Fast and Thankimony Meeting

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It’s been roughly a month since we attended our home ward. Today was our first day back. After the sacrament was blessed, passed, and administered, the first counselor in our bishopric got up to “thank the young men for the reverent manner in which they passed the sacrament”. After they seated themselves, our first counselor proceeded to bear his “testimony”, as is the priviledged right of the one conducting the meeting on sacrament meeting.

I put the word testimony in quotation marks because it really didn’t fit the definition. At first he mentioned how honored he was to have this opportuinity to bear his testimony. He then proceeded:

“I am thankful for my calling. I am thankful for the Bishop. I am thankful for my wife. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my son who is serving a mission.¨

At this point, we were treated to one of his son’s mission stories that revolved around an investigator and the ordinance of the sacrament. We were then given a five minute talk on the sacrament and its sacred significance. He then closed in the name of Jesus Christ and sat down.

One by one, members of the congregation got up and proceeded in a similar manner, following the tone and pattern that the 1st counselor set forth. In the next 45 minutes, I don’t recall hearing once anyone testifying of their knowledge or faith in Christ, any gospel principle, or anything else that would be related to actual testimony bearing.

I believe what we all witnessed in our ward today was the bearing of the thankimony.

Elder Henry B. Eyring in this talk spoke about the bearing of the testimony in Fast and Testimony meeting.

I specifically find the following interesting:

Those who have prepared carefully for the fast and testimony meeting won’t need to be reminded how to bear testimony should they feel impressed to do it in the meeting. They won’t give sermons or exhortations or travel reports or try to entertain as they bear witness. Because they will have already expressed appreciation to people privately, they will have less need to do it publicly. Neither will they feel a need to use eloquent language nor to go on at length.

I wonder why it is that in our LDS culture, the Testimony has evolved into a Thankimony? Is this just one more basic component of the gospel that has been long lost over the years? Are we really so blind that we cannot see how we are .05 degrees off course and slowly substituting proper forms of worship for the the traditions of our fathers? I wonder if the Rameumptom started out as a pulpit that was too short, and built higher so more people could see who was talking?

When I reflect on fast and thankimony meeting, I think “What happens when LDS are called as witnesses in court?” I imagine something like this:

Brother Smith is called as a witness in a traffic accident. He was the only witness of the accident that happened late at night.

Prosecution: Mr Smith, can you give us your testimony as to the events of August 1st at 11:00 pm?

Mr. Smith: I was out walking my dog when the accident happened, and I am so thankful that I had my cell phone with me or I would never have been able to call 911 in time!

P: Ah, yes Mr. Smith, that was fortuinate, but can you testify of what you saw happen?

S: Yes, the police arrived at the scene. I am so thankful for the police force of our city. They are always available when we need them. I don’t know how society would function without then. Our police force is so selfless in how they serve. They put themselves in harms way to protect us. I am so grateful for all they do for us!

Judge: Mr. Smith, while we all share your feelings of gratitude for the police force, the prosecution is asking for your testimony as to the events of the accident. Can you share those with us?

S: Sure. The accident was horrible and the people in the cars were terribly injured, I am so thankful for the paramedics that arrived on the scene. They were so skilled in helping those poor people. We should all be grateful for the many lives they save. I hope and pray that if I am ever in need of medical attention, that they are there to help me.

P: Judge, I have no furthur questions for this witness. Clearly he has nothing to share about the accident.

Are we LDS really this ignorant?

JM

38 thoughts on “Fast and Thankimony Meeting

  1. man, that’s too funny and so true. too many don’t realize that a testimony is in the Savior or the truth the Lord has revealed to us through His Spirit, about the Book of Mormon or the Church or the Prophet. People like to share stories, events that helped them get closer to Christ, but they forget to testify of Christ in the meantime.

    My testimony is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes people’s lives for the better. It brings hope into our lives. The atonement is a light, a direction that brings peace in our lives. That’s what I share.

  2. You are in the minority Dan! But I’m glad that there is someone out there that gets it!!!!

  3. I have heard meetings and “testimonies” like this my entire life. There are sometimes good ones, real testimonies in among the travelogues and thanking sessions. The key is understanding what testimony means. I think it has lost its meaning for many people.

