The Presiding Bishopricâ€™s Office used to publish a monthly magazine called Progress of the Church, filled with news and statistics and directives to Church leaders at the local level. From the January 1941 issue:
Uniform Dress for Passing Sacrament Not Recommended
Before the practice of requiring boys to dress in white shirts and black ties to pass the Sacrament takes on any greater proportions, will not all Bishops please turn to page 78 of Handbook No. 16 or page 137 of the Aaronic Priesthood Handbook and read carefully the instructions given on this subject? In all kindness, brethren, we ask you to follow these instructions.
Boys are not to be required to dress in white shirts and black ties. They should not be asked to remove their coats or any other clothing for the sake of being dressed like other boys. They should, of course, be clean in body, mind and dress but no further requirements made of them.
If boys will not wash themselves clean and appear manly for this service they should be labored with in all kindness and asked to comply with the principles of cleanliness if they expect to be called upon to pass the Sacrament. In some cases it will be necessary to tactfully approach the parents and solicit their cooperation. Extreme care should be exercised to avoid offense to either the boy or his parents. It is generally just boy thoughtlessness, which a kind word will correct.
It is not in keeping with this sacred service for boys with unclean clothing, faces or hands, to officiate in administering or passing the Sacrament. It is far more in keeping with Church standards to insist on boys being clean than that they be dressed a certain way.
The 1941 Handbook (Aaronic Priesthood Handbook: A Guide for Stake and Ward Committees, Bishoprics, and Quorum Advisers, containing the complete program for Aaronic Priesthood Quorums, the Aaronic Priesthood Extension Plan and the Adult Aaronic Priesthood Plan) reads:
Avoid Formalism in Church Worship
â€œThe gospel of Jesus Christ is the very essence of simplicity and truth. The Church which bears His name must resist the introduction of formalities that may lead to ritual and imposing ceremony. In every Church gathering it is important to consider whether any particular formalities may develop an attitude that might detract from the worship of the Lord. Whatever detracts from a particular ordinance being performed or the true worship of the Lord, will tend toward formalism.
â€œIn the administration of the Sacrament, while it is very desirable that the clothing and the general appearance of those who administer and pass it should be very neat, clean and appropriate, it is not desirable to require such uniformity in dress and action as to smack of formalism. Though white shirts and dark ties for the young men are proper, it should not be required that all be exactly alike in dress and general appearance. Proper encouragement can and should be given to them to be thoroughly neat and clean and with appropriate dress. also, there should not be any requirement as to the posture or action while passing the Sacrament, such as carrying the left hand behind the back or maintaining stiffness in walking or any tendency toward military order in action.
â€œThe passing of the Sacrament should be quietly natural and unobtrusive. Certainly the sacredness of this and every other ordinance justifies the greatest care and preparation to insure order, appropriateness and reverence for that which the ordinance typifies without having the performance detract from the thought and purpose thereof.â€
With these instructions in mind it is suggested that the bishopric and the Aaronic Priesthood Committee plan the demonstration and invite suggestions from members as to methods and procedure based upon local conditions, but in harmony with the instructions of the church authorities.
(These are the instructions contained in the bulletin issued by the Presiding Bishopric in February, 1935.)