One incredible thing about being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that no matter where you go in the world, you can expect to find a ward or branch of fellow believers worshiping in a familiar way. All across the world Saints gather for a three-hour block, partake of the sacrament, teach and bear testimony to each other, and follow the same lesson manuals in a variety of languages. Ordinances are conducted by the same authority and manner in the Philippines as they are in France.
This consistency is not only amazing considering the size of the Church and the variety of cultures it encompasses, but it also testifies to the truth of the gospel. After all, we believe there is "One Lord, one faith, one baptism," (Ephesians 4:5).
Within the doctrines of the gospel and the policies outlined by the Church, however, it is also incredible that there is room for cultures and families to express their faith and worship in unique ways. Here are just a few examples of unique LDS traditions that can be found around the world.
*Note: Information for this article has been gathered from individuals' personal experiences living abroad or visiting LDS congregations across the world.
When the Sabbath Isn't a Sunday
Although most of us are used to worshipping the Sabbath day on Sunday, this isn't possible in some parts of the world, and some Saints honor their one-day-in-seven on a different day of the week.
In Dubai and other areas of the Middle East, Latter-day Saints meet for church on Friday, as Friday is regarded the Holy Day in Islamic culture. For similar reasons, sacrament meeting is held on Saturday in Israel.
The stake center in Abu Dhabi. Image from lds.org.
In Hong Kong, there is no consistent day that everyone can pause for the Sabbath due to strict, overlapping six-day work schedules. To accommodate, the Church holds sacrament meeting on every day of the week.
In Alaska, severe weather conditions and distance cause the Anchorage Bush Branch to hold church meetings over the phone. Members mute and unmute themselves to participate in talks and lessons, and they partake of the sacrament in their own homes.
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Kisses and Simple Gestures
Many of us were taught to fold our arms to pray or show reverence, but not so in Poland. Polish Latter-day Saints never fold their arms because its a sign of being upset. They also don't shake hands over a doorway because it makes a cross.
In Spain, members greet every other member in the chapel with two kisses to show friendship and fellowship before church begins.
Sister Jean B. Bingham greeting members in Spain. Image from Mormon Newsroom.
In the Philippines, older women in the congregation will greet you by taking your hand in theirs and pressing it to your forehead as a sign of respect.
Priests who pass the sacrament in South Korea always hold their right forearm with their left hand while distributing the bread and water. In Korean culture, you must always use two hands when giving or receiving something.