CONDUCTING – MORE REMINDERS
I will share with you a few more of my experiences conducting meetings and what I learned about church protocol. The parents-in-law of a member of the Seventy lived in the Holden Ward when I served in the Stake Presidency. He frequently visited the ward with his wife. Sitting in the congregation, he did not preside, but on one occasion, even though I was not conducting the service, he visited with me after the service to correct some mistakes in church protocol. An ordination had taken place during the service without a member of the Bishopric standing in the circle.
On another occasion several years ago at a Stake Priesthood Meeting in my home stake the Fillmore Utah Stake, the Stake Mission Leader (no longer a calling) explained that women should perform the priesthood ordinance of anointing and healing of the sick in the absence of a priesthood member. I watched our wise Stake President to see what he would do. He did nothing and the meeting ended. A few years later, as a Bishop, I asked him why he let it go. He explained something important to me. “All priesthood leaders in that congregation understood the gospel and knew what was right. He felt at the time it was not necessary to embarrass the man in front of everyone by correcting him over the pulpit.”
On another occasion as a Bishop, I conducted a funeral service for one of the pioneer members of our ward. I thought I had everything under control and on schedule when one of the speakers, a family member, invited all members of the family to come to the pulpit to share their feelings. Thirty minutes later the speaker was still going strong with invites. I interrupted and asked the speaker to close. The speaker said OK but then continued the process for another 30 minutes before sitting down. This happened on top of all the other speakers, music and messages.
A young boy died in a tragic accident in my ward. He was a member of a part member, mostly inactive family. As their Bishop, I explained to the family that video recording is not allowed in the chapel. During the funeral, I noticed a member of the extended family filming the service.
So what did I learn about standard church protocol?
Services in General:
A member of the bishopric always stands in priesthood ordinances to correct if necessary.
Correct doctrine as the need arises at the pulpit but as the spirit dictates.
Read several names and callings with a single release and sustaining statement. While doing this, read at the pulpit the release and sustaining wording out of the handbook, to eliminate clumsy talk.
Do not summarize all the talks at end of meeting. This is not appropriate.
Photography and video recordings are not allowed in the chapel. (Handbook 2, 8.4.15) This applies to all services but funerals are typically where the problem comes up.
· If people ask to film, kindly explain why we do not do that in our chapels.
· If you see filming or photos being made in the congregation, do not embarrass them and if appropriate teach them later
Audiovisual Materials: (Handbook 2, 17.1.15)
· This is not allowed in Sacrament Service or Stake Conference.
· It may be used in chapel in other meetings.
Meet with the family, plan the service and find out expectations. If the Church is providing financial help, stay involved in and be conservative with casket and funeral home choices.
· Emphasize the need to stay on schedule during the viewing, family prayer, funeral, grave dedication, etc. People will travel long distance or take time from work to be there and will have other commitments. Explain to the family that you will try to respect that as you conduct.
· More than 3 speakers will probably put the service overtime.
· You should support reasonable family requests while planning the service. It is, however, a church service in the chapel, so church standards outlined in the handbook must be met. Alternatively, the family can rent a hall elsewhere for the funeral.
Invite all speakers. You are responsible for the whole service, never turn planning over to someone else or one of the speakers.
Assign a clear time segment for each participant.
· If speakers go overtime or invite other family members to extemporaneously come to the pulpit to share, you are in trouble; the meeting is about to go overtime. Kindly interrupt and explain such sharing is better done in a family gathering later in the day when there is time for the family to visit. Be gracious and kind and do your best.
Stay on time for all services including the: viewing, family prayer, funeral, grave dedication, etc.
Funeral Duration – 1 hour, never longer than 1 ½ hour.
Comments by Bishop at end of funeral are only necessary if the gospel was not preached by another speaker. Don’t be vain, people did not come to hear you.
45 The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God. (DC 20:45)
8 And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given.
9 And thus ye shall become instructed in the law of my church, and be sanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me— (DC 43:8-9)