Discussion 4 – Courtesy in Church
For Tuesday, January 9, 1962
Objective: To emphasize that we honor our Father in heaven when we practice and encourage respect for others in Church and for the edifices themselves.
Because of the constant and varied needs which our Church edifices serve, they receive hard wear under normal circumstances. Only when every member considerately co-operates to protect these buildings can their sacred influence be fully enjoyed. This respect for churches and people is a visible component of reverence.
Children, as well as people of all ages, are welcomed to our Church services. Nearly every ward can point with pride to large families who attend meetings together and whose deportment reflects understanding of the purpose of the service by being reverent and courteous; however, there is evidence that many are yet in the learning process of acquiring these attributes.
The joy of understanding the “good news” of the gospel message and feeling the close relationship as brothers and sisters, characterize the Latter-day Saints as friendly. however, it behooves us to exercise caution lest this attitude beget noisy sociability to the extent that it becomes discourteous and irreverent.
Courtesy in church is a lesson in living which should not be neglected. It can best be learned in the intimacy of the family circle, where each member can be instructed properly in his obligations and privileges. President McKay has said:
It has been truly said that reverence is the noblest state in which a man can live in the world. If that is true, then irreverent man has a crudeness about him that is repellent. …
Reverence and obedience to law should begin at home. Indeed, too much emphasis cannot be laid upon the responsibility of parents to teach their children reverence for God in all things sacred, and to honor and uphold the law. …
Disorder injures the child who makes it. he should learn that when he is in society there are certain things which he cannot do with impunity. He cannot trespass upon the rights of his associates. (Gospel Ideals, pp. 224 and 225).
This important lesson should not be left for religious leaders on the scene, except under unusual circumstances when mischievous children are found in disturbing or destructive acts. Parents, to whom such an incident is reported, should co-operate with the leaders in helping the child to understand the seriousness of the error. A proper plan for restitution, if necessary, should be considered as much for the child’s benefit as for his obligations to the Church.
It is distracting from reverence when people arrive late for Church services. It is courteous to make every effort to be in place before the prelude music begins. To avoid tardiness requires parental planning of home preparations for Church attendance, even on the day previous. Emergencies that occasionally make late arrival unavoidable are recognized, but to be habitually late bespeaks selfishness.
Helps for Children
If it is necessary to bring a little food or nursing bottle to Church, these foods should be handled with great care to prevent them from crumbling or spilling on the benches or on the floor. These areas should be checked by the parents before leaving the chapel to make sure that they are clear of litter.
Observing the following suggestions bespeaks thoughtful courtesy to other worshipers and contributes to teaching reverence to children:
1. If “quiet toys” are necessary, they should be limited to the unbreakable type that do not scratch, rattle, or jingle.
2. Use of crayons or pencils should be confined to the paper that parents may provide for the child.
3. Help the child to understand that draperies and curtains are “no no” items and should not be touched or pulled.
4. Little shoes with metal taps or trims that will scratch should be kept off the benches.
5. Hymn books are part of the necessary equipment for worship. They deserve equal care and protection with the furnishings.
Part of the preparation for the Sabbath day should be that of reminding little tots and teens of proper behavior in Church meetings.
It is wise for parents with small children to sit near the aisle or close to the exit into the “cry-room” or hall, so that if it is necessary to take the child from the chapel, it may be done without disturbing a row of people. A disorderly child should be taken from the chapel at once, but not home, or else the child will learn it can go home if it disturbs. When a child is quiet he may be brought back into the chapel. Repeating this process as often as necessary will teach church behavior to the child.
The passing of the sacrament is a sacred period. Children can be helped to fold their hands during the prayer, and learn the sacredness of this ordinance if not allowed to play during the service.
Courtesy of Appreciation
Strangers attending Church services are generally welcomed by those appointed to do so at the entrance to the chapel, recognized in the classes which they attend, and introduced to the members. Following the service, they should be welcomed by members and made to feel a part of the group. Certainly in Relief Society this aspect of courtesy should not be overlooked.
Except for rare emergencies, it is rude to leave religious services before the closing prayer has been offered. President McKay said:
Children should be impressed with the inappropriateness of confusion and disorder in a worshiping assembly, and should be made to realize that it is the height of rudeness to leave service before dismissal. Young people who ignore such proprieties are two hundred and fifty years behind the times. They should have lived in colonial days when just to make sure that they stayed out the service, young men were locked in their pews by their superiors. (Conference Report, April 1937, page 30).
When Church Representatives Come to You
When representatives of the ward (ward teachers, Relief Society visiting teachers, Magazine representatives, and others) come to the home, they should be treated with deference. Treat them as special guests, and turn off any television, record player, or radio that happens to be playing while these visitors are in the home. Family members should be taught by example to radiate warmth, friendliness, interest, and respect for the callings of these people who visit homes in the spirit of service.
Questions for Discussion
1. Suggest ways and means parents may employ to teach children respect and care for the chapel and public property.
2. Discuss the question: How should a parent react when a Church officer or teacher corrects her child or informs the parent of his misbehavior?
3. If children are observed running in the chapel, halls or rooms, should one remind them to desist or just ignore them? How do you do?