Essay, Research Paper
World Religions 3:00
The religious service I choose to attend was at the church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. I attended a service at a Stake center located at the corner of Brown and Horn in Mesa. A Stake is a meeting place for three wards, which are groups of the church. They take their turn using the church for different activities but all attend on Sunday morning, at different times. One of the main differences about the church was the style of the building and interior decorating they had. Mormon churches use large flat surfaces and walls that remain simple. It?s called Temple Revival and is used throughout their religion to design and build churches and Temples alike. The lawn was well kept with a ?Visitors Welcome? sign that sat below the sign, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was told later that the building was kept basic, as it is a place of worship and not necessarily for show. Temples are larger places of worship usually used for such events as marriage, baptism, funeral services and ?enlightenment? in some cases. The interior of the churches and Temples are decorated very plainly with pictures and drawings of religious events and examples of Christ-like occurrences. Only true Mormons and their immediate families can enter certain areas of the Mormon temple in Mesa.
The service that I attended consisted of different segments, the first being the Sacrament, which would last for about an hour. This starts with an opening prayer with the Bishop asking everyone if they have someone in their thoughts they would like the congregation to pray for and would always ask someone different to say the opening prayer. The bishop would then begin with various ward news including new members to the church, this would take only five to ten minutes. Next was the sacrament, the general blessing of bread and water symbolizing food and drink to be blessed through prayer by the Lord himself. Children called Deacons, dressed in button down shirts and ties, these boys are about 12 to 14 years old, passed this around. The Priests were boys around the age of 16,and they blessed the sacrament. The sacrament was blessed then passed around with individual prayers said; one for the bread and one for the water. At this time people can bear testimonies to their belief in the faith that the church has given them. Then talks begin, asked by the Bishop, from two to three people on the subject of faith. After these talks are finished the sacrament is closed with a prayer and a song.
Sunday school is next which uses the King James Version of the Bible for scripture study along with the Book of Mormon. Sunday School is divided into different groups according to the participants? age and gender. Men ages 12 to 14 years old, 14 to 15, and 16 and older. Women 18 and younger and 18 and older, there are only two groups for women. Each session is begun with a prayer and sometimes a song. A Sunday school teacher makes informal announcements and presents the lesson. Groups are then able to have a more in depth discussion about various topics and close with a prayer. The last forty-five to fifty minutes I spent in Priesthood, whereas the ladies went to Relief Society. This is also split by age as everyone is at different stages. In Priesthood we opened and closed with a prayer, and had an informal discussion session on topics ranging from ward activities to scripture lessons.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is, I believe, a very straightforward and general religion. The major difference that I found was the premise that was a North American based religion. The movement was begun by Joseph Smith (1805-1844) in 1820, as he was led to a hill in New York State by an angel. Buried in this hill was a set of golden plates that Smith was divinely inspired to translate. This translation came to be the Book of Mormon that tells the history of descendants of Israelites who came to North America.
I never once felt unwelcome. I did find the separating of the men and women to be a bit strange, but can understand the division of the ages. I found the afternoon to be centered on strength and faith. Strengthening your understanding of the Heavenly Fathers? purpose for you, and how to strengthen your faith. I was most impressed by the tightness of the community, and wondered if the kindness and openness that I witnessed and experienced carried over to their daily lives. I found that the Book of Mormon wasn?t some scary, secret book, as I had believed, but actually the account of Jesus Christ and peoples in the Americas long ago. I had an excellent experience and it was actually rather painless.