving the green light to girls passing the sacrament, or Communion, inside the women’s nursing room.
This shift went a step or two beyond the common practice of members passing a tray of bread or water to the person sitting next to them.
“It is appropriate,” a church spokesperson said at the time, “for a sister to assist by carrying the sacrament tray into the mother’s lounge.”
Blogger Sam Brunson argues — again — that it’s past time to extend that policy to the chapel itself.
“I’m going to be completely blunt: The church needs to allow women and girls to pass and prepare the sacrament,” he writes in a By Common Consent post. According to Latter-day Saint scripture, “administering the sacrament can only be done by Melchizedek Priesthood holders and priests. What deacons and teachers do is not by virtue of priesthood, and there is absolutely no scriptural reason it can’t be done by people who do not hold the priesthood.”
And who stands ready to help in his ward, or congregation, which is lacking in youths? Brunson’s two daughters.
“The young man in our ward has mentioned that being able to pass the sacrament has significantly improved his engagement with and enjoyment of church. And I’m truly happy for him,” Brunson explains. “But it also hurts my heart and my soul because my daughters (again arbitrarily) don’t get the chance to do that.”
In 2019, church President Russell M. Nelson announced that women and girls could act as official witnesses to two of the faith’s most sacred ceremonies: baptisms and temple “sealings.” So presumably those duties didn’t require ordination to the all-male priesthood; the previous prohibition may have been more of a tradition than a tenet.
Could passing the sacrament be next?
Brunson hopes so.
“Let girls strengthen their relationship to the Savior, serve the ward, and find meaning at church in the same way we let boys,” he concludes. “There’s nothing standing in our way.”
‘Tis sweet to sing, but avoid sour notes
Virtually any Latter-day Saint has witnessed this refrain at a sacrament meeting:
A bishop or stake president or visiting authority — acting on supposed inspiration — ends a sermon by announcing a sudden change in the closing hymn. Instead of, say, “Come, Follow Me,” the congregation now will sing “True to the Faith.”
No sweat, the members think. It’s just as easy to turn to Page 254 as it is to find Page 116.
Not so for the organist and chorister. They may be sweating plenty — at least on the inside. The song they’ve been perfecting all week is off the table, and a different, more difficult, or at least unfamiliar, one is now on.
Such a last-minute switch to the planned — and practiced — music lineup draws a discordant note from Gail Homer Berry.
“Never change a congregational hymn without first consulting the musicians — privately,” the keyboardist writes in a By Common Consent post. “Passing a note asking, ‘Is this OK?’ during sacrament meeting is fine. Announcing it from the pulpit is not.”
Berry spells out a list church leaders should keep in mind toward being “more sensitive” to the needs of these volunteer musicians. Among them:
• “Musicians are people, not machines,” she states. “You cannot turn them on and off at will.”
• “Prayer is wonderful and can enhance, but not replace, practice.” Latter-day Saint scripture says “if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” — or at least not fear as much.
• “Some new pianos and organs have ‘button pushing’ options so that the instrument digitally plays itself,” the blogger writes. This can be helpful, but remember: Some pianos may be robots, but no pianist ever is.”
• “Church service is not the same as private favors,” Berry adds. “If you want someone to play for your child’s wedding reception, offer to pay them.”
Heeding at least some of Berry’s tips might bring a strain of praise from members in music positions and never hearing a leader spring a surprise song on them again might be, well, music to their ears.
From The Tribune
• On this week’s “Mormon Land,” Mauli Junior Bonner — writer, producer and director of the film “His Name Is Green Flake” — talks about why he launched a drive to erect new memorials to Black pioneers and how the effort may help bring healing to racial divides within the church.
Listen to the podcast.
• Egypt may be a land of few Latter-day Saints, but it boasts much Mormonism. Think Joseph and Moses, the Book of Abraham and “reformed Egyptian.” Let senior religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack take you to this nation of mummies, tombs, pyramids and … the Cairo Branch.
Read her story.
• “As states work to enact laws related to abortion, church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty.” With that sentence, Latter-day Saint leaders established ground rules in the divisive abortion debate. But those words could mean different things to different members.
Read the story.
• As the abortion debate heats up, Latter-day Saint author and influencer Gabrielle Blair has a message for men: Use a condom.
Read excerpts from last week’s podcast and listen to the full show.
• “Under the Banner of Heaven” scored one Emmy nomination, a key one for Andrew Garfield for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for his portrayal of a fictional Latter-day Saint detective who examines his own faith during a murder investigation.
Read the story.
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