One meeting down, only 437 left to go

I was pleasantly surprised by the Church Newsroom’s announcement that in 2018 they would be consolidating the Women’s and Priesthood sessions of General Conference to one alternating session (held Saturday evening), with priesthood holders meeting in April and women in October. Surprised because, much as no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects Mormons to cut meetings. (Although it occasionally does happen. But then, so did the Spanish Inquisition.) Pleasantly because I think cutting meetings is generally something that should be encouraged, so I calibrate my emotions accordingly.

I haven’t discussed this with my husband yet, but I’m expecting him to be a little disappointed–not because he loves church meetings so much, but because he and our boys have a tradition of doing a Priesthood session after-party with their friends, and while cutting meetings is generally good, cutting parties is generally terrible. I made several attempts to get a similar Relief Society session after-party tradition going in my ward, but without much success. At first, it was because the stake Relief Society already had its correlated after-party/senior Laurel recognition at the stake center, and most ladies figured, why re-invent the wheel? But then they added eight-year-olds to the mix, the correlated after-party got cut, and without a correlated, church-sponsored event complete with invitations, most women wouldn’t even remember the Women’s session was happening that Saturday, let alone feel like they had license to go out without a church meeting to serve as an excuse.

Obviously, no one needs the church’s permission to get together with their friends, so the reduction in after-parties isn’t a good reason to be against the reduction in meetings. But it is sad when traditions get cut in half.

On the other hand, now the Women’s session looks like it’s actually part of General Conference, instead of only technically part of General Conference. I’m sure eight-year-old Mormon girls everywhere are thrilled.

I have seen on the Twitter that already some (including disembodied blog BCC) are using this turn of events to pump new life into the old two-hour block initiative. On the one hand, what’s good enough for General Conference should be good enough for the church in general! On the other hand, not sure everyone would be thrilled with cutting the number of female speakers in sacrament meeting to 13% of all talks. So, you know, it’s a double-edged sword. But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to exploit it.

It’s not that I dislike Relief Society or that I don’t see the benefits to sex-segregated classes, but one has to weigh the costs of a third hour of church against whatever benefit that third hour brings. Is there a way to extract a similar benefit from fewer hours of church? Some have suggested alternating Sunday school and Priesthood/Relief Society every other Sunday. (Or, to simplify schedules, hold one class first and third Sundays and the other second and fourth, with the occasional fifth Sunday being the usual wild card.) I personally would be okay with holding Priesthood/Relief Society once a month, maybe on Fast Sunday. Curriculum-wise, the topics discussed in the third hour are not any different from those discussed in the second hour. A couple weeks ago the Sunday school lesson and the PH/RS lesson were both on priesthood and prophetic succession. (With the Come Follow Me curriculum, our youth actually get two hours’ worth of the same freaking lessons every single week.) The difference is in the class dynamics. Co-ed discussions tend to be different from all-women or all-men discussions. Is this how it should be? Should it be different? I don’t know. I don’t care. I care that by the time the third hour rolls along, most of us are really tired and/or hungry and/or bored.

I’m not sure who out there still likes the three-hour block. Maybe people who are old enough to remember when they had to go to church all day. (Didn’t General Conference used to be something like ten sessions? Or a week? Like Parley P. Pratt reading the Book of Mormon, food and sleep were a burden, all anyone wanted to do was go to conference?) Yes, people used to be better than we are. They didn’t complain about sitting in church for a mere three hours. I have to teach my Primary class about the sacrifices of the pioneers. I plan to drive home what pansies they are compared to their ancestors. But Primary seems to be the only reason (other than an unwillingness to change and try new things) we still have three hours of church. Because what are you going to do? Drop sharing time?

