The Mormon Church teaches that certain ordinances must be performed if believers want to return to God. These ordinances are as follows: baptism by immersion; a laying on of hands to receive the Holy Ghost; marriage performed by a member of the priesthood, and an Endowment ceremony.
Of these, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost (called a “Confirmation), can take place outside the temple. Although there are specific baptismal fonts in many of the church buildings, baptisms can take place in almost any body of water, as long as it is deep enough to allow complete immersion. Shortly after the baptism, the Confirmation takes place. Marriages and the Endowment ceremony are performed in temples. Male members of the church who holds the priesthood perform all of the ordinances for those receiving them.
Baptism: The first of the saving ordinances is baptism. It is performed when a child turns eight, and in the case of a convert, when they are ready to join the church. Mormons believe in baptism by total immersion. Priesthood holders, who are male, must perform the baptisms. After someone is baptized, they are officially members of the church.
The priesthood holder enters the water with the person to be baptized, then recites specific words common to every baptism. He calls the candidate by name, there is mention that the ordinance is done by the authority of the priesthood, and it is done in the name of the members of the Godhead. Then the candidate is briefly immersed in the water.
Confirmation: After a person is baptized, they are ready to receive the Holy Ghost through confirmation. The church teaches that people can receive guidance, strength and inspiration from the Holy Ghost. By being ‘confirmed’, members have the blessing of constant help from the Holy Ghost, rather than occasional inspiration afforded to everyone.
The church believes that the Holy Ghost is a third, distinct member of the Godhead (See Godhead), whose purpose is to help people to know that God and Jesus live, and to point them to truth through inspiration. Mormons teach that the Holy Ghost can guide people by the feelings they get as they study and pray.
There is only one person who speaks during a confirmation, but there can be many involved. All must be priesthood holders. The men form a circle around the confirmation candidate and place their right hand on his or her head, and their left hand on the right shoulder of the man next to him. The person speaking calls the candidate by name, identifies that the confirmation is accomplished through the power of the priesthood, and tells them to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The speaker may then offer blessings as desired, in prayer form. He then closes in the name of Jesus Christ.
Endowment: The Endowment ceremony can only take place in the temple. The ceremony is to teach members about the Lord’s plan of salvation, and to make covenants with God. The first time a member goes through it is for his or her own benefit. In subsequent visits, members receive the Endowment on behalf of deceased individuals (See Ordinance Work for the Dead).
It begins with a ceremonial washing and anointing, and dressing in the temple garments. Then the member enters a room where the endowment ceremony will begin. The Endowment session is a presentation about the creation of the world, and Adam and Eve’s experiences in the world. It is a basic overview of the LDS plan of salvation. Members learn about the plan, and make covenants to be obedient, chaste, loyal and charitable. Some of the Endowment session is sacred in nature and members are prohibited from discussing them outside of the temple.
Marriage: Unlike traditional religious marriages, those performed in the temple are said to be “for time and all eternity”. The marriage takes place in special rooms in the temples called Sealing Rooms. Couples kneel across the alter from each other and hold hands while the priesthood holder Performing the ceremony recites a common vow. Since the marriage takes place in the temple, only temple recommend holders (members of the LDS church in good standing) can attend. Non-members and members without a temple recommend must wait outside the temple.
Latter-day Saints also practice many other, “non-saving” ordinances, such as blessings, dedications, and the sacrament (see Other Beliefs: Sacrament).
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