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Sunday ServicesSunday services for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) consist of a three-hour block of time divided into three segments.
The primary Sunday service is Sacrament Meeting, which is slightly more than an hour in length, and is attended by the combined congregation. Sacrament Meeting services consist of the Aaronic Priesthood blessing and passing the sacrament--consecrated bread and water in remembrance of the body and blood of Christ--to members of the Church. The service usually also consists of "talks" or lay sermons prepared and delivered by members of the congregation. There is also hymn singing and other forms of worship through music. During the other two segments, the congregation divides into smaller groups based on age and/or sex. The Church publishes manuals for each type of class, usually including both a teacher's manual and a student booklet.
Sunday School classes are grouped by age and sometimes by background. The most common adult Sunday School class is "Gospel Doctrine," which meets each week and consists of a teacher presenting a gospel message drawn from the scriptures, with participation from class members. A second adult class that meets most weeks is "Gospel Essentials" which is designed for new members and non-members who are interested in learning more about the Church (the latter are often referred to as investigators). Additional adult classes are held at various times, depending on the specific needs of each congregation. These classes include topics such as "Family Relations," "Family History," "Teacher Preparation," "Mission Preparation," and "Temple Preparation." Youth Sunday School classes are divided by age (12-13, 14-15, 16-18). These classes are sometimes combined if class sizes are small.
In addition to Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School, a third block of Mormon meetings is held where attendance is based on age and sex. Men and boys 12 years and older attend priesthood classes, women attend Relief Society, and girls ages 12-18 attend Young Women. The Young Women group is further divided into Beehive (ages 12-13), Mia Maid (ages 14-15), and Laurel (ages 16-18) classes. All men and boys meet together briefly at the beginning of the hour for a prayer, hymn, and announcements, they then separate into classes. The men separate by priesthood office to attend Elder's Quorum or High Priest's Quorum, the latter usually being older men and/or those who have held leadership positions in the Church. Youth are likewise divided into priesthood quorums: Deacons (ages 12-13), Teachers (ages 14-15), and Priests (ages 16-18). Classes may be combined if the class sizes are small.
Children younger than 12 attend Primary, which spans the latter two time blocks described above. Young children from 18 months to 3 years of age attend a nursery class. Primary classes generally consist of all the children who were born in the same year. Usually one half of the Primary meets in separate classes while the other half meets together in sharing and singing time, and at the end of the hour, the two are reversed.
For More Information about LDS Sunday Services see "What to Expect at Sunday Meetings"
Other Sunday Meetings
In place of, or in addition to, the typical Sunday Mormon meetings are special meetings of three sorts: Testimony meeting, conferences, and firesides.
Mormon testimony meetings typically occur the first Sunday of every month (local leaders may switch Sundays to fit in conferences). The meeting itself is actually a variation of the Sacrament Meeting. After the sacrament has been blessed and passed, instead of the standard lay sermons, members are given an opportunity to bear their testimony. During a testimony, members often publicly thank Heavenly Father for His blessings or other members of the congregation for their service, they bear witness to the truthfulness of the gospel or specifically certain aspects of it, and they may share brief inspirational stories. Because a testimony is such a special and personal thing, it is not unusual for people to cry while sharing their testimonies. Testimony meetings are also referred to as Fast and Testimony meetings because on those Sundays, members of the congregation will be fasting (giving up two meals and donating the money they would have spent to the ward to help those in need).
The Mormon Church holds numerous conferences each year. The main three conferences are stake conference, ward conference, and general conference. Conferences in general are times for members to come together to sustain Church leadership and hear the words of either the local leaders or the general leaders and Apostles of the Church.
Ward conferences are held under the direction of stake leadership and are otherwise similar to the usual Sunday meetings.
During stake conferences, all of the wards in that particular stake (see Church Organization) come together. These may or may not be presided over by General Authorities. Stake conferences actually consist of two or three two-hour meetings held at different times during the weekend. There is a main session for all members of the stake, a session for just the adults in the stake, and a leadership session for those with particular assignments within the stake.
The Mormon Church holds semi-annual general conferences in Salt Lake City. These are for the entire Church and consist of five sessions--four general and one priesthood (the Relief Society Conference is held at a different time)-- held on the first Saturdays and Sundays of April and October. During the meetings, members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Seventy, and the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary Presidencies give prepared sermons on an approved topic of their choice. These meetings take place in the Church's Conference Center in Salt Lake City(although historically they met in the Mormon Tabernacle) and are broadcast worldwide in a number of languages via television, radio, satellite, and the internet. After the meetings, the messages are published on the internet and in the Mormon Church magazines, the Ensign and Liahona (the Church's international magazine which has been published in almost 50 languages). They can also be purchased in CD or DVD form.
The last type of Sunday Mormon meetings are firesides (though they need not always be held on Sunday). Firesides are generally held in the evenings, are for a particular group (Young Men, Young Women, Single Adults, etc.), and have a guest speaker.
Weekday Meetingsseminary, which is scheduled so that students can leave for school when the class is over. In some areas with large LDS populations, provisions are made by the high school which allow students to attend seminary off-campus during the school day. The provision, however, is considered released time, not a school-recognized class. No credit is awarded by the school, nor is any grade or achievement listed on the school's official transcript. Seminary attendance does, however, help when applying to the Church-owned Brigham Young University. Seminary programs are administered by the Church Educational System.
The Young Men's and Young Women's organizations often have a weekly meeting (sometimes referred to as Mutual, a shortening from the original title Mutual Improvement Association) which can involve an activity, service project, or instruction. Classes may meet separately or combined on different weeks.
Four times a year, the adult women attend Enrichment Night, where they may choose between various classes being offered, participate in a service project, or attend a social event.
In addition to these regularly scheduled Mormon meetings, additional meetings are frequently held at the meeting house. Popular activities are basketball, luncheons, holiday parties, and various personal improvement classes. Church members may also reserve the building for personal use, such as wedding receptions, funerals, etc.