Mor­mons switch­ing to shorter wor­ship ser­vices

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - NATION - By BRady McCombs

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.

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