In August 1830, a heavenly messenger appeared to Joseph Smith and
instructed him1 that, "it mattereth not what ye shall eat or
what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament" and said further that the
real importance was "remembering unto the Father [Jesus's] body which was
laid down for you, and [His] blood which was shed for the remission of your
sins."2 As such, most sacrament meetings in The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use water instead of wine or grape
While I was reading this passage the other night, I wondered how much money the
Church saves annually by using water instead of juice. There are almost 13
million members on the records of the Church. From my experience it
seems that about 50% of a ward's members attend sacrament meetings on a regular
basis. Nearly all of those attending partake of the sacrament which includes
drinking one small cup of water. Each cup contains about 1/4 ounce of liquid.
Sacrament meetings are held every week of the year except 4 (General and Stake
conferences). Using those assumptions, members of the Church consume about
609,000 gallons of liquid each year while partaking of the
For this calculation, we'll assume that water is essentially free. Buying
grape juice from Sam's Club costs around $5.50 per gallon (in
Cheyenne, at least). Assuming that the Church could get some kind of volume
discount, maybe it would be as cheap as $5 per gallon. That comes out to
around $3 million annually.
This doesn't include the cost of cleaning up spilled grape juice. It also assumes that there is no wasted juice. The savings might be twice as high if we accounted for the extra cups that are poured to make sure surprise visitors are able to partake of the sacrament.
Of course, the economic cost is probably the least important reason for using
water as part of the sacrament, it's nevertheless interesting to see the
unintentional savings the Church enjoys from this practice.