While I was Bishop, we had an elderly single gentleman in our ward that had been in the Bataan Death March. Everybody in the ward knew it, because he brought it up every time he bore his testimony, which was EVERY Fast Sunday! It never bothered me as Bishop that he never really “bore testimony” during his time at the pulpit. I thought it must have been therapeutic for him.
My kids would call him “Brother Batann” when he got up to talk, as they knew what was coming. I reminded them that this was probably the defining episode in his life, and that he needed to talk about it, and they should not make fun of him.
We also had other people in the ward that would always talk about the same thing when they got up on Fast Sunday. One brother was into “temple tourism”, and would get up each time he and his wife returned from a trip to tell us all the new temples they had visited. His is a temple worker, and I’m sure he is excited about all the new temples being build, although it really puts a crimp in his trying to vist all the temples, even if he tried limit it to the temples in the continental United States. (or the Mormon corroder for that matter!)
We also had our fair share of really weird/crazy testimonies. The only time I ever had to get up and tell somebody to sit down was when a new member of our ward got up and announced that her father molested her as a child. I knew she had issues, and her previous bishop and father had called me to warn me. While I took no position on the validity of her claims, it was still not something that I felt comfortable letting her talk about over the pulpit, so I got up and told her to finish up because there was a lot of people that where waiting to talk. She moved out soon after, and I don’t know what ever happened to her or what became of her allegations. Should I have let her finish?
There was also the time a sister got up and told the ward that she at one time had lived with her boyfriend, and that he wanted to marry her but she refused because he wouldn’t get married in the temple with her. She then sat down and everybody was trying to figure out the logic to all that when she got back up, and said “I forgot to tell you that this was after my daughter had left the house, because it wouldn’t have been proper to be living with a man with her in the house”, then she sat down for good. The look on the congregation’s faces was priceless. After that incident I told her husband (not the one from the story) to always sit on the outside of her in the pew and never let he get up again! When they finally moved a few years later, the missionaries where helping them load the truck, and they found her stash of pot hanging in a bag behind the headboard in her bedroom. She told them it was for her crohn’s disease. (this was way before even medical mamajuana was legal in California!).
What do you think of Testimony Meeting? Is there a valid reason for it in todays Church? I’ve heard that some wards are restricting the “open mic” aspect of it, and members must get pre approved before that can go up. Has anybody seen this, or heard of a ward doing this?