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Jan. 24th, 2011 at 11:59 am
Yesterday was a cold and blustery day here in upstate New York. New snow had fallen overnight, and that always messes up the Church parking lot, but also forces many ward members to dig themselves out before they can get to Church. I really wasn’t expecting too many people to be there at the beginning of Sacrament Meeting, but I did notice a pew full of strangers. Not a little one, either, but one of those long center pews. They were a mix of adults and teenagers, and they seemed to know each other. Generally, I like to introduce myself when I can, because I fear we too often overlook people who are attending for the first time, but I was slipping in under the limit myself.
During the opening song, I ran through the possibilities: new family? No–too many of them all at the same age; youth conference or BYU group here to see the site? Maybe–but pretty awful timing and they just didn’t look very Utah. Members from the southern part of the state in town for the hospitals? No–that wouldn’t have been en masse. Luckily, my boys were fussy, so I was quickly distracted from trying to figure them out.
In the course of the meeting, the conducting member of the Bishopric read my mind and revealed the secret of our visitors: they were a Sunday School class from a local church who came to observe our meetings.
I never would have guessed.
Apparently, we hosted a special Sunday School class for them with a panel discussion and Q&A for these Sunday Scholars, too.
What a great idea! I am sure they got a better feel for our Church through this little experience than many Mormons have for ANY other religion. We were more than happy to host them; their families put in significant effort to get them to us on a frigid day and missed their own meetings to boot. Would WE ever do this? I don’t think so. We seem pretty convinced that our time in youth Sunday School is better spent inculcating our own religious theory than exposing our youth to the religious thoughts and practices of others. I’d say that is arguable.
Personally, I love that stuff. I take my kids around town and attend other churches for both special events and regular worship on General Conference weekends (it doesn’t start until 12 here). They are too young to object so far, but I hope they will appreciate the net results of seeing how other denominations practice their religion–it is a rich knowledge that has served me well.