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Nov 19, 2009

Step Inside A Mormon Chapel

Most first time visitors to a Mormon church building comment on the number of rooms. Many expect to find one large interior space, such as in many other Christian denominations' buildings of worship. But meeting houses for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints are duifferent from those used by many other religions. They include classrooms, offices, font for baptisms, a kitchen and in many cases a cultural hall with an indoor basketball court.

Cultural halls in Morman buildings usually also have a stage, for dramatic and musical productions. And the basketball court doubles for a dance floor or dining area, among other uses. This is all in addition to a large room that seats 200 to 300, called the chapel, used for Sunday worship services. The word "chapel" is also sometimes used by Mormons to describe the whole building or meetinghouse.

For latter-day Saints, the church meetinghouse is a hub of religious and social life. The most important part of the week, though, is the hour -long sacrament meeting. This takes place on Sunday and is similiar to other Christian worship services. Men, women and younger members offer prayers and give sermons, hymns are sung, and the sacrament, similar to other traditions' communion, is administered. Members teach the principels taught by Jesus Christ.

In addition to the sacrament meeting, there are other meetings on Sundays as part of a three-hour span from 9 a.m. until noon, 11 2 p.m., or some other variation. These other meetings include classes for youths and adults and what Mormons call "Primary," a time for lessons and singing for children 12 and under.

Mormons tend to have large families, so be prepared to see--and hear--a lot of children .And though Mormon parents try to teach their little ones to be reverent, children are also encouraged to be involved. In the childrens primary, for example, you will see 7-year-olds,or even younger children, give talks, read scripture and pray in front of their peers.  The songs taught and sung in Primary focu son the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, on scriptural themes and on simple ways children and others can put into practise what is preached.

Mormons are generally a friendly people so a visitor should not be surprised when someone, seeing a new face, comes over to talk and offer to shake hands and help the visitor find the right meeting or class.

A common misperception among those not of the Mormon faith is that only Latter-day Saints can enter their chapels. This is most likely based on a misunderstanding about temples and chapels. While temples, of which there are 151 ( including existing ones and those announced or under construction ) worldwide, are open only to members of the church who are fully engaged in their faith, anyone can enter a Mormon chapel to visit or worship with their latter-day-Saint neighbors. There are over 17,000 chapels through out the world.

The physical design of Latter-day Saint chapels reflects Mormons' depth of religiosity that goes beyond pulpit and pew. To be a member of a Mormon ward (or congregation) is to be part of a faith community that intersects weekly as a group and in smaller gatherings several other times throughout each week.

In some cases mormon meetinghouses become launching areas for community service initiatives, such as in times of natural disasters. On many occcasions, such efforts are in conjunction with those of other community and faith groups.

Mormons say that while the activitie that bring them together within their buildings are wide and varied some cultural, some sporting. Some educational and some social-the underpinning motivation for all that is done is for individuals and families to help each other to overcome life's challenges by learning about Jesus Christ and striving to become like Him.

For latter-day Saints the buildings they use for their various worship services and other gatherings are important-but not as important as the building that goes on within their walls. It is the building of strong individuals and families, of knowledge, of relationships and of faith in God that matters most to Mormons.

"Our chapels are not all constructed with the same design features," said Church apostle Elder L.Tom Perry in a worldwide conference. " However,each one centers on the mission of our Savior. They are buildings dedicated for the worship of Him."

Leviticous:  17:11  For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.


Peter Davidson said...

You have a very interesting blog here! You may also appreciate the many testimonies of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at God bless.

Anonymous said...

Good Read. I first heard about this faith from my friend who visited Salt lake city. Interesting and thank you for sharing.