The Covenant Keeper’s Guide to Attending Church While on Vacation

You may have heard that it has been said by them of old time that covenant keepers will attend the full three-hour block of Sunday church meetings, even while on vacation. But I say unto you that that’s not nearly enough. Simply attending the three-hour block is for slothful, lukewarm covenant breakers who were clearly less valiant in the pre-existence. If you want to demonstrate that you’re a true covenant keeper, you’ll be sure to do the following while on vacation:

  • The church building you’ll be attending isn’t going to clean itself! You’ll establish your covenant-keeper status by showing up early Saturday morning to clean the church you’ll be attending.
  • Nothing follows up a good church cleaning like a good temple visit. And don’t be a freeloader! Bring your own family names! (I hope you weren’t thinking of vacationing somewhere without a temple nearby. If you were, you might as well stop reading right now because you’re clearly destined to end up on Jesus’s left hand.)
  • Be sure to attend ward council for the ward you’ll be attending. Don’t worry about intruding! Think of the unfortunate ward leaders who don’t have the regular blessing of your presence. They’re no better than non-members who don’t enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost! They will be sure to welcome you! And don’t put your light under a bushel when the meeting starts either. Share your wisdom and insights freely. Remember, a mind unencumbered by background information is a mind most open to radical inspiration!
  • In sacrament meeting, if any callings are extended, be sure to raise your hand as opposed. You don’t know who these people are! For all you know they’re all child molesters and Democrats! Better safe than sorry! Ward members will thank you later for rooting out the wicked from among them.
  • If a baby is blessed or a new member is confirmed, don’t allow the ordinance to go forward without confirming both the membership status and worthiness level of all participants. Require a photo ID, a current temple recommend, and a laminated priesthood line of authority. The best practice is to verify presence of male genitalia as well, but for the squeamish, it is permissible to simply accept that a person’s photo ID is correct about their sex. Don’t worry about holding up the meeting or embarrassing the participants when you jump up to do this. If you allow an invalid ordinance to be performed in your presence, the participants’ blood will be on your garments!
  • As a covenant keeper, it’s your job to keep the sacrament unpolluted. If any young men or men who will be administering it are wearing a non-white shirt or a too-gaudy tie, bring it to the attention of the bishop at once, ideally before the meeting starts. But don’t let the awkwardness of disrupting the meeting stop you from your sacred calling. If a tardy priesthood holder attempts to join the ranks of sacrament blessers or passers while wearing unholy garb, don’t hesitate to physically block his way. Note that it’s best to sit near the sacrament table to prevent anyone from slipping past you.
  • When the sacrament prayers are given, follow along in your scriptures to make sure that they are spoken with exactness. In theory, the bishop should be doing this, but the sad truth is that you can never trust your salvation to a strange bishop. For all you know, he would happily let a missing word slide, and you would end up eating and drinking damnation to your soul! If you catch any errors that the bishop misses, wave to get his attention, or yell if necessary.
  • When the sacrament is passed, keep an eye on others around you. If anyone else fails to take the sacrament, or worse, partakes with their left hand, give them a loud “tsk” and a significant look to let them know their indiscretion didn’t get past you. If you have a smartphone, snap a quick picture so you can apprise the bishop of who in his congregation is sinning.
  • If it’s a fast Sunday, be sure to take the opportunity to bear your testimony. At length. Remember, these people hear from each other every week, and they’re likely just repeating the same old false doctrine back and forth to one another. This is your chance to step in share some plain and precious truths! (One dilemma you’ll have to face is the question of whether you should go up early in order to be assured that you’ll have plenty of time, or go up later after you’ve heard more specific false doctrines that need to be corrected. The risk of going up later, of course, is that you’ll get stuck behind a particularly long-winded local member, or an endless stream of primary kids. A good rule of thumb is to jump up when you first hear a doctrine so false that the Spirit chooses to be offended, or when 20 minutes remain, whichever comes first.)
  • If it’s not fast Sunday, while still in ward council, offer to give concluding remarks in sacrament meeting. Even if the bishop turns you down, don’t hesitate to rush the pulpit after the last speaker finishes. It may surprise you how many bishops will back down in a game of church chicken when faced with someone bearing down in pure testimony.
  • If it’s stake conference, and there is no ward council or sacrament meeting, you have clearly marked yourself as a covenant breaker who will stop at nothing to get out of going to the three-hour block while on vacation! The only hope for saving your soul is to have attended the adult session on Saturday night, but even then, you’re perilously close to apostasy!
  • As a covenant keeper, you must keep in mind that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto God, because members of the ward you’re visiting have probably forgotten. If the hymn is played too slowly, try to get the organist and conductor to speed up by singing as loudly and as fast as you can. If the organist flubs a note, go up to the stand and offer to take their place. If the conductor misses a beat, simply go to the stand and conduct while standing off to one side. The congregation is likely anxious for proper direction and will naturally follow you. Don’t hesitate to correct musical errors. Beautiful music is a sweet savor to the Lord, but botched music is a stink. (Pay no attention to anyone who claims, “To me, it doth not stink.”)
  • In second and third hour classes, offer to teach. If your offer is accepted, take the opportunity to correct any false doctrine that you didn’t get to in sacrament meeting, as well as any other deficiencies you may have noticed (e.g., a prayer that fails to include either thanking or asking the Lord for moisture [or both]).
  • If the class you are visiting is on the same lesson as your home ward’s class, loudly thank the Lord for Correlation, and how it makes the Church the same everywhere. If the class is behind, sigh audibly and wonder aloud at what other things they might be behind on, like news of the Second Coming. If the class is ahead, make a comment about all things being done in the Lord’s due time, and the perils of looking beyond the mark.
  • If your offer to teach is not accepted, make as many comments as possible. Preface your comments by pointing out that a prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, but that by rejecting you as a teacher, the class is the exception that proves the rule. Also be sure to compare the class members to the five foolish virgins who have taken no oil for their lamps. Mention that it just so happens that you have a cruse of oil that never fails.
  • Don’t let your participation in classes limit your activity in patrolling the halls so you can shoo people back to class. There is no good excuse for people to be in the halls, not even children! Remember that faith precedes the miracle of the child’s bladder holding through all three hours of church.
  • If you are vacationing with children, when you take them to primary, pull their teachers and primary presidencies aside and ask to see their lesson plans. If the plans are not doctrinally sound, warn your children while within the hearing of the teachers of the dangers of people who will not endure sound doctrine and have heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears. Remind them that if they hear false teachings, they should hum a hymn.
  • As a true covenant keeper, you must be sure to attend any post-block meetings such as firesides. If no fireside is scheduled, offer to give one yourself, using the movie “Johnny Lingo.” Don’t forget to first chastise ward leaders for their faithlessness in not scheduling a fireside on their own and suggest that they are married to one-cow wives.