God forbid! But you could cut both sharing time and class time in half, and I bet the kids would be fine. In fact, they’d be more than fine, especially the younger ones. Older people tend to forget what it’s like to have young children. I no longer have young children, but I have not forgotten. Nothing could make me forget. Those years are seared in my memory. I don’t have a lot of specific individual memories, mind you–but an extremely vivid emotional and psychological memory of generalized misery at church? That is indelible. For a family with young children, there is no good place in the schedule to block out three hours for anything, unless it’s sleep. It’s probably because our children are spoiled and watch too much TV and eat too many carbs. (Also, half of them don’t even have the Holy Ghost.) But whatever the reason, those three hours take their toll, whether it’s 9-12, 11-2, or 1-4. (Or, if you’re really unlucky, 8:30-11:30, 12-3, and 3:30-6:30.) Not only on the kids, but on their poor parents and teachers. (Not that I would ever complain about teaching Primary, but then, I don’t teach Sunbeams during the third hour. If I did, I would probably use more duct tape.)

So why, why, why do we still have three-hour church? That’s a rhetorical question. The actual question is how, how, how do we convince the PTB that two-hour church is not selling out our pioneer ancestors and won’t lead to dogs and cats living together? Discuss.

Comments

  1. Two hours would do wonders for how I feel about Sundays. If I went 1-3 instead of 1-4 I’d go happily.

    I like the idea of alternating Sundays what classes get taught. I kind of hate toiling through SS to get to RS so a change would be so welcome. Although, in my experience the 2nd and 3rd hour almost always have different topics. Maybe I’ve just been in wards that buck the schedule and mix it up?

  2. Doesn’t really answer all your questions, but . . . As a father of four youth-aged boys, and an often-called YM instructor myself, I believe there is separate and equal value in both co-ed Sunday School and the gender-segregated third hour. The discussions can be tailored to youth in ways that, I think, they need and from which, in my experience, they benefit. So, though I outwardly really hope for two hour church, deep down I kind of think the current system is really great for our youth. (Don’t ask me how often I go to Gospel Doctrine . . . I won’t answer)

  3. Another possibility/compromise: skim off half an hour and do 2 x 45 minute post-sacrament class sessions. It would force all speakers to be a little more pithy.

  4. I’m not sure why cutting down to 2 hours necessitates cutting out the third hour classes. Sacrament meeting could clock in comfortably at about 40 minutes (with a youth and an adult speaker), leaving enough of time for regularly scheduled programming in a slightly modified format for the remaining 80 minutes.

  5. Back in the good old days, General Conference was three days, and for some years in the 70s before they cut it back to two days, they also had a Welfare Session on Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. On the other hand, I don’t think anybody expected you to watch all of it, or to spend the next six months rereading every word and teaching a whole pile of lessons from it and regurgitating the talks as talks in sacrament meetings. Listening to Friday conference was a little like listening to the World Series back when it was played in the afternoon the way God intended–you’d catch a bit here are there between classes, or while you were grabbing a snack in the kitchen after school. Saturdays you might hear some while you were doing your regular Saturday work around the house, but at least you put on a shirt and tie and went to General Priesthood Meeting and hung out with the men and boys, again, the way God intended.

    You could go up and hang out at Temple Square, where there seemed to be a million people also hanging out, and it seemed that your parents knew at least half of them, and people you knew from out of town–exotic places like Arizona and California–would come into town “for Conference” and it felt rather like they were on a pilgrimage. So that part was better.

  6. As a Primary veteran, I have noticed an increased emphasis on Music Time over Sharing Time (the timeline shortens Sharing Time and encourages singing first). Translation: someone is concluding that the Sharing Time lesson is falling flat, which my years of experience mostly bears out. Sharing Time seems to be the least meaningful and/or memorable part of the day and could easily be cut or shortened. For the 3-12 year old crowd, I like the idea of a 30 minute group meeting (with mostly music) and a 30 minute lesson (because they’re not listening after that anyway).

  7. Two hour church… just… wow. That sounds amazing. Personally I would vote for alternating the third hour rather than shortening classes (for adults anyway). Otherwise I guarantee you RS would go over time every. single. week. And while I like both SS and RS, a little less of both would make me like them a lot more!

  8. I don’t mind the three-hour block. I also wouldn’t mind a two-hour block, but I’m not sure why two is supposed to be so much better than three. The prep time of showering, shaving, and dressing is the same for both. And, of course, there’s nothing stopping any individual member from making the three-hour block a personal two-hour block on any given Sunday.

