Claremont Latter-day Saints are staying connected
In early March I’d never heard of the smart device app called Zoom—that sure changed by the end of that same month.
Now, six months later, Zoom has become a household utility and the primary way local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as “LDS” or “Mormons”) have been connecting for communal worship.
Staying connected as congregations is one of the many challenges the pandemic and shutdown imposes upon houses of worship. I could not have predicted that these virtual meetings would quickly feel as natural and normal as they have become and I am grateful for that. Yet, in spite of our adaptation, there’s still rarely a session that goes by where someone doesn’t yearnfully utter “when this is over and we meet in-person again…”
There is nothing wrong with worshipping God in private, in fact our church’s leaders have been preparing us to be better at this for many years. For example, in January 2019 a shift away from the reliance of church-based worship to “home-centered, church-supported” worship was implemented. The intent is for members to learn doctrine, fortify faith and foster more personal worship outside of church meetings.
This transition included new personal/family home study materials and the reduction of Sunday class times by one-third to make way for more self-directed Sabbath Day activities.
Ultimately we believe that worship of God and Jesus Christ must be practiced every day of the week and that the hallmark of our devotion and faith should be manifested by our private and public behavior—not measured only by the hours we spend in church.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of our Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, recently wrote in his article “Don’t Mask Your Heart” about why he prefers we use the term “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing” during the pandemic. “Physical distance…does not mean we have to be socially distanced from each other. We learned to focus on and enjoy the things we could do and experience, and not so much on the things we might miss.”
With the aid of technology we’ve handled physical distancing very nicely. Yet, there will always be something missing until we can meet again.
It is unnatural for humans to be isolated—we’re social beings and we’re enriched by being around good people who share our values. There is also the sacredness and connection associated with gathering to worship in a dedicated, holy place.
As Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). Clearly He instructs us to meet and blesses us when we do.
Early morning on Sunday, July 26, one of our congregations, the Claremont 2nd Ward, hosted our first local worship service since March and first one ever to be held outdoors in the parking lot of their Base Line Road building. It was well-planned by Ward leaders and all proper precautions were followed.
For the more cautious or vulnerable participants the service was also livestreamed for home viewing. For the approximately 70 of us physically present it was very touching to be together again, so much has happened in everyone’s lives, in the world, since our last in-person assembly.
We hope to continue with more outdoor meetings soon and look forward to indoor gatherings for members and visitors again when the time is right.