Wright Words: Why do we sit on the back pew when there are plenty of open seats at the front?

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  • Sore loser tampa, fl
    June 8, 2014 9:59 a.m.

    An equally riveting question might be "why do I attend Sacrament Mtg" or "when should I pant myself in my seat". My guess is that many respondents will suggest that 20 minutes late shows proper humility.

  • Rarified Commentator Martinez, CA
    June 6, 2014 5:50 p.m.

    This is the most ridiculous article... honestly, if the location where we park our bodies for this relatively brief meeting really mattered Ward Clerks would not count those attendees sitting in the rear of the chapel, or in the foyer for that matter, when performing the "official" count for the official church records. Commitment to the Gospel is a uniquely personal thing and one can never judge another by identifying where they sit in the chapel or where they park in the lot or where they choose to shop for groceries, etc. etc. The author should not share the misbegotten judgements of others as though they were guideposts to spirituality.

  • TwistedNerve Ontario, CA
    June 4, 2014 4:39 p.m.

    "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican... And the publican, standing AFAR OFF, would not lift so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." Luke 18:10,11,13

    Jesus seems to think that worshipping from "afar off" is an acceptable sign of humility, pleasing to our Heavenly Father. The reasons for sitting in the back row may be diverse and manifold, but humility is not the least of them. And not the least likely, either.

  • baddog Cedar Rapids, IA
    June 3, 2014 3:12 p.m.

    I wondered why last Sunday someone in high priest class said we must sit on the front row. Since there were only two rows, I was just one away from meeting that request.

    As for sacrament meeting, we sit where we can. And, I've not heard anyone castigated for where they sat in a temple session.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    June 2, 2014 12:47 p.m.

    Some people love to be seen showing their pious devotion...and what better place than the front row?

    "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men."

  • Gram Cracker Price, UT
    June 2, 2014 11:55 a.m.

    I always prefer the back seats, and apparently some others do too. I simply feel more comfortable there. Don't know why. Nothing sinister going on that I can see.

    What makes me crazy is when others decide where I SHOULD sit.

    A certain Relief Society teacher would always go to the class room early and put all the chairs in a circle. She didn't like when people sat in the back.

    Well, the circle didn't work for most of us. People were self conscious. People didn't know where to look. If you looked at those opposite you in the circle, they felt awkward. It wasn't good. So we usually all just looked at the floor.

    When Relief Society used the chapel for programs or special meetings, a certain President would go early and "ribbon off" the back pews, thus forcing everyone to the front where SHE wanted them to sit. Some of the back row sitters just removed the ribbon and sat where they felt most comfortable.

    Please don't tell adults where they OUGHT to sit. We sit where we feel comfortable.

  • Mrs. Plasticman Salt Lake City, UT
    June 2, 2014 12:20 a.m.

    I think this is silly conjecture. Its really just personal preference and comfort in personal space. Sitting on the front row you cant really see the speaker, its like sitting in the front row at the movie theater you have to crane your neck. We sit about the same in both church and the movie theater, to the side and 3/4 way to the back. My far sighted husband and children have an easier time seeing at that distance. Spirituality is NOT determined by nor measured by your location in the chapel. Your friend is just wrong.

  • gratefulmouse san angelo, tx
    June 1, 2014 9:53 p.m.

    In reading the other comments...I was suprized to see that I wasnt the only negative commenter. I didnt mean to be but it is just something that sort of rubbed me the wrong way...I trust in God and the Savior to know my heart and why I sit at the back or sit in the middle or in the front. As I stated I have bathroom issues as Im older and so need to sit at the back. Before doing this...I was always as I stated in the middle as I hate the front ...its too close and makes me nervous..I dont do it at the movies either..I sit at the back as well...maybe its my eyes..I bring my heart to church...and no matter where I sit..Im engulfed in the gospel and am not worrying over where I sit. ok one more comment..I have noticed in all seats...people getting on their electronic equipment and playing games...wow...to me that means they are not really there...in heart or spirit...but I still cant judge that person its not my job....

  • Jack Aurora, CO
    June 1, 2014 7:37 p.m.

    Let me speak the comment about the "hard of hearing". I lost hearing in combat, so I must have a hearing aid. A VA furnished hearing aid. It has the microphones in the back, behind my ear. If we sit up front, then the children and those who can't stop talking are louder than the speaker. If the speaker doesn't speak into the microphone on the stand, I cannot understand them. I cannot just turn my aid up or down, it requires a reprogram. So, when I complain that I cannot hear, it is not out of anything other than the truth. My hearing loss is my disability, just like those with a cane or a chair or something else. Do you poke fun at them? Maybe tell them to put down the cane and walk straight? Or do you tell the person in a chair to stand up and stop needing the chair?