  9. I’m one of those few people who still like the three-hour block. Granted, sacrament meeting could be a bit shorter (maybe down to 50 or 60 minutes), which I would replace with more time to mingle in between classes. I think Sunday School and third hour are important every week for a variety of reasons (learning in mixed-gender and single-gender groups, different curriculum, etc.). However, I think staying at three hours provides the best opportunity to meet, talk with, and just plain see other ward members. Speaking as one who is rather introverted, if you took away an hour from Sunday meetings and told me to go spend the third “newly freed” hour talking with ward members in their homes, it wouldn’t be very productive.

    I think the issue comes back to the purpose of Church meetings. Yes, we come to learn for ourselves. But just as important, we come to serve. And the three-hour block provides important opportunities to serve that would be lacking if we just said “Go take that third hour and serve on your own time.”

  10. I’ve long wished that the Priesthood and Women’s sessions could be the two Saturday blocks of General Conference. This gets a little closer to that dream…

  11. Mark Brown says:

    Sometimes I volunteer to help with church services at a rest home. Church starts at 10 and ends at noon, because that’s when the cafeteria serves lunch. If the speaker hasn’t finished her thought or the teacher hasn’t quite wrapped up his lesson, or there is still another verse in the closing hymn, too bad. When people hear the dinner bell, they get up and leave. Those who can’t get up roll out in their wheelchairs.

    Somehow the church is still true.

  12. I agree that Primary Sharing Time is a waste – it has devolved into games. I vote to keep the current Sacrament meeting format (1’5″). give 10 minutes for “passing time.” End the block 1 hour later at quarter past. Love the 30/30 plan for primary kids. For all teens & adults, use fast Sunday for respective YM, YW, RS, and PH group meetings – focus on business, planning, spiritual goals, whatever. For the rest of the Sundays, have teens do current SS type curriculum (mixed sex or not – local choice). Put adults into “gospel doctrine” classes in whatever class configurations make sense for the ward (gospel doctrine, essentials, marriage & family, whatever). Wish we knew all the great ideas posted here would be considered by SOMEONE.

  13. You could solve the primary problem by releasing kids right after the sacrament (and maybe one five minute talk aimed at them if you think they need more practice listening to grownups talk at them). They can do singing time/sharing time while the adults suffer through the rest of sacrament meeting and then primary class while adults do the alternating S.S. /R.S. Priesthood quorums thing. May also make more adults willing to serve in primary so they can skip out on talks.

  14. I want two hour church, where once a month the second hour is a linger-longer type affair. Maybe where adults rotate taking care of kids. Even if there are no snacks, church -approved “just go socialize with each other, get your visiting teaching done, whatever” as an official hour would be incredible.

  15. Two hour church might make us more attractive to investigators. People think we’re nuts for attending church three hours every Sunday (among other things).

  16. Unusually grumblous says:

    I’d be happy if there were a five-minute span anywhere in the three hours that made it worth the trouble of putting on my bra.

  17. Aussie Mormon says:

    I’m actually quite happy with the three hour block.
    Being in a place where I don’t see my ward members across the street, or at the work place, or in the shops (unless they happen to work there), the chances of interaction with them in day to day life (i.e. outside of church meetings) is quite low.

  18. So…you’re proposing cutting my free babysitting in half. That’s a hard no for me.

  19. Good morrow,
    Being from faithful Puritan stock, I prithee keep the godly 3 HR block, a time for sabbath worship least we fall pray to Satan himself. Saints should come thither in the morn, then go hither to sup some porridge for the noon meal, then return for the rest of the sabbath daylight. The entire day should be spent in prayer, in psalmody, and study of the bible. Sinners whose attention wanders during sabbath services or sinners who begin to sleep shall be awakened by a rod, wielded by a deacon.

    The good lord gaveth is 113 waking hours in each week, how canst we not giveth 3-7 hours in praise and worship?

