Meeting Times

One of the familiar New Year’s rites for Mormons is the changing of the meeting times. My ward is moving from 11:30 to 1:30 meeting times. I’m not thrilled — the 11:30 time had its drawbacks (primarily that Sacrament Meeting fell right in the middle of nap time and lunch time), but a 1:30 starting time means that church doesn’t end until 4:30, and we won’t be home until after 5. That means that we will get less done on Sunday. (Sunday mornings are pretty much wasted time, but I occasionally get something productive done on Sunday afternoon after church).

I was just wondering how this ritual fits in to Mormon history, and to the general religious landscape. Is the January 1st meeting-time change a recent development in the church? Does anyone (Jim?) know where the idea came from? How does this fit in to the change to 3-hour block meetings? And, is this a little bit of sui generis wierdness, or do other churches have similar rituals? I wonder . . .

7 comments for “Meeting Times

  1. At our Ward, we are moving from 1pm to 9am. I think this tradition comes from the fact that like in our Stake, the same building is utilised by multiple growing Wards, and staggering when the different Wards meet is the only way to utilise the Building it without either building a whole new Church building or expanding the existing buildings. I have noticed that when in Jan 2003 our Ward moved to the 1pm slot, attendance went down a bit. Some folks will attend Church come what may, but, I noticed that manywho valued convenience began to have spotty attendance.
    In my case, when it was inconvenient fo rme to attend my Ward at 1pm, i just attended Church at 10am at the YSA Ward which is located in a different building right next to the University Campus.

  2. I’ve always believed the reason to be due to multiple wards in the same building. The rotation gives everyone an opportunity to forego sleeping in on some years and afternoon naps on others. :)

    Many other churches do offer multiple times for which members can pick whatever suits them. In the case of my former protestant church, they had 8am traditional, 10:30 contemporary, and years after I left added a Saturday night service to cater to the “I want my whole Sunday free to play” crowd.

  3. Since there were no rotating schedules until we began to have more than one ward meet in the same building and the rotating schedules came into existence at exactly the same time as did putting more than one ward in a building, I think that multiple wards in the same building is the best explanation.

  4. Just to go along with Renee, I wonder what the effect of *choosing* ones ward would be? Outside of large Mormon areas, probably nothing, given the fact a ward covers a large geographic area. But within the more dense Mormon areas I wonder if it would allow people to be with those more like them along with (somewhat paradoxically) providing greater diversity. When your ward boundaries are 4 blocks by 5 blocks, there isn’t that much diversity and simultaneously those who aren’t quite the generic type tend to find it difficult to find friends to associate with. (Those could be by educational strata, age, or even language)

    Just curious.

    I’ve also often wondered, now that I’m in a married ward without the “reverence” of a singles ward, whether a shorter sacrament service might not be beneficial. It seems few children can stay quiet through one. And, now that I’m in nursery, I perhaps notice such things more.

    I know that a few years back the church was running some tests on a two hour meeting to both save on church space and deal with kids. Since I’ve heard nothing of it I assume the costs outweighed the benefits…

  5. Clark wrote:
    “I’ve also often wondered, now that I’m in a married ward without the “reverence” of a singles ward, whether a shorter sacrament service might not be beneficial. It seems few children can stay quiet through one. And, now that I’m in nursery, I perhaps notice such things more.”

    Or how about providing childcare for the preschool set? For me, even if I had to help staff such a nursery every other week, it would still provide a 200% improvement in my ability to participate in Sacrament Meeting.

    I always say I’m glad we belong to a church that supports families and children, because it’s hard to imagine what an “anti-family” church might dream up to torture children that would be worse than the three-hour block :)

  6. Long meetings are a means of brain washing. Especially when they take place over lunch or nap times!

  7. I’ve often wondered about a Nursery for sacrament as well. Personally though I think we could eliminate one of the talks without much loss of spirituality. (And, let’s be honest, typically at least one of the talks really sucks anyway) Perhaps eliminate a talk, shorten one other, and cut Sacrament down to 40 minutes from 1:15. Then get the little ones off to nursery and have some extra singing time. (I confess I don’t know most of the songs our ward picks for singing)

    I’d also really like it if we’d take a break from the linear scripture based Sunday School lessons we’ve been doing since the mid 80’s and move back to a more topical Gospel Doctrine class — more like Gospel Essentials but at a more mature level. I find the linear approach important – however it has definite weaknesses as well. Further Priesthood lessons, while helpful, really aren’t that doctrinal in nature.

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