|This article does not cite any sources. (December 2009)|
Sacrament meetings are held in individual wards or branches in the chapel of the meetinghouse. The bishop or branch president of the ward or branch presides, unless a higher authority is present. Anyone is invited to attend, whether they are a member of the church or not. Sacrament meetings are not held during stake or district conferences, or during the church's general conference.
Those attending sacrament meeting generally wear "Sunday formal" dress. Men wear suits and ties, and women wear modest dresses or skirts. Children are encouraged to attend, but when they become unruly, the parents generally escort them into the lobby.
- Shortly before the start of the meeting, the bread and water - which constitute the sacrament - are prepared by one or more young men, generally teachers in the church's Aaronic priesthood.
- After the bread and water are readied, they are covered with a formal shroud, which resembles a tablecloth.
- Invitations to give prayers are generally extended by members of the bishopric or branch presidency.
- First, the conducting officer (usually a member of the bishopric or branch presidency) welcomes those in attendance.
- Announcements or other informational items of general interest, if any, are presented.
- An opening hymn is sung by the congregation.
- The invocation, or opening prayer, is given by a member of the congregation.
- Church business is conducted. This includes the announcement of assignments and callings, the call for consent on various issues and assignments, and performance of ordinances, such as naming and blessing children and the confirmation of recently baptized converts. As with the announcements, this is optional and is only conducted when necessary.
- A sacrament hymn is sung by the congregation. As the song is sung, the priests of the Aaronic priesthood prepare the bread by breaking it into small (one inch or so) pieces. After this, the priests bless the bread. It is distributed to the congregation by deacons. After this, the priests bless the water, which is distributed in like manner. The prayers used are exact (see Doctrine and Covenants, Section 20:75-79). If a mistake is made in the prayer, it is repeated from the beginning. Where sufficient number of Aaronic Priesthood holders are not available, Melchizedek priesthood holders may prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament, as needed.
- Various sermons, or speeches, also known as "talks", are delivered by previously assigned members of the congregation. Occasionally, visiting officials, such as members of the stake high council or stake presidency may speak. Often, congregational hymns or special musical numbers are included before or between talks. If it is Fast Sunday, the congregation is invited to share their testimonies as they feel inclined, rather than hearing prepared talks. (See Fast and testimony meeting.)
- The meeting closes with another congregational hymn and a benediction, or closing prayer.
Sacrament meetings usually last approximately 70 minutes. Other church meetings that follow, or precede, sacrament meeting include Sunday School and Relief Society or priesthood quorum meetings for adults; Sunday School classes, Young Women and Young Men classes for the youth; and Primary classes and a nursery for children. The sum of these meetings constitute Sunday services and typically lasts three hours and in the church is known as "the block" or "the three hour block".
Members of the LDS Church believe that the ordinance of the sacrament allows them to renew the covenants they made when they were baptized. They generally attend seeking to be forgiven for their shortcomings during the week and to begin anew with renewed conviction.
With the approval of the bishop, priesthood holders may administer the sacrament to those who are homebound or otherwise cannot attend sacrament meeting.
A collection plate is not passed as part of sacrament meeting, or any other church service. The church operates by lay ministry, and local leaders, teachers, and speakers are not compensated. Church members make private contributions to the church, including tithing, usually using small envelopes.