    Repent ye sinners and ammend your wicked ways! Worship as is goodly, 3, nay, even 7 hours on the sabbath!

  20. Why are we settling for a two hour block? Why not push for 1.5 hours? 45 minute Sacrament Meeting, 5 minute get to class, 40 minute class. Allow a half hour break before the next ward starts.

    Primary could alternate: one week sharing time, one week class. Or better yet, make sharing time a once a month special!

    Youth could alternate: one with joint YM/YW, one week separate.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    The idea of a two-hour block has been floating around for years,and the Church for whatever reason hasn’t pulled the trigger on it. So a year or two ago I had a revelation: I just self-medicate and create my own two-hour block. So that is what I have been doing; I bail after SS. And I’ve gotta say, it’s wonderful. I’m much happier at church knowing it’s only for two hours.

  22. Diana Windley says:

    As a Primary teacher with 5 year olds in class the third hour, those last 50 minutes are nuts. And those lesson manuals are so out of date…something has got to give!

  23. I suspect this boils down to $$$. I’m sure there is a hefty price tag on producing these conference sessions and the lone women’s session was undoubtedly the most expensive.

    You know what would also save the church a lot of money? Trimming the Sunday Block down to two hours. Maintenance cost savings on the bathrooms alone could be incredible. I mean it. The buildings would wear so much better and last so much longer if that last hour of church was only a memory.

    And I love the comment above about dismissing children after the sacrament or youth talk. My Methodist friends do this. It is fun and works well. And as a primary teacher nothing would make me happier than missing more of the adult stuff.

  24. For all the pros and cons to consolidating the conference sessions, I think the most important is that the Women’s session being a week away was always going to have the look and feel of separate and not equal. For changing that alone, I count the consolidation a good thing.

    As for the two-hour idea, I’m with Kevin Barney but more so. Some combination of heterodoxy (some would use stronger terms) and empty nest status lets me view the Eucharistic part of the Sacrament Meeting as what I’m really interested in, and treat everything else as optional to be enjoyed or not on a week by week basis.

  25. Years ago we had a year of 2 hour church because of building issues. It was heaven! Sacrament meeting was 1 hour and Primary/Priesthood/RS were 50 minutes. No Sunday School. I was in the primary presidency and it was the best year of primary. Lessons were 25 minutes and sharing time was 25 (we rotated between Jr. & Sr.). All of the teachers left with smiles on their faces – even the nursery. The lessons were easier to prepare because you only had time for the essentials. Our ward had a great missionary year and we baptized 2 complete families. At the end of the year we had to confess that they had been tricked and that church was really 3 hours. They were not amused.

  26. Angela JO says:

    So true Diana. I teach the Sunbeam class and I love being there, but after 15 minutes their focus is gone. (As any 3-4 year olds would be.) Our manual would work well at that time amount also. My biggest problem is the lessons don’t have enough material to cover 50 minutes. The kids do well with the concrete lessons Sunbeams have on their body, family, and the creation.

  27. Angela, when I taught the 4-5 class, we did a 15 minute lesson and spent the rest of the time coloring, playing with play doh, doing little games, etc. There definitely isn’t enough lesson or attention span for the whole time. I’m sure everyone would be happy to trim some Primary time.

  28. I’d prefer 4 hours on Sunday.

  29. another anon says:

    I think the impact of the 3 hour block on our missionary and retention work is really underappreciated. This came up *all the time* on my mission. We’d meet someone, have a good initial conversation, they’d be mildly interested, and then…we’d tell them that church was across town, and 3 hours to boot. Suddenly, the mild intrigue of a first meeting with interesting foreign missionaries turned into a polite but immediate decline.

    Sure, for those of us who are converted or have family support or whatever, the 3 hour block is doable. But for someone who is hearing about the church for the first time, haven’t felt the witness of the holy ghost, and has no family support? Hearing that members of this church basically lose half their sunday is an immediate turn-off. First impressions matter. This is a bad one. So if it’s not theologically necessary, why do we insist on it?

