Rockledge Florida, USA
I would like to preface my remarks by testifying that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the earth. What does that mean?
When we say this is the only true church, we mean this is the only Church that has the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the only church governed by Jesus Christ; the only Church having the priesthood, which is the authority of God to administer the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.
One of those ordinances is the sacrament. It is not enough to just be baptized and confirmed a member of this church. We must actively participate in the Gospel all our lives. That includes attending sacrament meeting on time each Sunday and partaking of the bread and water, and pondering the sacrament prayers (see 2 Nephi 31:15-20; Moroni 4:3; Moroni 5:2; 3 Nephi 18:1-12; 3 Nephi 20:3-8; 3 Nephi 26:13; John 6:54).
When we say this is the only living church, we mean this is the only church organized by Jesus Christ to have a living prophet and living apostles, and continuing revelation from Jesus through his living prophet and living apostles.
That includes modern revelation, which is living scripture. General Conference talks are living scripture. The First Presidency messages published monthly in the Liahona and Ensign magazines are living scripture. Church Handbooks of Instruction are living scripture. They are every bit as authoritative as the Bible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.
Handbook Two, Chapter 18.2.2 states:
Each sacrament meeting should be a spiritual experience in which members of the Church renew their covenants by partaking of the sacrament. Other purposes of sacrament meeting are to worship, provide gospel instruction, perform ordinances, conduct ward business, and strengthen faith and testimony.
Members of the bishopric plan sacrament meetings and conduct them in a reverent and dignified manner. They oversee the administration of the sacrament, select subjects for talks and music, select and orient participants, and invite members to give opening and closing prayers. It is not necessary to hold a prayer meeting before sacrament meeting.
The bishopric ensures that sacrament meetings begin and end on time. Meetings should not be overprogrammed.
Occasionally something unexpected may occur during the meeting that the presiding officer feels a need to clarify. In this situation, he should make any clarification that is needed, being careful not to cause embarrassment.
Leaders set an example of reverence during the time before sacrament meeting. The bishopric and the speakers should be in their seats at least five minutes before the meeting begins. This is not a time for conversation or transmitting messages. Setting an example of reverence encourages the congregation to be spiritually prepared for a worshipful experience.
Members should be taught to make the time before sacrament meeting a period of prayerful meditation as they prepare spiritually for the sacrament.
The bishopric encourages families to arrive on time and to sit together.
The bishopric ensures that the sacrament is blessed and passed in a reverent and orderly manner. The sacrament table should be prepared before the meeting begins.
The bishopric selects subjects for talks and music in sacrament meetings. Talks and music should focus on gospel subjects that help members build faith and testimony.
Members of the bishopric regularly invite youth ages 12 to 18 to speak in sacrament meeting. Youth should speak briefly (about five minutes each) on assigned gospel subjects. They should prepare their own talks, though the bishopric may encourage parents to help.
The bishopric usually invites missionaries to speak in sacrament meeting just before they depart and when they return (see Handbook 1, 4.8.1 and 4.10.3). The bishopric makes it clear that this is a regular sacrament meeting and is not to be a missionary farewell or homecoming. The bishopric plans and conducts these meetings. Family members and friends of the missionary are not invited to speak. However, other departing or returning missionaries or other members may be invited to speak.
The bishopric schedules high councilors to speak as assigned by the stake president. The stake president determines the frequency of such assignments. It is not necessary for high councilors to speak in sacrament meeting every month.
Occasionally the bishopric may invite the fulltime missionaries who are serving in the area to speak.
The bishopric may not turn sacrament meetings over to auxiliaries or outside musical groups. However, auxiliaries may be invited to participate in the meeting under the bishopric’s direction.
Members of the bishopric should extend invitations to speak in sacrament meeting well in advance of the meeting.
Members of the bishopric orient sacrament meeting participants. They review the purposes of sacrament meeting and explain that all talks and music should be in harmony with the sacred nature of the sacrament.
When inviting members to speak, a member of the bishopric clearly explains the subject and the length of time the person should speak. He counsels speakers to teach the doctrines of the gospel, relate faith-promoting experiences, bear witness of divinely revealed truths, and use the scriptures (see D&C 42:12; 52:9). Speakers should teach in a spirit of love after prayerful preparation. They should not speak on subjects that are speculative, controversial, or out of harmony with Church doctrine.
To maintain an atmosphere of reverent worship in sacrament meetings, when speakers use scriptures as part of their talks, they should not ask the congregation to open their own books to the scriptural references.
Members who participate in sacrament meeting should stay until the meeting ends.
Every member needs the spiritual blessings that come from partaking of the sacrament. If members are unable to attend sacrament meeting because they are confined to a home, nursing home, or hospital, the bishop may assign priesthood holders to prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament to these members.
Occasionally members may be unable to attend sacrament meeting because of distance to the meetinghouse. Under unusual circumstances, the bishop may occasionally give authorization for a sacrament service to be held away from the meetinghouse. He may authorize such a service only within his ward boundaries. The person whom the bishop authorizes to conduct the service must hold the Melchizedek Priesthood or be a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. He also must be worthy to bless and pass the sacrament. The priesthood holder who directs the service reports to the bishop when the service has been held.
When members are traveling or temporarily residing away from their home wards, they should make an earnest effort to attend sacrament meeting and other Sunday meetings in a ward or branch of the Church.
Sacrament services should not be held in conjunction with family reunions or other outings.