For the past few years, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have speculated, “Is this the General Conference when they’ll finally announce 2-hour church?” If you’re not Mormon, that most likely doesn’t mean anything. If you are Mormon, it’s a very big deal. And now, it’s becoming a reality.
Since 1980, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have adhered to something called the “three-hour block”. Each Sunday service has consisted of a 70-minute “sacrament meeting” followed by Sunday school and a third hour for more age and gender specific instruction.
On Saturday, as part of the first session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference, Mormon apostle Quentin Cook announced that the Sunday church structure will change starting next January.
“The Sunday Church meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament meeting each Sunday, focused on the Savior, the ordinance of the sacrament and spiritual messages,” Cook said. “After time for transition to classes, Church members will attend a 50-minute class that will alternate each Sunday.”
Church President Russell M. Nelson said this change comes in order to make worship a more home-centered experience.
“As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of ‘church’ as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home,” Nelson said. “We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for home-centered church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.”
Leaders also encouraged Church members to use their newfound free time to hold small group bible studies and discuss spiritual topics.
The news rippled across social media on Saturday.
“This is a huge change from the Church's policy in the 1990s that discouraged study groups and directed such study to happen only individually and in families,” Mormon writer Jana Riess said in a tweet.
This story will be updated.