    Speaking of things that aren’t theologically necessary, as has been discussed elsewhere, it seems like the prohibition on coffee may not be either.

    Thought experiment: imagine that the church announced next week that we’d go to a 2 hour block and no longer consider coffee to be a WOW no-no. Am I crazy for thinking that, within 6 months, missionary/retention efforts would go up…what, 5%? 10%? That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  30. In a letter my grandmother sent out recently, she went over the evolution of General Conference that she experienced. Earliest memories consisted of sitting outside of the Tabernacle, listening to General Conference over some loud speakers that were setup. The only time limit on the speakers was to start the next session at the scheduled time, and that was due to radio. But given that the radio stations that broadcast General Conference anyway were all church owned, there was no time limit. So any speaker would speak for as long as they wanted.
    Then when they were living outside of the Mormon corridor, most of their consumption of General Conference consisted of mentions of it in letters that they’re parents would right to them. Then came the introduction of television, and that forced the speakers to a time limit. Apparently this was a big struggle.
    On the flip side, occasionally a local station would play General Conference as a way to fit some sort of public service quota they were obliged to meet.
    I don’t remember if she mentioned when church magazines started having regular General Conference issues.

  31. What if we did two hours of church, but then there was a special third hour for empty nesters? A High Priests group + spouses and widows class.

  32. I like that phrase, “seared in my memory”. Yep.

  33. As a Primary teacher, I’m not liking the idea of releasing the kids right after the sacrament. It means I’d be getting up early on a weekend and putting on a dress on Sunday mornings just to babysit other people’s kids. Um – no. Besides, I don’t know whether it’s geography or what, but we actually get a lot of good sacrament meeting talks (and have good gospel doctrine teachers as well). I’d hate to miss them – I need to be able to get something out of church.

    But I do think we could easily cut both lesson time and sharing time down!

  34. China Girl says:

    I am an American living in China, where I attend a small branch of about 25 people, all of us ex-patriates. We have a two-hour Sunday schedule. We have a one-hour Sacrament Meeting and a second hour that alternates between Sunday School one week and Priesthood/Relief Society the next week. Maybe the fact that it takes most people nearly an hour to get to our meetings, and then an hour to get home, has something to do with this.

    Our entire church program is simplified, given that we are all adults, with the exception of a couple of babies – no Primary, no YM/YW. Visiting teaching and home teaching only need to be done quarterly, but most of us still do monthly visits because we enjoy getting together with our fellow members.

  35. I don’t get why we have gender divided classes. Especially since the topics are now exactly the same for both men/women and YM/YW. My ideal Sunday worship would be Sacrament meeting and then an opportunity to really read, discuss, and ponder the scriptures. 2 hours would be perfect!

  36. Our tiny branch was getting too burnt out on doing the full three hours. People were unhappy. So we got permission to have one and only one speaker during sacrament meeting. At whatever time that speaker finishes, we just adjust the rest of the time accordingly. It’s been good and we’ve been clocking in at between 2:15 and 2:30 each week.

  37. The three hour block on Sunday is never three hours due to one hour of travel time each way. That’s five hours every week. Seven hours if I go to the mid-singles ward which is two hours of travel time each way due to horrid bus connections.

    I would love love love a two hour block. I think it should be like an AA meeting (not that I would know personally) with a 45 minute opening meeting, followed by a half hour of socializing followed by another 45 minute meeting. Two hours in total. Everyone goes home happy plus there would be an opportunity to catch up with people you don’t see during the week, which is how I see the real purpose of our meeting together. We should be strengthening each other and bearing one another’s burdens.

    I have also had experiences where non-member friends have asked if they could come to church with me and when they find out it’s three hours they lose all interest. They don’t come at all, not even once. This happens a lot.

  38. I would also love to use that final meeting to study the scriptures, particularly the words of the Saviour in context rather than just proof texting or regurgitating conference talks that I already heard when I watched conference.

