Yesterday I attended my ninth religious service (only one more to go!) for challenge no. 29. This time I paid a visit to the Mormons at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Harlem.
I'm going to let this Wikipedia article do the heavy lifting of explaining Mormonism, if you're interested or in some sort of emergency boredom situation.
And by the way, because I know you're curious, it was EXACTLY like the Book of Mormon on Broadway. Except there were no dance numbers, no references to Africa (or Orlando), no laughing, no plot twists, and no complete and utter disregard for the sacredness of the religion. Also I wasn't mildly drunk.
After tossing my coffee in the trash a block away from the church, I showed up at 1:00 for the YSA or "Young Single Adult" service (a friend from work attends, so I opted to join her). The structure of the service was pretty expected: hymn, invocation, sacrament, hymn, speakers, hymn.
Instead of some sort of preacher, there were three "speakers" (a young woman, a young man, and an older gentleman who serves on the High Council) who addressed the attendees on the day's topic: the importance of family. Appropriate topic, as most of the young brothers and sisters listening were probably dating or thinking of dating and having to come to terms with a lot of the Mormon rules when it comes to dating or thinking of dating.
Each speech was very personal. They spoke of their backgrounds, relayed childhood anecdotes, and cried. The third speaker gave the most sermon-esque address, telling the young and single members of the church that it is their duty as Mormons to uphold the family as the foundation and core of the church. Go find a mate, create Mormon babies, and pray together as a family. Oh, and engage in wholesome activities, like camping. This will keep the Mormon religion alive and thriving.
Mild sarcasm aside, I did take some very positive messages away from the experience:
The third speaker (who, by the way, had a very interesting story of being born in a hippie commune and then adopted by Mormons) asked, "Think of your happiest memory. Were you with family?" I realized that most of my happiest times have indeed involved family.
Then he said, "If you love someone, tell them frequently and sincerely that you love them."
I left dripping with gratefulness that I have such an amazing family (and future family). Seriously, they are incredible. So to my family (yes, even you McBrides): I love you.