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The first hour of the Mormon Church Service. I'm pretty sure this first hour is similar to what most people do on Sunday at Church. The Sacrament Meeting is divided into two parts: The "passing of the sacrament" and the talks.

Preparation of the Sacrament
Before the meeting starts, boys aged 14 or 15 get things ready. This mostly consists of setting up the altar. The sacrament consists of bread and water. The water is put into little (like less than half a shot glass) plastic cups which sit in a metal tray. The bread is simply normal sliced bread (like Wonder) that is wrapped in a paper towel and put on metal trays. The altar is rectangular in shape and the bread and water is arranged in two rows down the middle. A small water bowl is placed on the altar flanked by two paper towels. A sheet is put on the table and another is placed over everything else.

Passing of the Sacrament
The Sacrament meeting starts with an Opening Hymn, an Invocation (Opening Prayer), Ward news and then a Sacrament Hymn. When people start to sing this hymn 2+ boys aged 16+ remove the sheet from the half of the alter holding the bread. They dip their fingers into the water bowl and wipe them off. They then remove the bread and break it into pieces and distribute the pieces over several trays. When this and the hymn are over, one of the boys will kneel down and recite the Sacrament Prayer for the bread. There is a mic usually built into the back of the alter for this. After reciting this he checks to make sure he didn't miss a word. This is one of the few prayers that needs to be recited verbatim. The bread trays are then handed to boys aged 12+ who pass it out to the members. When they return the trays are replaced, recovered, and the water trays are uncovered. A different boy blesses the water and then it is passed out.

The rest of the meeting
The rest of the meeting tends to be a few more hymns and 2 or 3 talks given by members of the Church. The people who talk have been asked a couple of weeks ago by the Bishop, and there tends to be a theme to subjects of the talks. There is then a Closing Hymn and a Benediction (Closing Prayer). Now there's just 2 more hours of fun to go!

A few other notes that are worth, erm, noting. Since I know probably 95% of everyone here has never been to one, I'll give an explanation of someone the point as they would affect someone visiting a meeting who had never before.

Regarding the Sacrament, which the whole meeting actually revolves around, remember that you are not obligated or expected to actually "take" it, e.g. eat the bread and drink the water. If you would rather not and you are in between other people, just pass the tray to the next person. If you are a lone person on a particular row, a quick basic shake of the head or wave of the hand and the particular "passer" will understand and go to the next row. There is no stigma to doing this and you also sometimes see members doing this if they feel that are not 'worthy' that week. On the other side, if you are a non-member (hereafter "visitor"), and you choose to partake, you're not going to be damned or burned at the stake or anything.

During the normal course of the "ward business" section the meeting sometimes something called a "sustaining" or a "release" will happen. These are the formal methods to get the ward's approval on the appointment of a given member in the ward to a particular "calling". The sustaining calls for approval of said person to be put in said position, and a release is to extend appreciation to someone who is being released from a calling. During these, ward approval is garnered by the congregation raising their right arm in the manner of calling for votes. Though chance is given for any objections to be made, I have never been privy to an objection ever having been made. If you are not a member of that particular ward, you're really not supposed to give your approval (or disapproval), so unless you are a member of the ward at hand, you can just leave your arm at rest.

The first Sunday of the month is reserved for what is called "Fast and Testimony meeting, where the regular arrangement of speakers and hymns are replaced with members of the congregation giving public display of their spiritual feeling. This takes the form of a short (no time limit is enforced, but most of the time each person will take 2 to 5 minutes) public affirmation of faith called "Baring ones Testimony". All members of the congregation are invited at their own preference to share their feelings about the faith, the church, life and the like. These sometimes become emotional displays with occasional tears, which is why you'll always see a box of tissues next to the pulpit.

The sun rises, fish swim and Mormons sing. It's like the changing of the tides. If you show up, no matter how revolting you think your voice is, you are invited to join in. Don't worry, the amount of good singers is usually usually much higher than the bad so it actually sounds really good. But if you don't like to sing, don't want to or anything else, ya' don't have to.

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