- Fast Sunday
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Fast Sunday is a Sunday (usually the first Sunday of every month) set aside for fasting.
On Fast Sunday, members of the church are encouraged to fast for two consecutive meals; most members of the church choose to skip the first two meals on Sunday, though some skip the last meal on Saturday and the first meal on Sunday. Members are also encouraged to give the money they save by not eating as a
fast offeringwhich will be used by the church to help the needy. The Sunday date is in marked contrast to most other Christian denominations that encourage fasting but invariably exempt Sundays.
On Fast Sunday, the regular
sacrament meetingis known as fast and testimony meeting, where rather than predetermined speakers on particular subjects, the members are given the chance to voluntarily bear testimonyto one another of gospel truths and to share spiritual experiences they have had. Any interested non-members of the church are welcome to participate in Fast Sunday activities.
Fast Sunday was not always on the First Sunday of Each Month. Starting in 1896, Fast Day was set to be the first Sunday of the month, instead of the first Thursday. Since then it was commonly referred to as Fast Sunday. When a conference is held on the first Sunday of the month than fast Sunday may either be the preceding Sunday or following Sunday after the conference. Such is always the case in April and October as General Conference is almost always held on the first Sunday of the month. Also many stakes have there conference scheduled on first Sunday of the month as well and have similar fast Sunday schedules as general conference. On occasion ward conferences and temple dedications may also cause a change in the fast Sunday schedule.
In addition to the regular fast Sunday schedule often individuals and wards or stakes may have additional special fasts for things such as: moisture for farmers, health for individuals, employment, missionary and temple work as well as any other reason.
The original fast day was started by
Joseph Smith, Jr.as told by Brigham Young:
:"You know that the first Thursday of each month we hold as a fast day. How many here know the origin of this day? Before tithing was paid, the poor were supported by donations. They came to Joseph and wanted help in Kirtland, and he said there should be a fast day, which was decided upon. It was to be held once a month, as it is now, and all that would have been eaten that day, of flour, or meat, or butter, or fruit, or anything else was to be carried to the fast meeting and put into the hands of a person selected for the purpose of taking care of it and distributing it among the poor"::-
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 115.
Modern LDS leaders have affirmed the need for a Fast Day, as
Gordon B. HinckleyStated:
:"What would happen if the principles of fast day and the fast offering were observed throughout the world [?] The hungry would be fed, the naked clothed, the homeless sheltered. [...] A new measure of concern and unselfishness would grow in the hearts of people everywhere."::-
Gordon B. Hinckley"The State of the Church," Ensign, May 1991, 52-53.
Research presented at a recent meeting of the
American Heart Associationby Benjamin Horne of the University of Utahsuggests that the monthly fasts help to protect against coronary artery disease. Mormons generally have a 61% rate of coronary artery disease versus 66% of non-Mormons, which has generally been attributed to abstention from tobacco. However, among Mormons (average age 64) seeking coronary diagnosis, all of whom reported abstention from alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, 59% of those who fasted were found to have coronary artery disease (70% blockage or more), versus 67% of those who did not fast. [cite web|url=http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-11/aha-pws102407.php|title=People who skip meals - are they better off?]
* [http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,49-1-479-16,00.html The Blessings of a Proper Fast, from the LDS official web site]
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