    I have to admit I don’t get up to bear mine very often, and its mainly because I do have a very simple testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and well, it just wouldn’t take too long.

  4. The most interesting testimony in recent years for me is this HP who trys to make sure he is the last speaker every F&T and then recites what the other speakers have spoken as his testimony.

    I am very much like Mary – I very seldom will bear my testimony at Church. After the same kids say the same things month after month, and the same adults tell abut their trip or their child on a mission I tend to leave a F&T less spiritual than before I arrived.

    I admidt that I did not attend Church today. The thought of going to F&T was just too much.

  5. Oh, goody, I get to share with you what happened in testimony meeting in Vernal today. This is the honest truth; I am a temple recommend holder and I am not lying! The second person to get up took 40 minutes to bear her testimony about a corneal transplant she had just experienced. She began when she first discovered she had eye problems and continued until the eye was deteriorating and “a substance the consistency of egg-white was dripping from the eye.” Apparently she didn’t feel that described it well enough since she went on for 5 more minutes elucidating the viscosity of the drainage to the point that many of the Young Women in the room were actually gagging. I myself had to spit out my gum.

    That said, I must admit that I took exception to Elder Eyring’s talk. Not that we should turn testimony meeting into travelogues or thank-a-mony meetings. But I appreciate hearing more than just the formulaic “I know the scriptures are true.” I am interested in knowing how the person arrived at their testimony, and I enjoy (most) stories that relate to the acquiring of the testimony.

    (Sorry, but I’d actually prefer being grossed out than being bored to death.) But you know me…

  6. My wife and I have made it a personal mission to destroy thankamonies and reinstitute testimonies about Christ and His gospel. Whenever we see things get off track in testimony meetings one of us will get up there and bear our testimony. You’d be surpised how that can set the tone for the rest of the testimonies.

    My least favorite testimonies, though, have to be praise the local leader testimony. Has anyone else noticed this? Yesterday almost all the testimonies were about how awesome our Bishop is. Granted, our Bishop is great, but the point of testimony meeting isn’t to bear wittness of how great the Bishop is. It seems like whever a stake leader shows up to Fast and Testimony meeting everyone starts saying how awesome that person is. They don’t mention Jesus, but President So and so gets praised heaped on them.

  7. We had a member actually talk about this very topic yesterday at our F&T meeting. He called them storeymonies and everyone chuckled then he went on to say he had one to share.. He actually brought visual aids up with him. He talked about how he had been using a grinder and how it had slipped and the sparks had actually caught his shirt on fire and he held up the shirt for public display with the appropriate cues for oooohs and ahhhhs. He made people laugh several times and he was a great entertainer.

    We had our inactive son and his non member wife there with us yesterday (didn’t even know they were coming they just slid in the seat beside us just after we had had sacrament) and as I listened to him speak I listened to him through my daughter in law’s ears and it made me wonder what she was thinking.

    To be honest I can’t even remember what anyone said the rest of the meeting but one young woman. She is moving to Ontario in a couple of weeks and she did speak of how she got her testimony and how it had grown and how she was able to let go of her parents coattails now that she had her own. It was very simple but very heart warming. Very sincere. No laughter, no stories, just a testimony that Jesus was the Christ.

    She was the last one to bear hers and I wonder if the meeting would have had a different outcome had she been the first one.

  8. An expression of thanks *to God* (as opposed to expressions of thanks to random others or no one in particular) is a critical part of a testimony. Compare Alma 26.

  9. Dan, #1: “My testimony is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes people’s lives for the better…. That’s what I share.” I think this is related to another comment:

    Bored in Vernal, #5: “I am interested in knowing how the person arrived at their testimony…” Amen to that!

    I have a sincere question for those who think their F&T meetings go awry: What difference would you make by bearing your own testimony?

  10. Historically, very little. I seem to always be the odd man out when I try to be “correct”.

    Things probably work that way because rather than being motivated by love, my correct testimony giving is motivated by frustration.

    Since comming to that realization, I’ve been waiting to feel the love, but it just hasn’t come through yet.

  11. This criticism a more than a bit harsh and quite unfair when you look at some of the silly things our GAs say sometimes. Give the lay members some slack.

