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Canadian Mormons Follow Counsel to Better Observe Sabbath Day

This is the first in a four-part series addressing more purposeful Sabbath day observance.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have recently called for better observance of the Sabbath day. Canadian members of the Church have taken this counsel to heart and are experiencing not only strengthened faith in God and Jesus Christ but also strengthened family ties and renewed stamina.

Church leaders are asking members to think of the Sabbath differently. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently expressed his experience of seeing the Sabbath in a different light: “I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’” (“The Sabbath Is a Delight,” April 2015 general conference).

“As other commandments of God can do, Sabbath day observance allows us to show what is in our heart.  What a privilege, as an indication of our relationship with Him, to be able to return a sign to our Father in Heaven,” states Elder Alain L. Allard, the North America Northeast Area representative for the Church. Elder Allard continues, quoting 1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

Mormons across Canada are finding many proactive ways to spend their Sabbath hours as a positive sign to God. These ways include attending church, visiting relatives, studying Church history, preparing lessons, serving others, going for walks, writing letters and so forth.

“When we consider [the Sabbath] is [the Saviour’s] day,” says Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, general president of the Primary, “then what we do is in connection to Him and for Him. But that doesn't mean we can't load our children in our cars and go visit grandparents or family or relatives. It doesn't mean that we can't take time to laugh together” (“Church Leaders Call for Better Observance of Sabbath Day,” mormonnewsroom.org).

Lianne Racioppo, a Church member in Toronto, Ontario, agrees with this sentiment and says she has found visiting the elderly on the Sabbath can be “rewarding, uplifting and fun for everyone.”

Working on family and personal histories is another way Church members enjoy the Sabbath. Bob Steen of Charlottetown, PEI, spends his Sabbath compiling genealogy records into books as Christmas gifts for each of his siblings. His wife, Pat, enjoys writing in her journal after church on Sundays.

Brent and Rachelle Shipley of Cardston, Alberta, and their children enjoy studying scriptures as a family on Sundays. The Sulz family of St. Albert, Alberta, enjoy having the missionaries over for Sunday dinner.

“God gave us this special day,” continues President Nelson, “not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief. I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal.”

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