Okay, this may offend some, but it needs to be shared because I have seen it over and over and I strongly believe and feel it must be stopped. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we hold what we call stake conference twice a year. It’s a meeting where all local congregations in a certain district meet together to sustain leaders and hear counsels from them on how to do and become better disciples of Jesus Christ. It gets pretty crowded and my family and others arrive at least two hours early to find good seats. I enjoy stake conference and receive inspirations that help me in my eternal journey.
However, in this meeting there are reserved seats. You will see signs “reserved” on some benches. The first two rows closer to the pulpit are reserved for perspective elders (those who will receive the Melchizedek priesthood.) After their names are called, they return to sit with their families leaving the benches empty throughout the rest of the meeting. The other benches are reserved for the families of stake leaders (president, his two counselors, some other guests and what not.) And, this is what I dislike about stake conference.
This “reserved” seating gets on my nerves and it must not have a place in this church whether it is at a stake conference or any other meeting and in any other place! Why? First, it is not right and fair at all to those who wake up early, prep their kids and families, and sacrifice sleep to make it there on time to find good seats. People who sit in these reserved seats know there are reserved seats for them and can come anytime they like. It is very annoying. We are taught we are all “families”, but what this reserved seat means to me is there are more important people than me and everybody else that goes early to find a good seat. It means, those with leadership callings and their families are more important than everybody else. Don’t we all pay the same % of tithing? Don’t we all have callings/assignments and serve too? Is there anything special about people that seat in these reserved seats to merit that “privilege”? It deems others more important than the rest. It is segregation based on callings. Aren’t we all equal in our membership in this church? Didn’t the Savior teach “But he that is greatest among you should be your servant”? I don’t see reserved seating for wheelchairs and the elderly, but surely for families of stake leaders. Don’t get me wrong, I respect stake leaders, I listen to their “inspired” counsels and strive to follow, but I don’t treat them like their callings. I don’t remember Christ having a reserved seat at any synagogue or a meeting; He simply sat with the people and taught them. He led by example and love. So, if I or you want a good seat during these meetings, do what is necessary to get one. Seating must be open to everyone. No special treatment! No “air of elite” (Thanks Sharon) in the church of Jesus Christ. The Savior is the only elite that must have a reserved seat in our minds and hearts.
By the way, why not have the perspective elders sit with their families and come to the front when their names are called because those two benches are only occupied for the first 10-15mins of the meeting and then empty for the next 1 hour and 45mins. That is very dumb!
I don’t know if this happens throughout the whole church, but I do know it is a practice in our local stake, so please do not take this as a church mandated policy/tradition. This kind of matter is handled locally.