An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Blocked Out

Much wishful thinking exists in Mormon circles about shortening the 3-hour Sunday meeting block to two hours. Dropping the Sunday School hour is the most common suggestion.

The original idea behind the 3-hour block was to save travel time and expense for members not living within easy walking distance of meetinghouses. Auxiliary activities were to be conducted on a monthly basis. Since Mormons have never bought into the idea that less is more, monthly activities for YM/YW activities—at least in Utah wards—have expanded to a weekly basis. In many wards from two to four enrichment activities each month fill Relief Society sisters’ calendars although attendance at all is not mandatory—except, of course, for the RS presidency. So much for saving time and travel.

I do think the powers-that-be got it wrong when they clumped all auxiliary meetings and sacrament meeting into a Sunday block. What they should have done was drop sacrament meeting. The old 90- minute Sunday School meeting schedule consisted of a half hour for sacrament service, short talks and hymn practice, followed by age-grouped classes. Sacrament meeting was redundant after people had already taken the sacrament in the morning. And as for the SM talks—if members don’t get the message in 30 minutes of worship service followed by an hour of class instruction, something is wrong that another 90 minutes will not fix.

I suggest a Sabbath schedule of Sunday School in the morning followed by family time at home. Congregational hymns were much more musical in the days when we practiced singing on Sunday mornings. Class time could be gender as well as age segregated for those who find Priesthood and Relief Society more useful than Gospel Doctrine class—the lessons really aren’t that different. Wards would find it much easier to staff Primary for one-hour sessions. Retention rate of young adults might improve if kids weren’t subjected to three hours of sitting with arms folded every Sunday. And members might leave church on Sunday feeling uplifted instead of exhausted.

Comments on: "Blocked Out" (2)

  1. I think they should also have a rotating cast of nursery leaders to watch young ones during sacrament. There’s no way to catch sacrament when chasing a one-year-old and his older brother.

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