This section summarizes instructions on Church meetings. It describes (1) meetings that include a full congregation, (2) leadership meetings primarily for stake presidencies and bishoprics, and (3) funerals.
Meetings that include leaders of more than one organization are described on pages 315-19 in Book 2.
Meetings that are specific to an organization, such as quorum, Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary, Sunday School, and stake mission meetings, are described in that organization's section of Book 2.
In addition to the meetings outlined in the handbooks, presiding authorities occasionally may call other meetings and define their composition and purpose.
Doctrines Relating to Church Meetings
The Savior has commanded His people to meet together often (see Mosiah 18:25; 3 Nephi 18:22). He promised, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).
Church meetings are held to worship, pray, renew covenants, perform ordinances, teach and exhort, sing, conduct business, and strengthen associations as brothers and sisters in the gospel.
One of the most important meetings is sacrament meeting (see D&C 59:9). The scriptures also speak of conferences and other public meetings (see D&C 20:61; 46:3). Regular Sunday meetings and conferences of the Church are open to members and nonmembers (see 3 Nephi 18:22; D&C 46:3-5).
Leaders plan and conduct meetings "as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God" (D&C 20:45; see also D&C 46:2; Moroni 6:9). They should use an agenda to help them focus on the meeting's purposes and use time effectively, but they should remain open to promptings of the Holy Ghost and comments of those in attendance. Meetings should not be longer than needed. General guidelines for planning and conducting meetings are provided on pages 314-15 in Book 2.
Principles of Effective Church Council and Committee Meetings
When councils or committees meet, the presiding officer outlines the matters being discussed, then invites ideas and suggestions from others. He helps others participate fully in the discussions, decisions, and plans. He considers their suggestions carefully in making plans and giving assignments.
Council and committee meetings should focus on accomplishing the mission of the Church and planning how to strengthen individuals and families. Time spent on calendaring and other administrative business should be minimal.
General conferences are held in April and October to refresh and renew the faith of members, to instruct and edify, and to conduct Church business.
General Relief Society Meeting
General Young Women Meeting
A general Relief Society meeting is held each year for Relief Society sisters. A general Young Women meeting is held each year for young women ages 12 through 17, their mothers, and their leaders.
Area Council Meeting
Area Presidencies may hold area council meetings periodically to instruct Area Authority Seventies and others as invited. These meetings are also used to correlate, plan, and resolve matters affecting an area. Agenda items include discussions on missionary work, spiritual and temporal welfare, and temple and family history work.
Regional Welfare Committee Meeting
Area Presidencies organize a regional welfare committee for each welfare region. Each committee consists of all stake presidents, all chairmen of stake bishops' welfare councils, and all stake Relief Society presidents in the welfare region. The Area Presidency appoints one stake president to be chairman of the committee.
This committee meets at least twice each year to teach and inspire leaders in their welfare responsibilities and to implement instructions from the Area Presidency. Committee members also coordinate welfare activities, such as balancing donated labor assignments among stakes and planning responses to emergencies. Other matters to discuss may include fostering self-reliance, caring for the needy, and encouraging fast-offering donations. Committee members also report on local welfare projects and review the services of Church welfare operations (where they exist).
Where travel is difficult or long, the Area Presidency may ask fewer stake bishops' welfare council chairmen and stake Relief Society presidents to attend this meeting.
The Area Presidency appoints a regional welfare agent for each regional welfare committee. He should hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and have welfare experience (see page 259 in Book 2). He is the executive secretary of the committee and reports to the stake president who is chairman.
Regional conferences of stakes in an area are held periodically to refresh the faith of members and to instruct and edify. These conferences include stakes selected by the Office of the Quorum of the Twelve. General Authorities preside over and conduct these conferences.
The stake president oversees stake meetings. He presides at these meetings unless a General Authority or Area Authority Seventy attends. His counselors may conduct stake meetings and may preside if he is absent. Stake meetings should not conflict with Sunday ward meetings.
Each stake holds two stake conferences during the year as scheduled by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve. In most parts of the world, the stake president presides at one stake conference and an assigned General Authority or Area Authority Seventy presides at the other. In years when a stake attends a regional conference, that conference takes the place of the stake conference at which a General Authority or Area Authority Seventy would have presided.
The primary purpose of stake conference is to help the Saints build faith and testimony. All talks and music should be planned with this purpose in mind.
