Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sacrament Meeting Without Bloodshed

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Bishop Paul Zimmerman
Subject: No more bloody Sundays

As many of you know, a man was arrested outside an LDS Church in Plain City, UT last Sunday after an argument over "seat saving" in the pews escalated to a fistfight in the parking lot and ended with another man being hit by a car.

While it was a familiar scenario to us--the meeting featured a missionary farewell AND a baby blessing--it drew the attention of the media as well as the curiosity of the non-Mormon community. In an email to all bishops in the Abbottsville Stake, President Knightly wrote:
"Because nonmembers lack our spiritual maturity, they cannot understand the fiery zeal we have for worshiping the Gospel. Consequently, when a common gentile sees us brawling in our church parking lot, he comes away with the wrong impression."
This month's Sacrament Meeting lineup features some popular speakers, notably T. Ralph Sneed, renown expert on vacuum-packed cracked wheat, and also Wilbur Fielding, famous for his folksy pioneer stories and humorous vignettes about Family Home Evening.

In order to prevent an occurrence similar to the one in Plain City, I have employed the firm "Big Beefy Tongans" to secure the parking lot, and I've arranged for overflow parking at the Abbottsville Fairgrounds. The Aaronic Priesthood will run a shuttle service to and from the church. In addition, I ask all ward members to abide by the following new rules:

  • No "seat saving." All pew space is first come, first serve.
  • No concealed weaponry. This includes knives, brass knuckles, water balloons, rolling pins, paintball artillery, detached Spam lids, #2 cans of peaches, and super-soaker water pistols. While a ban on handguns would be in opposition to Gospel principles, the gun's safety MUST be engaged at all times.
  • Ward members will remain in their seats with arms folded until the featured speaker has left the building.

Even with the above safeguards in place, the combination of a rock star speaker and a crowded roomful of his fans can create mass hysteria at any moment. It is important to be prepared. Sister Penelope Barton has attended multiple large-scale events featuring President Dieter Uchtdorf. She offers the following advice:
"Beforehand, obtain a map of the venue and familiarize yourself with the exits. Also, look for high places where you might climb in the event of a frenzy--the podium, a stack of folding chairs, the Cultural Hall stage curtains. If you're swept up in a stampede, move in the direction of the crowd. Latch onto those beside you and let them 'carry' you from the building. If you drop something, let it go, as bending down could result in your falling and being trampled. It you do fall, immediately roll into the fetal position."
The bottom line is we have to come back to church next Sunday. Let's pray it's not our last.

If you would like to stop receiving these emails the situation might escalate into a fistfight. 


  1. :: walks around outside Sacrament Meeting, scalping tickets to the next big fight ::

  2. How funny. I was reading the actual news article after I read your 4th ward email and I had to keep reminding myself that it actually happened and wasn't just an extension of your post.

    What did the bishop mean by this statement:
    "...Ferrin said if there is a “teaching moment” to come from all of this, it is that “split-decisions affect the way we live” and there are consequences."

    What are 'split-decisions'? Is this Mormon speak for something? I understand what this term means in lay terms but I'm not getting it in context with this quote.

    1. That cracked me up too. There always has to be a "teaching moment" from the bishop. Every time I think I'm out of material something like this happens. :)

  3. Dieter Uchtdorf is THE rock Star of all GAs. I'd pay big bucks to Ticketron for tickets to see and hear him. Even if all he did was talk about little forget-me-not flowers, I'd be charmed beyond belief.

    I visit the Morridor from time to time, but in the part of Calidornia where I actually make my home, you'd have to create a riot or hand out free marijuana to get people to fill the pews of an LDS chapel, as opposed to fisticuffs over saving seats.

    1. I burst out laughing the first time I heard Uchtdorf compared to a rock star. Whereabouts in CA do you live? I'm up here in SF. No brawls in the parking lots yet.

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  5. I deleted my last comment because it had too many typos even for my low standards. I'm a pitiful typist. It's sheer amazement that I can play the piano. Now for what my last comment should have said . . .

    I'm in the Santa Barbara area. It has a rather low concentration of Mormons, which may have something to do with property values and the cost of living, but the Romneys and the Marriotts could live anywhere. They just didn't chose to live here, thank God. (A single Romney moving into our area could lower everyone else's property values by at least ten per cent.)

    Maybe we're too hippie-ish and evil in our neck of the woods. The only places in CA that might be worse for Mormons are within the actual city limits of San Francisco, the extreme north, as in Humboldt County, or Santa Cruz, home of UCSC and the infamous Banana Slug mascot. Those Santa Cruz hippies are even more epitomous hippies than are we Santa Barbara area residents.

    1. For believing Mormons, where you live is so important. I live in the city of San Francisco. In "my ward" an openly gay man is serving as the executive secretary. My good friend, who is still a believer, attends church in Walnut Creek. I go to her ward sometimes to see her kids leave or return from missions. The meetings are sooo much easier to take than Sacrament Meetings I've attended in UT.

    2. Meant to also say -- I'm glad you're in such a nice area. I love SB!