What I Learned in Montana

I attended a small branch of the LDS church in some small town in Montana today. I can’t even remember the name of the town. It was the best church service I’ve attended in a long time. The quirks and imperfections I found in this small branch made me remember why I love the LDS church. This being the Sunday before Christmas, it was the annual Christmas service, which means it’s pretty heavy on musical numbers. I was overwhelmed by the rendition of O Holy Night sung by a 12 year old girl. It was off-key and she struggled to reach the high notes, but it was the most beautiful song I’ve heard in a long time. And it represents everything I love about the LDS church.

Every week when I attend the LDS church, I hear many things I disagree with, plenty of doctrines I can’t endorse, and numerous policies that make me very uncomfortable. And this goes even beyond the difference I may have with the LDS church as a whole. This includes times when Sunday School teachers make comments that I’m pretty sure most church members wouldn’t agree with. But this is what comes along with having unpaid local leadership. I walk away from church each week with a long list of “flaws.” But like the 12 year old, who brought many in the congregation to tears with her beautifully imperfect voice, the imperfections in church leadership, policy, doctrine, and general membership is what draws me to it. I don’t expect any members of the church to be perfect, and in return, they accept my imperfections.

We are a church that encourages 14 year olds to speak in Sacrament Meetings each week. We are a church that hands Sacrament Meeting over to the Primary children at least once each year. Each week, unpaid and untrained members of the congregation are asked to deliver a sermon to the congregation. Once a month, the church allows anyone from the congregation to say pretty much whatever they want to the congregatoin. To say the least, this is not a system designed to ensure the truthfulness of everything said from the pulpit. Perhaps that’s what I’ve failed to understand for so many years.

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