Another purpose is to conduct stake business. During the first stake conference each year, a member of the stake presidency presents general, area, and stake officers to be sustained, using the Officers Sustained (Stake) form. He also presents the names of stake officers who have been released so the congregation can give an expression of thanks for their service.
Stake officers who are called or released after the first stake conference should be presented for a sustaining vote or an expression of thanks in the second stake conference unless this has been done in ward sacrament meetings as outlined on page 39. Brethren who have been recommended for ordination to the offices of elder and high priest are presented for a sustaining vote in either stake conference. For instructions, see pages 31 and 38-39.
Each stake conference normally includes the following meetings:
Planning and Conducting Stake Conference
The presiding officer directs all conference planning He approves all conference participants and all musical selections well before the conference weekend.
The stake president conducts the Sunday general session. His counselors may conduct other conference meetings.
The stake president speaks in the Sunday general session of the conference. His counselors speak in conference sessions as determined by the presiding authority.
Planning includes making arrangements for adequate seating, ushering, and parking. Stake leaders may assign priesthood quorums and groups, including prospective elders, to provide these services.
Music for Stake Conference
See pages 289-91 in Book 2.
Stake General Priesthood Meeting
The stake presidency convenes a stake general priesthood meeting twice a year, once in each half. All Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the stake are to attend.
The stake presidency uses these meetings to instruct and inspire priesthood holders. The presidency prayerfully selects the themes for these meetings to meet the needs of those who attend.
In these meetings the stake presidency also conducts stake priesthood business, such as:
The stake presidency meets weekly. The stake executive secretary and stake clerk attend; the clerk records minutes. The stake president may invite others to attend as needed.
During this meeting, members of the stake presidency consider all matters affecting the stake. They also plan how to strengthen individuals and families. They evaluate wards, high priests groups, elders quorums, the stake mission, auxiliaries, programs, and activities. They also make plans to implement instructions from the scriptures, Church leaders, and handbooks.
During this meeting, members of the stake presidency identify members to call to Church positions (see pages 37-38). They also review bishops' recommendations of members to serve missions and of brethren to be ordained elders or high priests.
Other agenda items for this meeting could include reporting on assignments, planning meetings, reviewing the stake calendar, and reviewing the stake budget.
Stake Priesthood Executive Committee Meeting
Meeting with Bishoprics
The stake presidency meets regularly with bishoprics to instruct them and to review directions and policies. The stake presidency, all bishoprics, the stake executive secretary, and the stake clerk attend this meeting. If desired, the stake president may limit the meeting to bishops only.
Stake Bishops' Welfare Council Meeting
The stake bishops' welfare council is composed of all bishops in the stake. The stake president appoints one bishop to be chairman of the council. In consultation with the stake president, the chairman arranges meetings, prepares agendas, leads discussions, and arranges for instruction. The stake president attends council meetings occasionally to give instruction. The stake bishops' welfare council does not make policy. Rather, it refers policy matters to the stake president.
The council meets at least quarterly. During these meetings, council members receive instruction in welfare matters. They also exchange ideas and experiences relating to their welfare responsibilities.
Matters for discussion could include trends in fast-offering contributions, welfare needs, and welfare assistance. Council members could also identify work opportunities for members who receive welfare assistance. In addition, they could discuss ways for priesthood quorums and the Relief Society to help meet welfare needs in the stake. They also could identify agencies and services in the community that could be used to assist members.
In areas where there are Church welfare operations, such as Deseret Industries or commodity production projects, the stake bishops' welfare council evaluates the services and management of the operations.
If the stake president has assigned one bishop to oversee assistance to transients, council members could discuss how to coordinate this assistance.
Stake Committee for Single Members Meeting
The bishop oversees ward meetings. He presides at these meetings unless a member of the stake presidency, a General Authority, or an Area Authority Seventy attends. His counselors may conduct ward meetings and may preside if he is absent. Presiding authorities should be invited to sit on the stand.
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. Wards are to hold the following Sunday meetings in one three-hour period (for meeting schedule options, see the "Sunday Meeting Schedules" chart on page 64):
Purposes of Sacrament Meeting
Each sacrament meeting should be a spiritual experience in which members of the Church renew their baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament. Other purposes of sacrament meeting are to worship, receive gospel instruction, perform ordinances, conduct ward business, and strengthen members spiritually.
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 topics for talks and music, select and orient participants, and invite members to give opening and closing prayers.