    I sit near the back so I don't have the noise behind me, so I can hear what little I can.

  • Who needs it? WX, UT
    June 1, 2014 5:41 p.m.

    AMEN....I agree with you completely!

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2014 5:21 p.m.

    Usually, the back rows at my chapel are the padded individual chairs. Much more comfortable than the pews, and less claustophobic in general.

  • Jary Phoenix, AZ
    June 1, 2014 4:43 p.m.

    How interestingly quick many came to criticize what the author was sharing, at least in part, as some self analysis in his own worship. My life of worship has found me in many different places in the chapel, including the back row, the side against the wall, the middle and the front. While I have no doubt that the most important is that we are sitting in church and not where we have placed ourselves, there should be little question that placement in settings where learning takes place does matter. There have be many a class or course or professional seminar that I have taken throughout my life that began with an encouragement from the presenter to move forward for maximum effect. But I would ask the question, if not already posed by an earlier comment, if it does not matter where we sit, then why do we choose to sit in the back? What is it about the back row that makes learning more likely than the front? Owing for the obvious exceptions that demand such choice, why are the back so much quicker to fill than the front?

  • jkcook Petersaurach, Germany
    June 1, 2014 2:47 p.m.

    As a teacher in public schools and the church, I find it is generally the folks in the first few rows that pay attention and participate. As a parent and for myself, the further back we sat or I sit, the more distractions and noise there are and the more difficult it is to pay close attention.

  • thornfield Ames, IA
    June 1, 2014 2:08 p.m.

    We should just be glad that people come to church to worship rather than read something into their choice of seating location. When our children were small, we sat near the back so we could make a quick exit if a little one became fussy. Now we sit on the back row to accomodate the long legs of our two, very tall sons.

  • Sore loser tampa, fl
    June 1, 2014 2:03 p.m.


    I would argue that the head of the table is the stand where the leaders sit rather than the 1st rows of the chapel.

  • Elizabeth G Vancouver, WA
    June 1, 2014 12:35 p.m.

    I thought the article was cute and funny.

    I also think it doesn't matter where you sit, but notice the same trend that back is overflowing and the front is nearly empty.

    My rule with my children is any middle row. As Dr. Coach points out there is a lot of "leg room" in the front and back rows. The one time I sat in the very front row my 2 yr. old tried to claim the whole space to herself. I told my husband never again, she needs the other pew there to distinguish boundaries. However, now that she's 7 and understands proper behavior for church and demonstrates it well to her 3 y.o. sister, the front was the last space open recently and they sat there with us nicely. Maybe, we can attempt to be front row to make more room in the back for the new babies, the elderly, and those on-call.

  • benjjamin Beaverton, OR
    June 1, 2014 10:18 a.m.


    While that might be a general rule, it ought not be applied without regard for individual needs. There are a whole lot of people who are on the other side of the coin. They don't thrive on people reaching out with handshakes, hugs and words. Maybe they suffer from a social anxiety disorder, or maybe they are deeply introverted. Greeters will serve the needs of those who need to be greeted, but they will inadvertently push away those who have a need TO NOT be greeted.

    I know it can be a difficult paradigm to grasp. To think that there are actually people who have a deep need to not be "socialized" and "greeted" and the like. But they exist. They have strong testimonies. They desire to serve. They just go about it in a different way.

    Christ focused on the individual. He didn't always apply the same method to each. Some people need to be greeted. Others need to NOT be greeted.

    Greeters, where we sit, whether we have stubble or are clean shaven - these are all traditions. Doctrine matters. People change from the inside out, not from the outside in.

  • riverofsun St.George, Utah
    June 1, 2014 9:44 a.m.

    Not everyone craves attention and ardor.
    Is this why people feel they must sit in the front row?
    So everyone "behind" notices them?
    Some folks are just content to be there, even in the "dreadful" back row seats.

  • Jacob_Z Brigham City, UT
    June 1, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    I understand that many wards have solved this problem simply by removing the back row.

