MONTREAL, Canada About 200 elders and sisters in the Canada Montreal Mission sang the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada!" to an appreciative audience prior to the Montreal Expos baseball game Aug. 18.
Assembled in the half-circle pose of a choir, with the name "Canada Montreal Mission" emblazoned on the scoreboard screen, missionaries stood on the field and sang to about 10,000 fans in the stadium.
"The Church in Quebec is not always understood or accepted," said President David Ulrich of the Montreal mission. "No one activity will change an image, but this was a good activity that helped us communicate to this community who we are and what we do. By being visible at this game, we become more accepted in the community."
Later, at the end of the eighth inning, missionaries stood impromptu and sang "Called to Serve," which drew applause from the fans. During the game they were repeatedly featured on the scoreboard screen. A member who regularly attends the Expos Major League baseball games said that fans seldom pay attention to the national anthem, "but they really did this one," he said.
Missionaries say they are enjoying newfound visibility and recognition since the game. Some report being stopped on the street to be greeted by people who saw them sing. Members report an openness or appreciation among neighbors who seem more willing to talk about religion.
Between 50-100 members attended the game, some with "tears of gratitude in their eyes for missionaries making the Church more visible."