A sample sacrament meeting agenda follows:
The bishopric encourages families to arrive on time and sit together. Members should be reverent before and during sacrament meeting.
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. Instructions for preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament are on pages 29-30.
Selecting Topics for Talks and Music
The bishopric selects topics for talks and music in sacrament meetings. Talks and music should focus on gospel subjects that ward members most need to build faith and testimony.
Selecting and Orienting Participants
Selecting Participants. The bishopric selects members to participate in sacrament meetings. Most opportunities to participate should be given to ward members. If the bishopric invites members from outside the ward to speak, the guidelines on page 151 should be followed.
Members of the bishopric regularly invite youth ages 12 through 17 to speak in sacrament meeting. Youth should speak briefly (five minutes each) on assigned gospel subjects. They should prepare their own talks, though the bishopric may encourage parents to help. In addition, the bishopric may call a speech specialist to help youth learn to prepare talks and speak in public. The speech specialist is a member of the activities committee.
Missionaries are normally invited to speak in a sacrament meeting just before they depart and when they return (see pages 84 and 87-88). The bishopric plans these meetings.
The bishopric schedules high councilors to speak as assigned by the stake president (usually once each month, though the stake president may adjust the frequency of such assignments according to the needs of the ward).
The bishopric schedules one sacrament meeting each year for the Primary children to take part in a Primary program (see page 237 in Book 2).
Occasionally the bishopric may invite the full-time missionaries who are serving in the area to speak.
Bishoprics 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.
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 explains clearly the topic 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.
Members who participate in sacrament meeting should stay until the meeting ends.
The bishopric selects or approves music for sacrament meetings. Music and musical texts are to be sacred, dignified, and otherwise suitable for sacrament meeting. Guidelines for determining whether music is appropriate are provided on pages 289-90 in Book 2.
Audiovisual materials such as prerecorded music, videocassettes, filmstrips. and slides should not be used in sacrament meeting. An exception may be made to use appropriate recorded accompaniment if a piano, organ, or accompanist is not available.
Sacrament Service in Unusual Situations
Every member needs the spiritual blessings that come from partaking of the sacrament. Occasionally members may be 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 give authorization for a sacrament service to be held away from the meetinghouse. The priesthood holder whom the bishop authorizes to conduct the service must be a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood or hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. He also must be worthy to bless and pass the sacrament. The bishop's authorization is also required if the service will be attended by members of more than one family. 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 a sincere 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.
Fast and Testimony Meeting
One Sunday a month, usually the first Sunday, sacrament meeting is a fast and testimony meeting. Under the bishop's direction, children may be named and blessed and confirmations may be performed before the sacrament is blessed and passed.
After the sacrament, the bishopric member who is conducting bears a brief testimony. He then invites members to bear brief, heartfelt testimonies and to relate faith-promoting experiences.
Priesthood Meeting Opening Exercises
All priesthood holders attend brief opening exercises together before separating for their quorum or group meetings. A member of the bishopric conducts. Opening exercises should include an opening hymn and prayer. They also may include priesthood business, instruction, brief announcements, introduction of new members, additional hymns, and special musical selections.
The elders quorum president and high priests group leader sit with the bishopric during opening exercises.
Priesthood Quorum and Group Meetings
After opening exercises, priesthood quorums and groups meet 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 they may combine the elders quorum and high priests group, Aaronic Priesthood quorums, or all priesthood holders for instruction during this time.
For more information about these meetings, see pages 167-68 and 184-85 in Book 2.
Young Men Meetings
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 refresh the faith of ward members, provide instruction, conduct business, and evaluate activity.
The main session of ward conference is held during sacrament meeting. Normally the agenda for this sacrament meeting is similar to that of others. 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 designated priesthood officer uses the Officers Sustained form (prepared by a ward clerk) to present the names of Church 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 status of individuals and organizations in the ward and to plan for improvement. This meeting need not be held on ward conference Sunday.
The bishopric usually meets at least weekly. The ward executive secretary and ward clerk attend; the clerk records minutes. The bishop may invite others to attend as needed.
During this meeting, members of the bishopric consider all matters affecting the ward. They also plan how to strengthen individuals and families, especially young men and young women, the needy and the aged, unordained brethren, single parents, and children. They evaluate quorums, auxiliaries, programs, and activities. They also make plans to implement instructions from the scriptures, Church leaders, and handbooks.
