Handbook 2:
Administering the Church

 

18.2 Ward Meetings

The bishop oversees ward meetings. He presides at these meetings unless a member of the stake presidency, an Area Seventy, or a General Authority attends. His counselors may conduct ward meetings and may preside if he is absent. Presiding authorities and visiting high councilors should be invited to sit on the stand. High councilors do not preside when attending ward meetings.

If the bishop and his counselors are all absent, the stake president designates who presides at sacrament meeting. Normally he designates the high priests group leader, but he could authorize another priesthood holder instead.

 18.2.1

Schedule for Sunday Meetings

Sunday meetings provide vitally important time for members to partake of the sacrament, worship, learn the gospel, learn their duties, and give service. Interested nonmembers may attend these meetings.

Wards are to hold the following Sunday meetings in one three-hour period (for meeting schedule options, see the “Sunday Meeting Schedule” chart on page 153):

  1. 1.

    Sacrament meeting

  2. 2.

    Priesthood meeting (for all priesthood holders, prospective elders, and unordained young men of Aaronic Priesthood age; see 18.2.4)

  3. 3.

    Relief Society (for women ages 18 and older and for younger women who are married)

  4. 4.

    Young Women (for young women ages 12 to 18)

  5. 5.

    Primary (for children ages 3 through 11; also for children ages 18 months through 2 years if a nursery is organized and parents want their children to attend)

  6. 6.

    Sunday School (for those ages 12 and older; for information about 12-year-old young men and young women attending Sunday School, see 11.4.3)

 18.2.2

Sacrament Meeting

Purposes of Sacrament Meeting

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.

Planning and Conducting Sacrament Meeting

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. A sample agenda follows:

  1. 1.

    Prelude music (see 14.4.3 for guidelines)

  2. 2.

    Greeting and welcome

  3. 3.

    Acknowledgment of presiding authorities or visiting high councilors who are attending

  4. 4.

    Announcements (if possible, most announcements should be printed so they do not take time in sacrament meeting; the bishopric may give essential announcements briefly before the opening hymn)

  5. 5.

    Opening hymn and prayer

  6. 6.

    Ward and stake business, such as:

  7. 7.

    Naming and blessing children (usually in fast and testimony meeting) and confirming and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost on new members

  8. 8.

    Sacrament hymn and administration of the sacrament

  9. 9.

    Gospel messages, congregational singing, and special musical selections

  10. 10.

    Closing hymn and prayer

  11. 11.

    Postlude music

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.

Time before Sacrament Meeting

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.

Blessing and Passing the Sacrament

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. For instructions on preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament, see 20.4.

Selecting Subjects for Talks and Music

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.

Selecting and Orienting Participants

Selecting Participants. The bishopric selects members to participate in sacrament meetings. Most opportunities to participate are given to ward members. If the bishopric invites members from outside the ward to speak, the guidelines in 21.1.20 should be followed.

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.

The bishopric schedules one sacrament meeting each year for the Primary children to take part in a Primary program (see 11.5.4).

Occasionally the bishopric may invite the full-time 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.

Orienting Participants. 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.

Music

See 14.4.3 and 14.4.4.

Introducing New Members

When membership records are received in a ward and when converts are baptized and confirmed, a member of the bishopric introduces and welcomes the members in the next sacrament meeting. He reads each person’s name, invites the person to stand, and asks members of the congregation to show by the uplifted hand that they accept the members in full fellowship in the ward. Records of family members are read together. If a member knows any reason why a person may not be entitled to full fellowship, he or she should talk to the bishop privately.

After children who are members of record are baptized and confirmed, a member of the bishopric announces each child’s baptism and confirmation in sacrament meeting. These children are not presented for acceptance into the ward because they are already members.

Visual Aids and Audiovisual Materials

See 18.4 and 21.1.5.

Sacrament Services in Unusual Situations

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.

 18.2.3

Fast and Testimony Meeting

Usually on the first Sunday of each month, sacrament meeting is a fast and testimony meeting. General conference and stake conference may necessitate holding fast and testimony meeting on a different Sunday.

Under the bishop’s direction, in this meeting children may be named and blessed and confirmations may be performed before the administration of the sacrament.

After the sacrament, the bishopric member who is conducting the meeting bears a brief testimony. He then invites members to bear heartfelt testimonies and to relate faith-promoting experiences. The bishopric encourages members to keep their testimonies brief so more people may have the opportunity to participate.

It may be best to have young children learn to share their testimonies in settings such as family home evening or when giving talks in Primary until they are old enough to do so in a fast and testimony meeting without assistance from a parent, sibling, or other person.

