For the first time, the LDS Church will broadcast sacrament meetings to a national audience.
The weekly half-hour program, titled "A Worship Service of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," will premiere Sunday at 10:30 a.m. MDT on the Vision Interfaith Satellite Network."Worship Service" is just that - a relatively normal, although abbreviated, sacrament meeting.
The program opens with a short explanation of LDS services and a brief look at the passing of the sacrament. Then it's on to a pair of talks and several musical interludes.
"Those who tune in will see that this is a participatory church," said producer Margaret Smoot. "Everyone is involved, from young children to adults. And not just as students or as members of the congregation. Teenagers and adults are asked to teach and sing and testify during Mormon worship services."
As a matter of fact, one of the two speakers on the first show is a 12-year-old girl.
The producers decided to just turn on the cameras and film the meeting as-is - they don't go back and reshoot scenes to give them a more polished look.
"We really don't want a slick production," said Bruce Olsen, executive producer of the show. "We want it to be real, and this is about as real as we can make it, especially when you consider we're trying to fit three hours of meetings into a half-hour time slot."
The show is filmed in a real chapel - the gorgeous old Millcreek Chapel at 602 E. 3900 South - with a real bishop presiding, Stephen D. Nadauld, the former president of Weber State College. The speakers, congregation and choir are drawn from church members from across the Salt Lake valley.
The programs are taped two or three at a time on Saturdays at the Millcreek Chapel.
VISN, a national cable channel devoted entirely to religious programming, can be seen on most local cable systems. The show will be repeated Mondays at 6 a.m., Wednesdays at 1:30 a.m. and Fridays at 11 a.m.