  12. The one problem with the short, sweet, to-the-point testimony is that it assumes there exist enough members attend the meeting to fill the required time. I’m a member of a very small branch. There’s very little branch business and the sacrament ordinance requires less than 5 minutes to complete with the end result being that our little branch with an average Sunday attendance of less than 30 (including children) is typically left with 50-60 minutes of time to fill. If everyone followed the short, sweet, to-the-point formula then we’d spend a lot of time sitting in awkward silence even if everyone bore their testimony. When I was a member of larger wards I always complained about storimonies but given our current unit I don’t complain nearly as much. I must confess that I much prefer to listen to the scattered ramblings of the more “interesting” members of our branch to sitting in silence waiting for the required time to pass before the BP is permitted to close the meeting.

  13. Things are different in branches.

    It was similar when we attended the Swift Current branch both times. Of course, they had a birthday cake in the chapel after the meetings too. :)

  14. Why not end the meeting early?

    You would get to sunday school and priesthood / rs quicker, and get home earlier for that nap!

  15. I don’t see why meeting times have to be a particular longer time, in smaller areas. There just isn’t enough to fill it up.

    Testimony meeting is for testimonies, I think this is very important, but in spite of frequent reminders by the Bishopric, few people seem to remember this.

  16. JM, #11: Thanks for the response. What you say is a constant struggle for me: how can I love someone and not just fake-love them so that they will change and become easy to love? I’m afraid that I’m often too arrogant.

    Re #8 and #9: I think hymn 293 is beautiful.

    Mary, #17: I met in a branch that had a 2.5 hour block. It worked quite nicely.

  17. “Mary, #17: I met in a branch that had a 2.5 hour block. It worked quite nicely.”

    See it works! That’s good to know. Thanks BrianJ

  18. I understand the theory and thinking behind these ‘observations’. People do ramble, they don’t follow protocol etc…but isn’t church similiar to school. A place for those who want to learn as opposed to place for those who already know everything?

    I’ve had to sit and listen to Sis. Munch talk about her sickly grandchildren more times than I care to listen but in that talk, in that Thankimony there is something honest and real about her. Because she did’t do it the way we think she should or the way she was counselled is trivial. The fact remains that she participated, she was moved upon to share and I probably sat, saying and sharing nothing.

    I appreciate the simple testimony and find it all the more powerful when it is given in the midst of reports and stories. By it’s simple powerful nature, I believe it is God’s way of teaching truth and reminding Sis Munch and the rest of us that which we should be sharing.

  19. If that is the case Nikki, then why would the bretheren offer counsel in the first place?

    I submit that there is something fundamentally wrong with the majority of church members not knowing what a real testimony is or how to appropriately share it.

    Again, another principle, basic element of our faith that is ignored and forgotten. Another one degree off course.

    My main issue is this, If we don’t know what a testimony is, how can we effectivly share it? And if we can’t effectivly share it, then many other things suffer (testimonys of our children, missionary work, etc…)

    If we gain a testimony by sharing it, and we never really share it, then will we ever gain or grow it? Or will it just atrophy?

    I think there is a time and a place for the sick grandchildren stories. There is value in that. That time and place is not in fast and testimony meeting.

    $0.02

  20. “I think there is a time and a place for the sick grandchildren stories.”

    Isn’t it called “enrichment night”, or something like that? =)

  21. I think it depends on which end of the story you are. Some would call it borrrrrring.

  22. Today a sister rambled on and on for ten minutes about how grateful she was for all the many talents she had been blessed with and how blessed we all were that she shared them with us. Another elderly sister spent about two minutes in a sweet sincere testimony. She briefly mentioned her gratitude for her family. It was a perfect testimony. What’s wrong with sitting quietly reflecting on our own personal testimonies if we live in a small branch with lots of “downtime” during Fast and Testimony meeting? If someone finds that time boring, perhaps they could use it to pray to feel the Spirit more abundantly and enjoy that time of peace and reflection. After all, reverence invites revelation.