  • Rancho63 Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 1, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    I sat on the stand for over 30 years. I enjoyed being able to look people in the eyes; see who I needed to respond to. After my callings no longer required me to be on the stand, I found that by sitting on the back row I could still see the congregation and who I needed to interact with for my current calling, or who wasn't there that might need a friendly call and a hello. It is all about perspective. Sitting on the back row is not a hiding place unless you are on the floor. In Sunday School and Priesthood I like to sit where I can see who is responding to questions. It is all a matter of personal perspective. I have never felt less responsive, less involved, or less susceptible to the Spirit based upon where I sit.

    June 1, 2014 9:12 a.m.

    "If sitting in the front row was a requirement to get into Heaven it would be big enough for everyone."

    Now go away with your judgmental piece about where we sit at church. I can pay attention just fine in the front, middle or back. It articles like this that make some people feel guilty or like they are not doing enough because they now don't sit in the right place.

    Hey here is a thought - why don't we leave those spaces for those that can't hear as well, or see as well or just like the front.

    Why don't we worry more about how we treat each other day inane day out rather than where we sit.

    Sit where you want - but please just feel free to sit and appreciate. Its about being there not where you park yourself.

  • sally Kearns, UT
    June 1, 2014 8:55 a.m.

    It does matter where you sit. We have lived in many wards all over the U.S. We usually find a place in the back the first time so we don't steal someone else s reserved seat. People have a tendency to sit in the same spot every week. Even at Stake Conference this happens. We had an older couple inform us we were in their spot. They had been sitting in it for 50 years. Wow, did we get a blessing that day. Sitting in the back or in the front doesn't matter as much as stealing an already claimed row.

  • hockeymom Highland, UT
    June 1, 2014 8:54 a.m.

    If front row sitting is a measure of one's righteousness, then just by looking at the percentages, only about 5% of the people in any given ward have the honor of being considered "righteous"! There are only so many front rows to go around. Are the 2nd, 3rd, 4th row sitters less righteous?

    One thing I think should be addressed is the attitude of "our family's pew". It makes it hard for visitors to find a seat when they are being held by bags and books, and makes newcomers feel less welcome.

    I once went to a Relief Society function with my daughter and made 3 attempts at 3 different tables to sit with other women who were "saving" those two seats for others not yet there. I never felt so unloved or un-welcomed, though I am perfectly active and will remain so. Who was saving my seat and who's daughters were squealing when my daughter walked in? ALL seats should be open to ALL people, ALL the time! (Unless marked handicapped)

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    June 1, 2014 8:46 a.m.

    Check out Luke 14:10. It is presumptuous to sit on the front row. Sit on the back row until you are invited to move up.

  • benjjamin Beaverton, OR
    June 1, 2014 8:46 a.m.


    Mothers and Elderly (plus the sick and infirm). Problem is that you can't always tell who is sick by their appearance. I know of mental illness where the ONLY seats are either the foyer, or the very back/side seats. The mentally ill often look normal enough. You would't know of there illness just by looking at them. And they need to sit where they sit.

    Also, I don't come to sacrament meeting out of excitement for the talks. I come to partake of the sacrament. I sit wherever I am most able to focus on that. For me, that is not the front. Honestly, the only seat in the house where I personally feel most focused on the atonement is in the foyer. The talks are and always should be secondary in purpose to the sacrament.

    I'm no doctrinal expert, but I wouldn't be the least be disappointed if sacrament meeting became solely about the sacrament in the future. A time to sit in peace and quiet and listen to sacred music to prepare. Then, to partake of the sacrament. Then, to leave the meeting. A guy can wish.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    June 1, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    "Why do we sit on the back pew when there are plenty of open seats at the front?'

    Leg room. And it makes me nervous to have so many members where I can't keep an eye on them.

  • andrejules Midway, UT
    June 1, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    We had a Bishop in the old Manavu Ward (Provo, Utah)address this issue by only putting cushions on the first five rows of pews. It worked. Can't do that anymore when most of the chapels have all their Chapel seats cushioned. Here in Midway, Utah, due to high attendance most Sundays,we have to add folding chairs all the way back to the stage. They get mostly filled every Sunday while seats are empty in the chapel area. That's 300 in the gym and, maybe 200 in the chapel. I am intrigued by the fact that so many commenters try to justify their coming in late and sitting in back. I am so happy our Bishop insists on the meeting starting on time every Sunday.
    We love our LDS brothers and sisters, but we do wish they would come on time.

  • gittalopctbi Glendale, AZ
    June 1, 2014 8:23 a.m.

