Last weekend we were in Utah and we had a very church filled weekend. Friday evening we went to one of the Salt Lake City synagogues (there are several: one Chabad, one Reform/Conservative and apparently one more Reform) for Mincha/Kabbalat Shabbat. The service was a lot different from what my kids are used to, but they behaved well, even P, who has the hardest time sitting through churchy things. For one thing there was a lot less singing than we are used to, and it was odd that most of the singing was done by the chazzan (cantor) only. Like... Lecha Dodi wasn't a communal song.
Saturday we visited the oldest congregation in Utah, in Ogden. We spent the day with Kevin's family there, and then Sunday morning we all drove back to Orem to go to church with Kevin's elder brother Gary, whose youngest daughter was blessed and given a name in sacrament meeting and whose eldest son was ordained a deacon (in the LDS chruch boys are ordained into the Aaronic Priesthood at 12 as deacons, then they become teachers at 14 and priests at 16, and when they turn 18 they can be ordained elders, the lowest "rank" in the Melchizedek priesthood). As both are important events in the lives of LDS families, it was only natural that we accompany them to church. It meant an extre three hours of sitting through church for the kids.
The first hour, Sacrament Meeting, was a fast and testimony meeting. That meant that after the baby blessing varioud members of the congregation can go to the pulpit and bear their testimonies. This can turn into quite an interesting and entertaining thing, as all members are welcome to do so. In my experience this is a time when members with psychiatric problems get to participate the most. Now in Ireland and Hungary my experience was that before things get truly weird, someone gently intervenes, but in this ward, where the last non-members visited four years ago, this intervention doesn't come. So we got to hear a very colorful testimony about the greatness of G-d and how He sent the Battlestar Galactica from Kolob toreplenish the earth and so on and so on.
I have to say my kids were kind of confused by what the LDS actually believe after this, but soon they realised that the lady was not quite right in the head. However, the way they treat the truly weird and crazy members speaks volumes of a community, and the love and acceptance this lady was treated with warmed the heart. No one laughed or ridiculed her, people were loving and kind.
The only conflict was a slight and short one. You see my eldest is a committed kippah wearer. So he wore a kippah to an LDS sacrament meeting. Of course he was ready to wait out in the car. Gary decided to talk to the bishop and Craig was welcome to come in, kippah and all. :) The only person not okay with that was one of the Primary teachers, so my boys didn't go to Primary with the cousins. They sis have fun in the foyer though.
And the good news? In two years Gary and family will visit us in Israel for Craig's Bar Mitzvah!