Mormons switching to shorter worship services
SALT LAKE CITY — Mormons will start spending less time at church each Sunday — two hours instead of three — after a change announced Saturday aimed at making worship more manageable for members around the globe.
The switch, which takes effect in January, is a significant one for Mormons, who since 1980 have been expected to attend all three hours each Sunday to be considered active members of the faith.
The news triggered widespread applause from members, with some posting celebratory memes on social media. It came during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ twice-yearly conference, where a leader also reaffirmed the faith’s opposition to gay marriage and its belief that gender is God-given and eternal.
“The senior leaders of the church have been aware for many years that for some of our precious members, a three-hour Sunday schedule at church can be difficult,” said Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, church leaders who help run the faith. “This is particularly true for parents with small children, primary children, elderly members, new converts and others.”
The three-hour commitment is a hefty one compared with some other religions’ Sunday services. Many Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches, for instance, offer weekly worship that lasts about an hour or an hour and a half.
Church president Russell M. Nelson called the adjustment a new “home-centered church” strategy that comes as the faith expands throughout the world. More than half of its 16 million members live outside the U.S. and Canada.
Church membership growth has decreased in recent years, with membership growth in 2017 being the slowest in 80 years, according to independent Mormon researcher Matt Martinich.