I was attending sacrament meeting for the first time since having a my first baby. During the passing of the sacrament, my infant was fussing and I stepped out into the hall to soothe and rock the child. I was eager to receive the sacrament having not received it since before having a baby. I stood just outside the open door of the chapel and was in view of the bishopric and a couple of men passing the sacrament. The closest man to me came all the way to the door inside the chapel with the sacrament tray, made eye contact with me on the outside of the chapel doors, and turned away to pass to a different row. I thought there must have been a mistake and I looked up to the Bishop, and he made eye contact with me. I waited for the Bishop to direct the young man to bring a tray to me on the outside of the door. Nothing. Next the water was passed and again I was skipped in plain view of the bishopric and now many members of the ward.
I couldn’t understand it and it hurt me deeply. I went into the mother’s room and sobbed. I didn’t know that caring for a small child also made me invisible.
The Bishop called me and my husband into his office after the block. He explained that he saw me not take the sacrament and said that in the future, if I wanted to partake of the sacrament, I needed to be inside the doors of the chapel. He had instructed those passing the sacrament that it could only be passed to people inside the chapel. He wanted to see everybody that partook of the bread and water, to make sure they were worthy to do so.
Feeling furious and deeply hurt, I confided in my Relief Society President who brought it up with the Bishop. But it wasn’t until my husband brought it to the attention of an Area Seventy who addressed it with the Bishop, that the Bishop finally agreed to let sacrament be passed outside the chapel.
On that day, as a brand new mother, longing to be connected to the spirit and the Lord through the partaking of the sacrament, I felt completely and utterly invalidated. My desire to be obedient was trumped by the Bishop’s desire to control. Furthermore, the voices of women couldn’t compel him to change, only a man with higher authority than himself.
Sydney is an aspiring public health professional working in the humanitarian field. She lives in the beehive state with her son and husband.
Pro-tip: Be sensitive to the needs of anyone who is unable to sit in the chapel during the sacrament by ensuring that they have the opportunity to participate.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)