    I'm surprised at how many took offense to his article. He made the disclaimer at the beginning of the article about those with various needs. I feel that his article was not one of making outward judgments, but the point was to cause the reader to make inward assessments. To me, several who took umbrage to this article missed that point.

    As a teacher in public education and as a teacher/leader in the church, All teachers have experienced classes where everyone is "in the back." I have even stepped up three or more rows to teach so that there were no empty front rows, so to speak. I agree that culturally, there is this stigma and not just in the church. Curiously, very young children want to sit in the front.

    For those who got offended about being judged, I'm sure if you think about it, you'll admit that probably no one judges anyone in church about where they sit. I don't think anyone really cares or takes a second thought. But you have to admit, it is pretty silly when the Gospel Doctrine class is all sitting in the back half of the chapel.

  • caljimw Orem, UT
    June 1, 2014 8:21 a.m.

    Was Mr. Wright not simply saying that the friend's comment gave him reason to consider if some change might be appropriate? It seems a good thing to take a look at a habit, to determine if a small change might result in one becoming a little better person.

  • UT Brit London, England
    June 1, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    I doubt Jesus cares about which row you sit on. Neither should anyone else.

  • wisetimes Phoenix, AZ
    June 1, 2014 7:53 a.m.

    I used to prefer sitting up front, as a college professor knowing the difference it actually can make for that PERSON. Not for the image to project "holier than thou" presence. But I can't judge and there is no reason to judge! Besides, everyone can't sit up front, but I wonder what the trend for selecting the back, and/or not singing is all about.
    I'll have to write an article on the comparison of the majestic Tabernacle Choir vs. the lull in chapel song. Maybe members are more considerate than me and spare others off tune noises.
    I took the article to mean that we do well by checking our personal spiritual behaviors, motivations,etc even from the front seat. If I could share, or convince, members of one thing it would be to guard their testimonies. "Is it I Lord"? Forget the judgment of others, or self...just increase awareness that even the strongest can have testimony fade away with a continual pressures and focus of the world. Sit where you want, but sit like you mean it, sing like you feel it, welcome all to the spiritual refreshment of sacrament.

  • BYU-Virginia Mesa, AZ
    June 1, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    Being a fearful speaker, I grew up in a ward where the bishop always called on 2 or 3 members to bear their testimonies every Sunday sometime during the meeting. We would hide out back on the side, and hope his searching eyes didn't locate us. Nothing against impromptu testimonies, one should always have theirs at the ready, but my self-consciousness has always had the best of me.

    I also had a bishop once urge everyone to fill the celestial rows first, meaning the first 3 rows.

    And I'm aware of the late-comers who have their arrival timed pretty close, the seat-savers, and the designated seating.. The purpose of the meeting is to partake of the Sacrament, and the deacons seem to find everyone, no matter where they seat..even those who prefer the foyer or cry rooms.

    One building we attended had a glassed-in balcony cry room..you got it..packed every Sunday!

  • From Ted's Head Orem, UT
    June 1, 2014 7:02 a.m.

    The ward we have been in for the past almost 20 years is large enough that at least 50 people sit on folding chairs in the cultural hall, my family included. We started the practice when we had young children and have continued it out of habit. We usually take the very back row of chairs and figure whatever spirituality points we lose for not being up with the celestial members in the first rows we make up with sacrifice points for sitting on the hard metal telestial chairs. The odd thing is that most of my immediate neighbors also sit in the cultural hall, which to my mind suggests other than spirituality dictates seating. I'm 6'3" and a large fella who likes my legroom and while I could take a pew or padded chair closer to the front, I recognize that the elderly and infirmed need those seats more than I do.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    June 1, 2014 7:01 a.m.

    The back row is closer to the door if I want to sneak out.
    The EQP can't see me and ask me if I've done my home teaching.
    I don't have a 2 year old sticking fruit loops in my hair from the seat behind me.
    It affords me the opportunity to get to my next classroom and get a good back row seat there too.
    Pretty simple to me.

  • Sore loser tampa, fl
    June 1, 2014 4:52 a.m.

    The comments to this article are another manifestation of how people kind of conjure up their own form of worship. There is a protocol for Church attendance outlined by Pres. Kimball in the manual Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W Kimball chapters 15 and 16.

  • bigirish OREM, UT
    June 1, 2014 2:56 a.m.

