I don’t wish to detract from Adam’s lovely post, but after reading the comments, I am surprised at how common the late September Primary Program is. According to the yearly outline for the program, the Primary Program is to be held during the fourth quarter.
I have no idea what went into the decision to plan the program for September in all of the wards where this happens. But I do know that when I asked around once, I was told that (1) sacrament meeting attendance “counts” for the ward budget in September and (2) the best-attended sacrament meeting of the year is the Primary Program. So in some cases, the decision is made deliberately to put the program in September to beef up ward funding.
The thing is: there are lots of disadvantages (ethical issues aside) to a September program. First, it is difficult to practice for since August usually means half the ward is on vacation and so you have only a few weeks to get things together. Second, it creates a real “dead zone” in Primary in October and November since the work of the year is finished. (December, what with Christmas, seems to take care of itself.) Finally, the program is supposed to reflect the theme for the calendar year–and if you start practicing in September, it only reflects 3/4ths of the year.
I’m sure there are various local concerns (i.e, pregnant choristers) of which I am unaware that might justify a September program. But if the sole reason is to enhance the ward budget by doing something contrary to the handbook, that’s unethical. There’s also the (very bad) precedent set when one deliberately decides to do anything contrary to the handbook.
I admit that I may be missing something–I am going on hearsay here and I’m not a church policy wonk and I am completely unaware of circumstances in other wards. But if your ward has been in the habit of having the program in Sept. in order to “help” the budget, and if you have anything to say about the schedule next year, please follow the program guidelines and schedule it for the fourth quarter.