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Jerry Earl Johnston: Fewer Sunday meetings? Why, I remember ...

Anytime there are changes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can count on members long-in-the-tooth — like me — to tell you how things used to be.

“You’ve got it easy,” we say. “Why I remember …" and off we go with tales about walking five miles in a blizzard to attend Mutual.

So it is with the change from the current three-hour block to a two-hour schedule.

We elderly elders, of course, can recall the days of the “busted block,” two hours in the morning and another hour-and-a-half in the afternoon for sacrament meeting.

And those 90-minute sacrament meetings, you whippersnappers, were held without air conditioning. And on summer afternoons those old, brick chapels quickly turned into adobe kilns, where inspiration and perspiration mingled freely.

Funeral homes tried to help by passing out little cardboard fans. Why funeral homes, you ask? Because if some 90-year-old sister went down for the count from the heat, the mortuary wanted its name to be the last thing she saw. With her last gasp she’d say “Call Felt Mortuary.”

For the most part, of course, we did what members of the church have been doing for almost 140 years. We adjusted. Like those famous frogs in the pot that's slowly brought to a boil, we’d adapt and act fat, dumb and happy until we were fricasseed, until we were “ready to serve,” in a pot roast kind of way.

Some weeks, as the meeting wound down, the setting sun would hit the west windows and create a glare like a band of ministering angels. Squints and headaches abounded. Some bishops would allow members to don sunglasses, but not ours. Bishop Ed Anderson, an old farm boy, believed suffering brought forth the blessings of heaven. So we’d all sit there, roasting and suffering, while speakers warned us away from hell, where — if we weren't careful — we’d be made to roast and suffer.

A few weeks ago, in our Brigham City ward, the electricity went out and all the Sunday meetings were canceled. One concern was the lack of air conditioning would be a hardship for the kids in the nursery and the oldsters with health problems.

Canceling meetings was the right thing to do.

Still, as my wife and I quietly sat around the house, I had to wonder if some St. George member from the 1950s, where Sunday meetings could hit 115 degrees, wasn’t looking down at us and playing the world’s smallest violin.