    I'm a big guy and sit tall in the saddle, so am very self-conscious about sitting in front of smaller people and blocking their view. That's my main reason for being a "back row kind of guy". But I am interested in the way people choose their seating and sit there almost every Sunday. I think we should move around each week so we sit by different people and not get into some kind of weird "this is MY pew" thinking. My wife can't sit too close because it hurts her neck, especially sitting in the side seats where you have to sit turned the whole meeting. I do like the leg room of the back row too. Our new ward chapel has pews that are not comfortable to me - too high, too close to the pew in front so it's virtually impossible for someone to walk past to get an inside seat, too hard and the back too straight. I'd like to talk to those designers! I'm a senior and feel comfort is important to concentration. So we sit in the hard folding chairs sometimes just to get away from the pews.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2014 2:03 a.m.

    "I believe that we should allow our investigators to sit in the front rows as a sign of respect."

    I agree with the rest of your suggestions (though I think the wards I went to didn't have much of an issue with lack of greeters) but for this one I think it depends on the investigator. I'm shy enough that I wouldn't have wanted that sort of real (or at least perceived) added attention when I was an investigator.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2014 1:56 a.m.

    Heh, I don't think it's an LDS culture thing. At graduate seminar there's a massive skew towards the back for graduate students (though to me personally it's like a movie theatre, being too far forward requires more neck craning to see the presentation). When I grew up in the Methodist church the pastor once told everyone to move up a few rows, since it was pretty egregious that week (nobody at all in the first three rows). Might be one of the things almost everyone has in common.

  • gratefulmouse san angelo, tx
    May 31, 2014 9:14 p.m.

    ok...Im one who always sits at the back....now...that is....before I always sat in the middle with my kids. but not too long ago..I realized I better sit in back...why you ask?? the rest room....oh Im an adult..but with a severe IBS problem and when I had my first baby ..something was cut and never repaired so I have to RUN...now ...when you see some people at back..you might also want to wonder if they have to make it to the bathroom in a hurry...add that one to the list...judging people isnt a good idea...even in jest its still judging..its not our job to judge..is it...so walk in my shoes...and then you will know why some people sit at the back....thank you

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    May 31, 2014 7:53 p.m.

    @ Aspen

    "Articles like this just give judgmental people more reason to do what they do best. Why go looking for more reasons to find fault and pick people apart. Why can't we just be happy that people show up for church? What does it matter where they sit?"

    I just re-read the article just to respond to your comment.

    The article is presented more as an observation more than a critique.

    Why go looking for more reasons to find fault?....I guess that is one way to look at it...other comments have thoroughly covered already this point.

    Another way to look at it would be a simple suggestion on how to improve your own church experience. He didn't say his friend took him out in the hall and gave him a 10 minute rebuke or something.

    Hebrews 12:6 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth".

  • DrGroovey Salt Lake City, UT
    May 31, 2014 6:51 p.m.

    This whole article is extremely judgmental. What all the discussion of the reasons people sit where they do? Why does anyone care where someone else is sitting? It is no one's business why or where we sit. We should all be glad that each other is there. This is the type of article that makes Mormons look weird to the rest of the world. I really don't think Jesus cared where people sat during the sermon on the mount.

  • aspen Bellevue, WA
    May 31, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    Articles like this just give judgmental people more reason to do what they do best. Why go looking for more reasons to find fault and pick people apart. Why can't we just be happy that people show up for church? What does it matter where they sit?

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    May 31, 2014 1:13 p.m.

    I sit on the second row, but I've never even thought about or heard criticism for anyone sitting toward the back. (Maybe because I don't. LOL). But it seems like a non-issue to me. I like to sit at the front so I am less distracted and can hear and see better. Personal preference, but not something I've ever thought to be proud of.

  • ArmyMan61 USA, TX
    May 31, 2014 12:52 p.m.

    I believe that every ward needs to have greeters at the doors to welcome people who come to church, Too many wards that I have visited are cold and unfriendly especially if you are brand new. I believe that we should allow our investigators to sit in the front rows as a sign of respect. Greetings should also help people find vacant seats in the chapel and overflow areas. I also think that we have a terrible problem in the church with saving seats. I come early to stake and ward conferences and see many rows "saved" for those who will come in at the last moment in the meetings. We also need to spend more time welcoming and making everyone feel needed and wanted when they come into the chapel. I don't worry about those who sit in the last rows. I worry about those who are less active and don't feel welcomed and accepted into the wards. I wonder what Jesus will do when he visits so many cold and unfriendly wards in hs church! And ask us where are all of the less actives and investigators are? And where are the greeters?

