They say the church is the same wherever you go. Do not be fooled. All you have to do is drive a few short miles from headquarters, up Little Cottonwood Canyon, to find the version designed for those of us who, apparently, don't need such an intensive group experience as the rest of you.
We're vacationing at Snowbird this week. Not exactly a bastion of Mormonism. To our surprise we opened the bedside table drawer to find the typical Gideon Bible and a Book of Mormon.
This Book of Mormon was unlike any other I had ever seen. Yes, it looked much like the typical missionary edition. But there, on the cover, right under the title, was glued a piece of parchment cardstock that read:
Snowbird Center Level 2
9 ?10 AM on Sunday
Casual dress OK!
Please turn to page 529 – Moroni 10:4
Two things are really standing out to me here. First, the new-fangled one hour block. Second, the explicit proclamation indicating that swimming/hiking/skiing attire is expected. Woo hoo! We are so ready to be part of the new, reduced stress, pantyhose-free pilot program!
First thing this morning, we popped out of bed, threw on some pants, t-shirts, and flip flops, and strolled down to the Center. Following the signs, we arrived at a glass-enclosed room, filled with chairs, surrounded by trees.
The first disconcerting sight was the man greeting us who was obviously not OK with casual attire. At least he wasn't OK with himself dressed down. The second was a room sparsely filled with other people who were also not OK with the edgy concept of casual.
Still, we made our way to some chairs, heads held high, making our best impression of investigators-who-don-not-know-better-than-to-believe-that-casual-dress-is-really-OK. I guess we blew our cover when the kids displayed their complete memorization of all of the Selected Hymns and Caleb called out, “I can pass the bread all by myself!”
Church Light began a few minutes late (good news for those of us trying to coax a toddler past the playground and the fishing pond to sit on a chair for an hour), and began with a hymn and a prayer. (Oh, yes, by a priesthood holder who was worthy, I assume, to invite the Spirit.) Then the man conducting explained the concept of the resort version of church. From what I could gather, those presiding and teaching were members from the Little Cottonwood and Granite wards assigned to create this weekly mini-meeting on some kind of a rotating basis. Attendance varies from a high of 175 to a low of zero. (Today we had about 60 or so stragglers.) Then we spent a few minutes while each “head of household” introduced their ?household.
Next we moved to Gospel Doctrine, figuratively speaking, which consisted of a nice, 15-minute discussion about Matthew 25. Then it was on to Sacrament Meeting: hymn, sacrament, and two short speakers. The first speaker was a newly returned missionary on assignment by his high council, accompanied by his father who happened to be Sam's cousin. We can all now break into a resounding chorus of “It's a Small World.”
The next mini-speaker (being “mini” because of the length of his talk, not because of his diminutive stature) gave a genuinely moving, sincere talk about trials, trust in the Lord, and the like. Very nice. Also enforced the idea that five-minute talks might be just about right.
After brief closing remarks, we sang and had a closing prayer. (Oh, yes, by a non-priesthood holder who was worthy, I assume, to invite the Spirit to leave?) Then we stacked the chairs, chatted with a few folks (including the long-lost cousin), and headed out.
Truly, I missed the old and familiar, but it was fun to experience church today in capri pants. (Nearly alone though I might have been.) And I'm grateful to the folks who make the weekly trek up the canyon (rain or shine, 52-weeks a year unless the roads are impassable), just to make church convenient and casual for vacationing families.