  39. I would love a two hour block. Heck Id love a three hour block. With standard classes and then choir practice (which I wouldn’t trade for salt) and then other meetings, I’m lucky to get home by 2 off a 9am start. I shouldn’t complain too badly though, when I was clerking church was a 8 hour day -without a lunch break!
    I personally would the two hour block to be something like:
    1) a half hour sacrament meeting: 15 minutes for the ordinance, one short talk about God and things, and 5 minutes to whip around the kind of announcements that get repeated sixteen billion times in each auxiliary’s ‘opening exercises’.
    2) 40 minutes of your choice of study class with 5 minutes to get there (Gospel Principles, Gospel Doctine, YM/YM, Men’s/Women’s Quorum)
    3) 40 minutes of Choose Your Own Adventure with 5 minutes to get there (continuing that SS conversation that was actually good for once, choir practice, ward council, teaching classes, aux presidency meetings, home and visiting teaching / Hallway Class).
    4) Weekly Linger Longer for those inclined or who just cant let go off the 3 hr block.
    The kids can have 1hr and a half in primary split up however they like. Nothing is longer than the scientifically proven 40 minute human attention span, here’s less repetition and opportunity to not have to cut off discussion when we actually get beyond the slightly gamey milk level we usually teach at.
    If we need to have any of those longer meeting like ward conference / presentations from SLC these can fill up the 2nd slot as well. And to set an example general conference session are peeled back to 90 minutes each.

  40. Aussie Mormon says:

    ” And to set an example general conference session are peeled back to 90 minutes each.”

    I’m not sure that’d still be the case if most of the Q15 weren’t so old/sick.

  41. Th Other Brother Jones says:

    Gen Conf has been “peeling back” to 90 minutes several times in the last few years. A pleasant surprise every time.
    And we definitely could save a lot by streamlining the announcements.
    I used to live in a small branch where we had a 2 hr block. It was very different from what is described here. But or reason was that we couldn’t staff 3 hrs. But we lived an hours drive away, and there were meetings before and after because everyone had a leadership calling. So it was a full day every time.

  42. One of my sons pointed out that the timing of the meetings was not thought out very carefully. This places priesthood meeting every April smack dab in the middle of the Final Four. If they moved priesthood to October and the women’s meeting to April, everyone would be a lot happier. Sorry for being sexist, but I’ve observed that most women don’t really care about March Madness as much as their male counterparts.

  43. nobody, really says:

    Missionary church – meet in a member home at 6 PM. Announcements, opening hymn, opening prayer. Sacrament hymn and ordinance. Short talk from one member in attendance – three to five minutes. Gospel Essentials lesson. Closing prayer, socialize, people walk home. One hour tops. Greatest schedule ever.

    Second greatest schedule – Sacrament meeting when I was in college, aimed at shift workers, first responders, and health care providers (I was working in a group home). It was Sacrament meeting only, 7 PM. Each ward in the surrounding three stakes would rotate sending a Bishopric member to conduct, a Priest, a Deacon, and two speakers.

    Worst schedule ever – 5:40 AM BYU singles ward. Full block. If you weren’t there, your ecclesiastical endorsement could be revoked. I found a family ward as quick as I could. Even though it was a snake pit of untamed children, it was far better. I could never figure out how they expected students to date and get married off if they were going to require an 8 PM bedtime on Saturday night.

    And from what I understand, the recent 90 minute General Conference times are more due to the death or illness of a scheduled speaker rather than any effort to scale back the mandatory meetings.

  44. Wally, I wonder if the timing means the Q15 are partial to football (although President Monson is a known basketball fan, so this seems unlikely).