  • RBA Fairview, UT
    May 31, 2014 11:38 a.m.

    Where you sit does have a bearing on your attitude and your relationship to the speaker or teacher. It doesn't even have to be at Church. I remember well my college days. The students who got A's sat to the front. They were engaged in the lecture, they asked questions and gave answers, and were more apt to raise their hands. In the Church, I'm reminded of a conference over which Elder Boyd K. Packer was presiding. At the Priesthood Leadership Session, all the Priesthood brethren were sitting in the back half of the chapel. President Packer asked the stake president to have everyone move to the front. No one moved. They were asked again. Still no one moved, at which point Elder Packer stood up and left the meeting.

  • sukiyhtaky us, CA
    May 31, 2014 11:15 a.m.

    I have to add my voice to the rest...does God really care where we sit? just so long as we show up? Besides, it has been my experience at least in the ward here in California, that the LDS stake out 'their spot' and they feel they have generational rights to it. If you sit there, they stand all flustered and panicked looking around like the judgement day has arrived and they have no place to sit. Finally you move lest they have an asthma attack or something and they settle into their spot trying to think Christian thoughts about the interloper. The LDS are second only to the Catholics in cultural guilt, is it really necessary to add one more thing onto the pile? The sound system is good, you can hear just as well from the back as from up front. Besides the front rows are for the uber-saints who want to be sure the bishop sees them especially when it is time to hand out choice callings.

  • grimalkin Sandy, Utah
    May 31, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    My husband likes the very back row. I would probably choose a few rows closer, but sit with him where he likes to be. Am I supposed to judge him for his preferred seat and think he is not committed enough? Or would it be better if I choose to think that The Lord is not a "respecter" of a person's seat placement?

    By the way I sat dead center, front row one time and my neck hurt so badly I vowed to never again do that. When I was little our pulpit was farther back and higher and to the side which worked a lot better for everyone's viewing the speaker.

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 31, 2014 9:05 a.m.

    Hit a nerve did we? I find that sitting up front has advantages: more room; with hearing aids I can hear better when I see the speaker talk; and we don't encroach on some one or families "regular seat".

    As to the sitting close to see a General Authority, why not treat every speaker with the same courtesy? That 15 year-old young lady or young man might appreciate a friendly face up front instead of treating them as if they had a communicable disease.

    Maybe the idea is to arrive a bit early to meet and greet in the foyer and then sit down and pause for a few minutes before the service begins. Might work better up front and avoid the traffic jam filling up the last few rows.

    As to those offended by the column, lighten up a little. We need to find the humor in our culture, heaven knows there is plenty of it to highlight.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 31, 2014 8:21 a.m.

    Interesting and entertaining.

    Not only do we sit in the back, but our "reserved" seats are on the first row of the overflow. I started doing that the first time I was Ward Mission Leader. We wanted those who we had invited to church to sit where they could soak up the Spirit without having the more pious members roll their eyes. That habit stayed with me during the other two times that I served as Ward Mission Leader. Now we sit in the same seats, needing only two instead of ten, but it makes it much easier to get in and out with my cane or walker.

    As far as I've noticed, that same wonderful Spirit fills the whole chapel, whether we sit in the back or whether we sit on the stand. When I speak or bear my testimony, I notice the same people in the congregation sitting up and listening, no matter where they sit.

    After thirty years in the same ward seeing births, deaths, sicknesses and trials, we have become more refined and mellow. It seems that the Lord still loves and welcomes us all.

  • timpClimber Provo, UT
    May 31, 2014 7:31 a.m.

    Ever notice the increase in users of electronic devices as you go from front to back during a meeting?

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    May 31, 2014 3:20 a.m.

    @ Dr. Coach

    I am sure the Eyrings sit all over not just the back row.

    Namely they are / have been in the spotlight or the stand 1000%+ more than most members.

  • Dr. Coach Bountiful, UT
    May 30, 2014 10:39 p.m.

    Back row people are the meek who will inherit the earth. There is no pretense on the back row. No striving for position. No power.

    We're simple folk who know the value of discretion. Do you really want that many ward members looking at the back of your head?

    Back rowers are humble. They're polite. Clean shaven. White shirt wearers. And they pick up the cheerios from the previous ward.

    Sitting on the back row allows perspective. We know who the back rubbers are. The head lowerers. And the small-bladdered ones who frequent the "water closet".

