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Religion Library: Mormonism

Rites and Ceremonies

Written by: Stephen Taysom

The private rituals of Mormonism take place within the Church's temples and may only be performed or witnessed by members of the Church who are in good standing. Although Mormons who have participated in these rituals take solemn vows not to disclose the specifics of the ceremonies to anyone, the LDS Church has published general descriptions of the rites.  The main temple ritual is called the "endowment" and consists of a recitation of the main events of sacred history, including the creation of the earth and the events that took place in the Garden of Eden, as well as a process of covenant making in which the initiate agrees to live according the teachings of the LDS Church.  Worthy Mormons also participate in ceremonies of "sealing" in which spouses are married for eternity and in which children are bound to their parents in an eternal family unit.  In both the endowment and sealing rituals, Mormons dress in ceremonial clothing, a practice that adds to the liturgical richness and complexity of the temple rites.

LDS temples are also the sites for rituals performed on behalf of the dead.  LDS doctrine maintains that individuals who die without knowledge of the true gospel must be provided with an opportunity to accept those teachings in the afterlife.  It is the responsibility of faithful Mormons to search out the genealogical records of their ancestors and to perform by proxy all of the sacred ordinances and rituals of Mormonism. Mormons are thus baptized, endowed, and sealed during temple rituals in which they stand in for those who are deceased.  The rituals performed in temples, in contrast to the public rituals, are presided over and, in the case of sealings, performed by individuals with special responsibility for temple work.

Mormons also perform simple rituals associated with death.  Mormon funerals tend to be occasions for large family gatherings, with an emphasis on the life of the deceased and the importance of eternal family relationships.  Mormons who have been through the endowment rituals are typically buried in their ritual temple clothing.  Often, the grave is dedicated by a Melchizedek priesthood holder through an informal prayer asking God to protect the grave and its occupant until the time of resurrection.

Study Questions:
1.     Why is Mormonism considered to be a liturgically simple faith? What rituals does it celebrate?
2.     Describe the ritual of communion as practiced by Mormons.
3.     How is the ritual of baptism performed?
4.     What rituals are associated with the dead? Why are they important?


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