 18.2.4

Priesthood Meeting

All priesthood holders meet together for brief opening exercises before separating for their quorum or group meetings. Prospective elders and unordained young men of Aaronic Priesthood age may also attend. A member of the bishopric conducts.

Opening exercises include an opening hymn and prayer. They may also include priesthood business, instruction, brief announcements, and the introduction of new members and visitors. Opening exercises should not be used to give lengthy announcements or reports. Maximum time should be reserved for gospel lessons in quorum meetings.

The bishop may invite the high priests group leader, elders quorum president, priests quorum assistants, teachers quorum president, and deacons quorum president to sit with the bishopric during opening exercises.

After opening exercises, priesthood holders separate into quorum and group meetings to conduct business, learn priesthood duties, and study the gospel. Bishopric members normally attend Aaronic Priesthood quorum meetings, though occasionally they attend Young Women classes. Sometimes the bishopric may combine the high priests group and elders quorum, Aaronic Priesthood quorums, or all priesthood holders for instruction during this time.

Other meetings should not be scheduled during priesthood meeting.

For more information about priesthood quorum and group meetings, see 7.8 and 8.11.

 18.2.5

Ward Conference

The stake presidency schedules and directs a ward conference once a year in each ward. Members of the stake presidency, high council, and stake auxiliaries take part in ward conference sessions as the stake president directs. The purposes of ward conference are to strengthen faith and testimony, provide gospel instruction, conduct business, and evaluate activity.

The main session of ward conference is held during sacrament meeting. Normally the agenda is similar to that of other sacrament meetings. The stake president presides, and the stake presidency usually plans the meeting. A member of the bishopric usually conducts. Before the sacrament, a member of the stake presidency or a high councilor uses the Officers Sustained form (prepared by a ward clerk) to present the names of general, stake, and ward officers to ward members for their sustaining vote. After the sacrament, speakers normally include the bishop and stake president.

The ward usually holds regular priesthood and auxiliary meetings as part of ward conference. Stake leaders may give instruction and assistance during these meetings.

In connection with ward conference, the stake presidency meets with the bishopric to review the progress of individuals and organizations in the ward. This meeting may be held on ward conference Sunday or at another time.

 18.2.6

Bishopric Meeting

The bishopric usually meets at least weekly. The ward clerk and ward executive secretary attend; the clerk keeps a record of assignments and decisions. The bishop may invite others to attend as needed.

During this meeting, members of the bishopric counsel together about ward matters. They plan ways to strengthen individuals and families. They evaluate quorums, auxiliaries, programs, and activities. They also make plans to implement instructions from the scriptures, Church leaders, and handbooks.

In this meeting, members of the bishopric identify members to call to serve in the ward. They also identify which members are coming of age to be eligible for ordinances, including priesthood ordinations, and which brethren to recommend to the stake president to be ordained elders and high priests and to serve as missionaries.

Other agenda items for this meeting may include reporting on assignments, planning meetings, reviewing the ward calendar, and reviewing the ward budget.

 18.2.7

Ward Priesthood Executive Committee Meeting

See 4.3.

 18.2.8

Ward Council Meeting

See 4.6.

 18.2.9

Bishopric Youth Committee Meeting

The bishop presides over the bishopric youth committee. This committee is composed of the bishopric, one of the bishop’s priests quorum assistants, the teachers and deacons quorum presidents, the Young Women class presidents, and the Young Men and Young Women presidents.

The bishopric may invite others to attend the committee’s meetings as needed. These may include the other priests quorum assistant, counselors in quorum and class presidencies, quorum and class secretaries, counselors in the Young Men and Young Women presidencies, and Young Men and Young Women secretaries.

The committee usually meets monthly. The bishop may conduct this meeting, or he may assign one of his counselors, one of his priests quorum assistants, or the Laurel class president to conduct it. Before each meeting, the bishop reviews and approves the agenda with the person who will be conducting. The agenda may include the following items:

  1. 1.

    Identify needs and interests of individual youth in the ward. Plan ways to help meet those needs. Plan ways to help youth live and promote Church standards.

  2. 2.

    Plan ways to encourage individual youth to participate in Church meetings and activities, including seminary. Plan and report on fellowshipping efforts for youth who are less active, youth who recently have been baptized, and youth who are investigating the Church.

  3. 3.

    Schedule and plan youth activities that are consistent with the needs that have been identified. These activities include combined Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women activities and ward youth conferences. Adult leaders should include youth as much as possible in planning and carrying out these activities.

  4. 4.

    Evaluate past activities to see if the intended purposes were fulfilled.

These committee meetings should provide leadership opportunities and instruction for youth.

 18.2.10

Ward Young Single Adult Committee Meeting

See 16.3.4.

 18.2.11

Missionary Coordination Meeting

See 5.1.5.