    Like any ecosystem, back rowers fill the niche between the moss phylum and the mushroom kingdom. Without the oxygenating back rowers the ward would be hurled into a global warming abyss, spewing CO2 emissions beyond EPA-allowed Sunday limits.

    And then there's the leg room thing. Who wouldn't want to sit on the last row where you get a whole aisle's worth more than a Delta executive? The back row is nothing if not first class accommodation on a business class budget.

    I say fly Mormon every Sunday!

  • Dr. Coach Bountiful, UT
    May 30, 2014 10:09 p.m.

    My mother suffers from Parkinson's disease and we've staked out the last row in the chapel--the one all by itself, set off from the rest of the pews with a wide aisle. Our seats are the ones on the far right side. Everyone in the ward knows NOT to take those. Members even leave their scriptures there to save the space when we're having a difficult time getting there.

    One Sunday we turn into the chapel and I see a man sitting in our place. And I'm thinking, "Who is this guy anyway? Doesn't he know he's sitting in our pew?"

    We step into the chapel from the foyer and realize that its President Eyring. Lucky for us, he gets up, shakes our hands, and then makes his way to the stand. And we get to sit next to his lovely wife.

    If the back row is good enough for sister Eyring, its good enough for anyone.

  • jarber Saratoga Springs, UT
    May 30, 2014 9:54 p.m.

    The statement of your friend about being a "back row kinda guy" is what makes people feel less than welcome. Why can't we just be glad to see a friend or loved one at church instead of passing judgement on where they sit? Maybe that type of judgmental atmosphere is why people don't want to sit near the front in the first place. Perhaps fixing that and making people feel less judged by their fellow congregants is what congregations should be focusing on.

  • Canadiandy Alberta, CA
    May 30, 2014 9:51 p.m.

    Brilliant! I have asked the same question for years. If it was a concert or play we would pay extra for front row. And as one comment stated, if an Apostle is coming we send a friend early to reserve a seat as close to the front as possible.

    True, God does not care where we sit. And true it is respectful that mothers with young children or the elderly find door seats more comfortable. The only other argument I buy is that the very front 2 pews can be obstructed by the pulpit of make it a neck strain to view the speaker and obstructs the view of the sacrament table or chorister. But I remember one Brother who always sat third row and center because it helped him attend better to the talks.

    I suggest;

    Forward pews first to leave rear pews available for mothers and elderly.
    Move to the center to help the Deacons pass and to open up seats as needed.
    Reserve pews at doors for ushers, latecomers, and even Elders so they can be visible to visitors.

    Not a matter of right and wrong, more a question of etiquette.

  • Shauna Huntington Beach, CA
    May 30, 2014 8:57 p.m.

    I sit on the back row, because I need to get up during the meeting, because of the pain sitting to long. To some people they might sit in back because they just don't care, but at least they made it to church. Now if he talked about people playing games on devices during church meetings that would be something to be concerned about maybe. I see this all the time by youth and adults, but to each their own. Let the Lord judge what others do and I'll worry about where I sit and what I'm doing during my Sunday meetings. We all have are reasons for sitting where we do and what we do.

  • greatbam22 andrews afb, MD
    May 30, 2014 7:47 p.m.

    It is funny how defensive and offended some people are getting from this article. It is probably because some people just don't want to change their ways.

    It is like : "I like the back row and I am going to keep sitting there!"

    What is your purpose in going to Sacrament meeting? Is it to people watch from the back row?

    I can tell you one thing that the closer I am to the front the easier it is to focus.

    Isn't that what we kind of going to church to do?

    I am all for change. I am all for sitting all over the place. I don't think I need to have a "assigned" seat. Obviously some people responding negatively to this authors article don't feel the same.

  • Westcoast Canadian Victoria, 00
    May 30, 2014 7:13 p.m.

    It makes sense for my family to sit in the back so we don't disrupt everyone by leaving mid-talk-testimony-baby blessing-musical number- etc. Back pew shaming needs to stop, heard it my whole life. Stop comparing possible spirituality to where one sits, what their dress/attire is like, facial hair, etc.. I understand the point of article, but the author giving a second thought and blog to the un-Christlike unwarranted comment by someone who was surprised by where he was sitting is a waste of time and space. The very idea that the author would think his friend said it without judgement shows how non-judgemental the author is, but for seating to be a blip on anyone's radar is worrisome. A good friend would say "Good to see you and your family here." and leave it at that. If there was lots of room perhaps a better comment and blog would be directed to why the pews weren't at capacity instead of who's on the back pew.

