Over the weekend, it was announced that Sunday church services will no longer be three hours, but only two. I have been waiting and hoping for this change for years (and suspecting it for the last six months), and when it was announced, the kids and I (Jeremy was out of town) literally jumped up and down for joy.
I recognize that there are other Mormons (don’t @ me) out there somewhere who are unsure or even upset about this change. I am so glad they have loved three hour church and I don’t begrudge them their feelings a bit, but it was noted in the announcement that this change to two hours benefits many key demographics of church attendees (practically all of them), including families with small children, small children themselves, the elderly and ill, etc.
I firmly believe I will benefit from this change as a parent of small children, but I also believe I will benefit as a human being, particularly an introverted one.Depending on the ward and what stage of life I’ve been in, as well as what church assignment I’ve held, three hours of church has been moderately to very difficult for me. It has sometimes been something that I have had to gear myself up for all week and then, on my day of rest, struggled to get through. Three-hour church was always there waiting for me at the end of a long raising-kids week, or a long work-week, and I would come home from it feeling exponentially more exhausted than I did before.
Some of this exhaustion stemmed from practical matters like three hours of not being able to pee, eat, or drink when needed due to rushing between classes/callings, often manifesting itself in a post-church headache that lasted the rest of the day. Sometimes it’s been wrestling tiny nursing/crawling/toddling/fussy babies outside of the home for three hours (this is a sisyphean task even on a good day). But mostly, and most consistently over the years, three hour church has been hard on my introvert soul because I can’t just be alone to recharge for a hot second. And three hours is a long time to ask an introvert to be around other people, interacting, draining her batteries, on a day that is ostensibly meant for resting and recharging.
In recent years, I have worked harder to take a breather between lessons and I’ve even made a point of visiting the bathroom or kitchen more regularly. This has been easier to do in Finland where more generous breaks between meetings are built in - they don’t rush to their classes here like they do in the US or even the UAE! I have also occasionally spent the middle hour of church in a quiet room by myself, preparing a lesson, reading the scriptures, or just being alone.
So I welcome this change to a 2-hour worship block and I hope it proves to be a positive thing for all, or at least most. There is a strong tradition of Doing Things Because They’re Hard in the church and while there is always a time and place for building character, in this case, I think three hours at church is not it.