Monday, May 20, 2013
The Uplifted Hand
"All in favor, please make it manifest by the uplifted hand......Any opposed by the same sign......."
For help understanding Mormon words and phrases used in this post, see Mormon Terminology, Pt. 1.
During the first part of Sacrament Meeting, the member of the bishopric conducting the meeting will conduct the ward business. Items of ward business include welcoming new members to the ward (congregation), releasing individuals from callings and extending new callings, and approving changes in ward boundaries. All of these items request the ward's unanimous vote. When the member of the bishopric proposes one of these changes, he says something like, "We would like to release Sister Anderson from her calling as Ward Pianist with a vote of thanks. All in favor, please make it manifest by the uplifted hand." This is the part where all the members of the ward will raise their right arms to a right angle with the elbow bent and palm facing forward (as shown in the picture below), to show their support for the proposed change.
One who isn't used to this custom might think it unusual to see all those arms raised, again and again with each item of business, but Mormons are used to it. Mormon practices often make use of outward symbols, just as the Law of Moses did. Mormons not only use the uplifted hand to show support for people and changes in the ward, but also when baptizing (as pictured) and performing other sacred rituals. Mormons might use the "uplifted hand" every Sunday, but it's still a sacred gesture.