  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    May 30, 2014 4:32 p.m.

    Good Grief! Many people such as my husband and I sit in the "old folks, lame a little" back pew. We tried sitting up front so my husband could hear better - but the noise and antics, of families with young children, the constant taking crying babies out the full length of the chapel was just too distracting. One is glad it works for parents, but it seldom does for the elderly.

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    May 30, 2014 12:23 p.m.

    As long as you get a chance at taking the sacrament, what difference does it make ? Too much attention to making appearances to suite the expectations and judgements of others. Just do the right things.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    May 30, 2014 11:54 a.m.

    When my youngest was 5 we moved and my spouse, a lifelong front row person, decided it was time we made the switch.

    Our bishop laughed a lot during meetings at the antics of our youngest. I really think we should have stayed in the back a little longer. The front row did not make him behave better.

  • splitme2 West Jordan, UT
    May 30, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    I am a people watcher so I get to the chapel early, sit near the back and watch the families come in. I also find myself watching them throughout the meeting. I like to see how many names I can remember, adults and children. Just something I do.

  • LynnC. Calgary, 00
    May 30, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    Hmmm....very interesting. My husband and I made the conscientious decision to move to the VERY front row when our children were little. {2 toddlers and one baby.} We figured there would be less noise and distractions for them there. We struggled with the usual problems that come with small children, but determined we would stay there. It worked. They sat up and faced front and listened to the speaker. They {all 6} are grown up now. No matter where we go and visit.....they all head to that very front row. It worked for us! Thank you for this article. It brought back many memories. Glad we made that decision for us way back then. It wasn't always easy, but so glad we did it.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    May 30, 2014 10:29 a.m.

    Interestingly, if an apostle speaks, forget about even finding a seat within 100 feet of the podium. And that's if their not reserved.

  • truth in all its forms henderson, NV
    May 30, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    I don't think God cares where we sit in his church. He is more happy that we are there on Sunday! no need to make this more complicated than it is. We go to church to worship god not to show how righteous we are by where we are sitting. Remember its all about his righteous not our own!

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    May 30, 2014 10:10 a.m.

    In seriousness, though, I would chalk it up to a cultural norm that doesn't make a hill of beans worth of difference.

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    May 30, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    Because we are all habitually late and it's embarrassing to walk up to the front row after the meeting has already started. You know it's true. ;)

  • benjjamin Beaverton, OR
    May 30, 2014 9:15 a.m.

    I have no desire to criticize the author, or even his article. It was well written and he comes off as sincere.
    However, I sometimes wonder if this "back row" issue is a non-issue. It's like the tradition that was spoken of as if it is were doctrine. I've heard speakers basically call people to repentance because of their back-row sitting ways. Obviously, if you sit in the back row, you are a sinner needing repentance! The front-row sitters also need the atonement, as do the people sitting facing the opposite direction.

    Sitting in the front row is not akin to partaking of the Lord's sacrament. One shouldn't feel they aren't living the gospel of Jesus Christ simply because they sit in the back. Neither should a leader feel that the "more faithful" sheep show evidence of their faithfulness simply because they sit in the front row. When everything burns away, it simply is not as important as being there and being there in the attitude of repentance and reverence - which you can do as easily in the middle, the side, the infamous back as you can in the front.

  • MatchboxWhistler Atlanta, GA
    May 30, 2014 9:14 a.m.

    I understand the well-meaning subject of this piece, but I can't help but wonder how this writer thinks that where you sit in the congregation has anything to do with your personal commitment to God (or any other deity in any other faith for that matter). He speaks of doing this to "demonstrate" or give a message. What's that about? It's time we stop with these types of unproductive thoughts within the LDS church culture.

    The "small and simple things" here are not where you sit but instead these: show up, remember Christ, and in remembering him love your neighbor. Nothing more or less. We as LDS have enough "traditions of our fathers" that keep us from Christ that we need to get over - please let's not add a new one to the pile.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    May 30, 2014 9:05 a.m.

    Interesting thoughts.

    I used to sit in the back when the kids were small and distracting. Others are on call and may need to leave. We should be careful not to judge them to be withdrawing their support.

    On the comedy side are those with impaired hearing who sit in the back and complain they can't hear. But smile, don't judge. It makes you feel better.