By following this simple counsel, you can truly be seen of men as a covenant keeper when vacationing on Sunday, and it will be your privilege to thank God that you are not as other men (who are, for example, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or church skippers).



  1. I’m not opposed to attending church while on vacation — I’ve actually had some really fun experiences doing it — but I did think that Deseret News article was a bit extreme. “Botched music is a stink.” – Ha!

  2. The Desert News missed the Elder Hamilton’s point by miles. He clearly said that (paraphrased here because I can’t access the exact quote) “we enjoy attending *our* meetings” can only mean that his family attends the meetings of their assigned ward. It must be assumed that they are doing so via Skype or VTC, though he didn’t say so outright.

    If you are living in one of the those backwards wards that isn’t yet making meetings available online, it may be acceptable to attend all of local meetings at the location you are visiting, but in this case clearly you should attend all of the meetings at that building. Don’t be one of those slothful servants that only attends one three hour block. Remember to stay for the next ward and attend mutual and primary activities.

  3. I think you are missing the mark a bit here and asking a bit too much. I don’t find that I have to do all the things you list I just have to more of them then the next most righteous family in my ward. That is enough to keep me the top covenant keeper. Sadly, my ward is pretty lazy and so I can get away with doing only a few things on your list and still have some margin for error. Recently, however, a new family – the Packards – moved into the stake and they are really motivating us to stay alert to our top covenant keeper status. Why just last week I heard from a friend that Brother Packard was on a business trip and found the EQP of the ward he was visiting and volunteered to home teach all the members that hadn’t been seen yet that month after church and through the evening. I am sooooo thankful to the Packards for reminding me what it means to be a *true* covenant keeper and I can’t wait for our next family trip so we can show the stake (and God) who the most devout members of Pineyville really are!

  4. While on vacation to Orlando last summer, I went to High Council and excommunicated a dude.

    THAT’S Covenant Keeping, you slackers.

  5. Stephen Marsh–oops! I was intending the first two items to occur on Saturday. I’ve fixed the first one to reflect that. Thanks for catching it.


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