  45. Martin James says:

    Here are some things to think about for the block reformers:
    1. 20 minutes of the block is the in between blocks. There could be some time savings there.
    2. Prayers in each portion of the block is also something that would be consolidated with fewer portions of the block.
    3. Sacrament used to be in Sunday school opening exercises/hymn practice also so the sacrament could be in a meeting other than “sacrament meeting”.
    As for objectives other than just time reduction: I would say that adding an element of choice is the most important. That could take the form of optional things like linger longer or “singing” time or scripture study.
    The second objective would be more opportunity for ad hoc socializing and conversation.
    As for constraints some of the stickier ones seem to be
    1. Age and gender specific components.
    2. The medium is the message aspects of the meetings : leaders up front talking to everyone, and see number 1 above.
    The key to shorter with as little loss as possible is to forget weekly and make mini-blocks in monthly, quarterly or semi-annual – like A/B high school schedules. This flexibility would make all kinds of callings and assignments less stressful – like a weekly primary class and also make it much more adaptive over time where different experimental “mini-blocks” could be substituted with less impact. Juggle the line-up to keep things fresh. Again, I think the ideal would be more choice and not just less time.
    When you really think about it, almost everything is flexible within both the doctrine and even historical precedent. Change happens.

  46. Jenny Harrison says:

    When my son was in Chile more than 10 years ago on a mission the church meeting schedule was only 2 hours. 40 min for each class. He said the children were happier and that made everybody happier. Do we really NEED 3 hours of church on Sunday??? Couldn’t we be out loving our neighbor instead? Last winter we had a terrible storm and church was cancelled. The whole neighborhood was out pushing snow and visiting and checking on each other and playing with the children and having FUN! Best Sunday in years!!!

  47. Paul Ritchey says:

    I vote to keep the three-hour block, but replace one hour’s worth of content with something like a welfare session – meeting in small (perhaps geographic) groups to discuss, assign, coordinate, and report on service to the community. I’d even be OK with a – gasp! – four-hour block if it meant we could spend an hour doing that.

  48. stephenchardy says:

    Having worked in Primary, youth, Sunday School, Elders and HPs, let me make a few observations:

    1. The three hour block really is too long for young children. It wouldn’t be too long if it were substantially changed to include snacks and physical activity. “Once There Was A Snowman” and other “fidget” songs are not enough.
    2. I’m pretty sure that, after a good 5 or 8 years had passed, that we would feel the same about 2 hours as we do about three.
    3. Where is that “marginal” hour best used? At home with families? Or at church building our community? It is hard for me to say.
    4. One of the core (and possibly brilliant) practices of Mormonism is the practice of everyone having a calling. When removing an hour then we will run the risk of reducing the number of callings, and this might result in a less engaged congregation. My wife teaches Sunday School. Let me tell you: If she weren’t assigned to be there every week (we are empty nesters) I think that we would miss church a lot more often. I’m not saying that we would be bending our elbows at a tavern, or going shopping. We absolutely would take more weekends off for driving and relaxation, and probably visit family members who live an hour or two away much more often. This would benefit us in some ways, but would weaken our bonds with our ward.

  49. Nevada Grami says:

    Our RS is down to almost nothing because all the sisters have a calling in Primary or YW. Someone, work out a schedule where all women in the ward can attend RS otherwise we do not have a real functioning RS! I am organist in RS and Sacrament Meeting so I skip GD to go to the restroom, get in my car with heater on to warm up from cold church building, have a protein snack, catch my breath, etc. I also miss nothing in GD because I have been to those same lessons for 4 X how many years!!!! Everyone I know would go for 2 hours.

  50. Michael Huff says:

    Love the title and its implications. :)

  51. I “get” that there are those who can’t stand sitting in church for 3 hours once a week. At the same time, I don’t get it. I have no doubt that when I was a young child it seemed like forever (actuallly, as a young child church was all day), but the 3 hours passes quite quickly now in my old age (53).

    Perhaps one day I’ll have more empathy for those for whom 3 hours is a great sacrifice, but as for now . . . (However, for those parents who have children who are truly extremely difficult to handle in church for 3 hours I’m more understanding. Same thing for those who have mental/emotional conditions that make it difficult. And physical/medical conditions. But for those who simply get bored, I say just leave early if you can’t take it and live with your decision).

  52. I don’t think that it’s so much that the 3 hours is a sacrifice, but that 3 hours doesn’t not feel like a positive experience. I’m fine with the gospel asking for sacrifice, but what builds testimonies is eventually seeing the positive upside of the sacrifice. Not sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. I don’t think that flagellating is supposed to be part of the gospel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s