I hold a calling in my ward as a substitute teacher in Primary. I actually love this calling because I get to interact with all the different children and it has given me great insight into where I want to focus in teaching as a school teacher once I finally complete my schooling. We don't have a large primary, but it's not small either. It is large enough that we can get some good volume when all the children are singing, but small enough that I can actually name all the children with the exception of a couple who are new in the ward.
In all my times of subbing, I have noticed is that there is a serious lack of reverence. The children come in from Sacrament Meeting and treat the Primary room as a social center. The pianist is usually in there playing prelude music, but it doesn't seem to help. All but one member of the Primary Presidency has children in Primary as do many of the teachers yet having mom or dad in there doesn't seem to be a deterrent to the noise level. My own children have felt my glowering stare as I mentally urge them to quit fiddling with their friends and set the example.
This evening I had the opportunity to join with sisters throughout the Stake for a light luncheon followed by the broadcast of the General Women's Conference. The lunch started at 3:30 and the broadcast began at 5:00. One would think that having an hour and a half to mingle, munch, and socialize would be sufficient and that upon entering the chapel with the anticipation of hearing from our General Presidency and Prophet, we could expect reverence. Me and a couple of other sisters from my ward went into the chapel about 15 minutes prior to the start of the broadcast. The screen showed choir members who were most likely singing prelude music as the timer counted down, but the volume had been muted. I was dismayed at the amount of noise from chitchat occurred while we waited.
Just prior to the start of the broadcast, the Stake Relief Society President made a few comments and we sang an opening hymn. Then the broadcast started and quickly ended. Due to technical difficulties, we watched the computer screen show the attempts of some lucky Priesthood holder to get the broadcast up and running. Instead of sitting quietly waiting, the noise level immediately increased and became so loud that even when the audio stream came back through with the opening hymn of the broadcast, the sisters didn't stop talking. They did quiet down for the opening prayer, but when all we received was the audio stream with no picture, it seemed as if reverence was now an option rather than the expectation.
Technical difficulties continued and included a re-boot of the computer system. Each time we lost the broadcast, we also lost reverence. At one point I became aware of a sister sitting two rows behind me who was speaking so loudly, she might as well have been speaking to me. I know I am not the only who was bothered by this, as the other 4 sisters sharing my pew quietly attended to their own notes and thoughts while we waited for the broadcast to resume. I am grateful for their sisterhood and reverent manner. But I am so disheartened by the actions of too many others.
I realize that opportunities to socialize with our church members outside of church are limited. But the chapel should be a reverent place where people can come in, sit quietly, reflect, meditate, or pray without the interference of others who want to socialize. If you are not ready to sit quietly, then perhaps you should not enter the chapel. And if we cannot set the reverent example to our children and others within the chapel, how can we possibly expect our children to act reverently when they are sent off to their Primary chapel?