  23. It doesn’t bother me if someone briefly expresses appreiation to the ward if they’ve had a crisis that required the ward’s help, just as long as the bulk of their thanks goes to the Lord for sustaining and strengthening them through their difficulty. What does bug me are those thankimonies that read like an Academy award acceptance speech. One man was recently released from the YM program. He tearfully thanked the counselor who issued the calling, the members of the YM presidency, each of the other men he worked with and each of the young men he worked with. He then proceeded to thank his wife for her support and sacrifice all the times he was away on overnight trips and then each of his children. There was nothing brief in his remarks either. Not one word about the Savior, the priesthood, the Prophet etc. I will never forget his thankimony because it was so inaapropriate. What really bugs me though are the bragamonies. And I quote “I would like to take this opportunity to tell my son how proud I am that he graduated from BYU. Translation “My kid got into BYU and yours didn’t because I am a superior parent and my child is smarter than yours. “This week I was on an airplane and I talked to a stranger about the church.” Translation Aren’t you proud I’m such a good missionary. Or “This week I talked with a coworker about the Church” Same translation. Or “I’m so grateful for my glorious children and how righteous and obedient they are.” Translation “I am an amazing parent and I bet you wish your kids were just like mine.” My own grown kids are all active in the church and I never once wished they were like someone elses. I also never once praised them in testimony meeting. They got that in private. Besides that they were so wonderful I didn’t need to point it out to anyone :-} It also bugs me that some gorgeous people use this time to be front and center, all eyes on them. They get up far more often than most people, say pretty much the same thing-“I’m so grateful for my friends” and of course are dressed and made up and coiffed to perfection. Usually it’s women, older and younger,but once in a while a male will do this. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest because it has been bugging me and of course we shouldn’t gossip so I can’t tell my feelings to just anyone. Now it won’t bug me anymore. I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to thank you and to express my appreciation to you for letting me express my feelings and to tell you that I am thankful that the vast majority of testimonies and meetings are wonderful, uplifting and very appropriate.:-} One more thing, the most bizarre “testimony” I ever heard was a visitor who was visiting his in-laws. The father in law was the first one to bear his testimony and said he felt so strongly that he needed to be the first one. It was a beautiful, sincere simple testimony. A few minutes later his son-in-law proceeded to stand and tell everyone that his wife had been the victim of incest. It was as though the Spirit had been sucked out with a vacuum. The Bishop stood and ushered this whacko out. I truly don’t believe a word he said and I know the Fatherinlaw had that prompting so we could all be reminded of what a sincerly good man he was.

  24. I try to advise people not to be afraid of silence in a testimony meeting. Don’t stand up and say, “I couldn’t let this time go to waste.” It isn’t going to waste. The Spirit can teach us great lessons in moments of dignified silence. Speak because you’re moved upon by the Holy Ghost, not because you’re uncomfortable in a quiet room.

  25. Suzanne said: “The father in law was the first one to bear his testimony and said he felt so strongly that he needed to be the first one. It was a beautiful, sincere simple testimony. A few minutes later his son-in-law proceeded to stand and tell everyone that his wife had been the victim of incest.”

    I was sitting in a T meeting less than 6 months ago when a sister started bearing hers and she started talking about being raped in the hospital and other times. When the Bishop got up to aks her to stop talking she collapsed to the floor. There were several doctors in the chapel and they rushed to help. The Bishop then closed the meeting early.

    In Suzanne’s example, It might be the son-in-law is frustrated with having to deal with his wifes mental anguish and he is striking out to revenge her. Noble perhaps but the wrong time and place.

    What makes you think the Father-in-law did not know it might happen and took a defensive position first?

    I hope your Bishop will spend the time to look into these allegations. Are there other daughters at home? They could be in danger or worse.

    Just remember this – Anyone can pretend to be anything they want to during 3 hours a week.

  26. This is tangentially related to the way the sacrament is administered. I lose patience with people who place great importance on things like having all the deacons stand at precisely the same instant, or having the accompanist continue playing the hymn after the congregation has stopped singing because the priests haven’t finished breaking the bread, or the like. They seem to be treating the ordinance as a kind of show, with showbiz production values paramount. I don’t think the congregation is harmed by a few moments of silence while the priests finish breaking bread. I don’t think it distracts anyone from contemplation of the Atonement if the deacons walk, stand and sit in a natural way.

  27. the whacko stated that the incest was from a brother, not the father. whether those allegations are true or not, this was not the time or place to discuss them. i don’t believe the man because it was like i said, the Spirit left like it was being sucked out by a vacuum. there were also no children in the home. they were empty nesters. he also claimed the abuse had happened when they were children and that’s why he was divorcing his wife.

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