During 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. In addition, they identify whom to recommend to the stake president to be ordained elders and high priests and to serve as missionaries.
Other agenda items for this meeting could include reporting on assignments, discussing how to improve gospel teaching and learning, planning meetings, reviewing the ward calendar, and reviewing the ward budget.
Ward Priesthood Executive Committee Meeting
When a Church member dies, the bishop visits the family to comfort them and offer assistance from the ward. He may ask his counselors to accompany him. The bishop offers help in notifying relatives, friends, and associates of the death. He also offers help in planning the funeral service, preparing a suitable obituary, and notifying newspapers of the death. In addition, he may offer to help make mortuary and cemetery arrangements according to local laws and customs. As needed, he may offer help from the ward in providing local transportation for the family and for the body of the deceased.
The bishop notifies the Melchizedek Priesthood leader who is responsible for the family so he and other brethren (including home teachers) can assist the bereaved family. Such assistance could include dressing the body of a deceased male for burial, safeguarding the home during the funeral, and providing other support.
The bishop also notifies the Relief Society president so she and other sisters (including visiting teachers) can assist the family. Such assistance could include dressing the body of a deceased female for burial, helping with flowers, tending small children, safeguarding the home during the funeral, and preparing meals (see pages 207-8 in Book 2).
Temple Burial Clothing
Priesthood leaders are responsible for seeing that the meetinghouse is prepared for funerals. It should be open and available to funeral directors at least one hour before the scheduled times for the viewing and funeral. The meetinghouse needs to be clean and brought to appropriate temperature and light levels. The sound system should be activated and tested. Overflow chairs may need to be set up and arranged. At a time when feelings are very sensitive, a well prepared meetinghouse may be a source of comfort and consolation to family members.
Funeral Services for Members
If a funeral for a member is held in a Church building, the bishop conducts it. If it is held in a home, at a mortuary, or at the graveside, the family may ask the bishop to conduct it. A funeral conducted by the bishop, whether in a meetinghouse or in another location, is a Church meeting and a religious service. It should be a spiritual occasion in addition to a family gathering. The bishop should urge members to maintain a spirit of reverence, dignity, and solemnity during a funeral service and at gatherings connected with funerals.
When a bishop conducts a funeral, he or one of his counselors oversees the planning of the funeral. He considers the wishes of the family as he works with them to plan the services. He ensures that the services are simple and dignified, with music and brief addresses and sermons centered on the gospel. Videocassettes and slides should not be used as part of the service. For suggestions about music in funeral services, see page 290 in Book 2.
If a viewing is held immediately before the funeral service, the bishop should conclude it at least 20 minutes before the service begins. The obituary should include the times when the viewing will begin and end.
After the viewing, a family prayer may be offered if the family desires. This prayer should conclude before the funeral is scheduled to begin so it does not impose on the time of the congregation assembled in the chapel. The casket should be closed before it is moved to the chapel for the funeral service.
Funerals should start on time and, as a matter of courtesy to those who attend, should not be too long. Funerals that last more than one and one-half hours place an undue burden on those attending and participating.
Funeral addresses and music should balance tributes with teaching the gospel. Members of the family are not required to speak at funerals.
A member of the stake presidency, a General Authority, or an Area Authority Seventy presides at funeral services he attends. The person conducting should consult him in advance and recognize him during the service. The presiding officer should be extended the opportunity of offering closing remarks if he desires.
Funeral services are not normally held on a Sunday.
If the bishop is not able to attend, he may assign one of his counselors to conduct the funeral and graveside services.
At least one member of the bishopric should accompany the cortege to the cemetery. If the grave is to be dedicated, the bishopric member, after consulting with the family, asks a Melchizedek Priesthood holder to do so according to instructions on page 34. If the family prefers, a graveside prayer rather than a dedicatory prayer may be offered, preferably by a Melchizedek Priesthood holder.
Church members who conduct or take part in funeral services should not accept fees or contributions, whether the service is for a member or a nonmember.
In some cases, bishops can arrange with morticians to provide respectable burial services at cost
when expenses are paid from Church fast-offering funds.
Funeral Services for Nonmembers
Bishops may offer the use of Church meetinghouses for the funeral services of nonmembers. Such services generally may be held in the manner prescribed by the deceased person's church. However, rituals of other churches or of outside organizations may not be performed in a Church meetinghouse. If the family desires, the service may be conducted by a clergyman of the person's church, provided it is dignified and appropriate.