Sacrament Meeting First or Last in Block?

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Sacrament Meeting First or Last in Block?

Postby gregwanderson » Sat Dec 04, 2010 1:22 pm

From my general discussions with friends and family members, it seems like most wards in the church have Sacrament Meeting as the first meeting in their 3-hour block on Sundays. The new handbook lists this option first and there seems to be an implied preference for this. (But, of course, Sacrament Meeting is the last meeting of the block in every ward in our stake.)

Questions: Does anyone know what percentage of wards have Sacrament Meeting first throughout the church? Does anyone know if there has been any research about how attendance is affected by having the meeting first or last in the block? If there is such research, what was found? Are there any other advantages to one schedule over another?

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Postby idjeeper2 » Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:58 pm

Can't answer the questions about research. My personal opinion is that I like Sacrament Meeting first. Mostly because my kids did and now my grandkids do start to get really antsy that third hour. With luck, we can get them to fall asleep. Off hand, I'd say most units in the U.S. probably go with Sacrament first. I haven't been to a lot of meetings overseas but the ones I have gone to did Sacrament last.

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Postby dannykos » Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:58 pm

all I know is that as a parent of young children, my wife has more chance keeping them interested/amused/quiet having sacrament first rather than last. Once they've been through 2 hours of church, trying to get them to sit still for the last hour is nigh on impossible.

Regarding attendance improvements - people who want to be late, will be late regardless of what time sacrament starts.

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Postby crislapi » Sat Dec 04, 2010 3:03 pm

It is evident to me that CHQ prefers a sacrament-meeting first schedule. My observation in my own stake (YSA) is that those with sacrament meeting last have better attendance at the start of sacrament meeting. But based on Mormon-standard time, I imagine the same is true almost everywhere.

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Postby techgy » Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:06 am

The schedule of meetings within a stake is generally decided by the Stake Presidency.
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Postby russellhltn » Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:09 am

GregAnderson wrote:Questions: Does anyone know what percentage of wards have Sacrament Meeting first throughout the church?

No, but since the meeting times are on the public part of LUWS, given enough time (or some scripting), you could compile a list - or at very least a sampling.
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Postby root-p40 » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:40 pm

We have Sacrament Meeting last, and it's always joked about how we're probably the only stake with this schedule. It's good to know we aren't the only ones.
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Postby lajackson » Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:57 pm

root wrote:We have Sacrament Meeting last, and it's always joked about how we're probably the only stake with this schedule. It's good to know we aren't the only ones.

My mother's stake in the Salt Lake area has sacrament meeting last, and I attended another ward on a business trip once, but those are the only two I know of. I am sure there are others, since it was the first option in the former Handbook.

When the three-hour schedule began in 1980, our bishopric, being traditionalists, decided that the only way to go was to have sacrament meeting last. We switched the next week, putting it first, and never looked back.

There are things the Primary can do with the children during the 3rd hour that we could never get away with in sacrament meeting. [grin]

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High Council complete Sunday two hours earlier

Postby kh_design » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:16 am

The previous Handbook did have the first Sunday schedule labeled 'Plan A' having Sacrament meeting last and now 'Plan 1' has Sacrament meeting first. Having been part of a congregation with local units that have been on both schedules, even having the schedule change in some units I have been a part and experiencing both schedules, my personal preference is having Sacrament meeting last. Having said this and knowing it is the Stake Presidency that decides the Sunday schedule for the Stake units, the Stake Presidency and High Council typically prefers Sacrament Meeting first because their Sunday duties involving attending Ward or Branch unit's Sacrament meetings are completed two hours earlier. Sacrament Meeting was changed to be the first meeting of the block in every unit of our Stake years ago when I was the Stake Finance Clerk.

Also as part of the Sunday meeting schedule coordinating the Senior Primary Sharing Time schedule with Aaronic Priesthood and YW class time. This way the youth that turn 12 will attend their Valiant 11 primary class during Sunday School time and will then go to their Deacons Quorum or Beehive class at the time the rest of the senior primary children go to Senior Primary Sharing Time.

I remember wonderfully back in the days when primary was during the week, the school bus would drop us off right at the church on those days. Also Relief Society was during the week and the Sunday schedule was split with Priesthood and Sunday school in the morning and Sacrament Meeting at night. In the winter months we would go to Sacrament meeting after the sun had set, I always loved evening Sacrament meeting during the Christmas season. I remember when the schedule changed to the three hour block time my Mom was so worried about how she was going to keep us kids behaving well for a whole three hours at one time.

Here is another question. For those who are in a Church building that is shared with three (or more) units, how do you rotate your three hour block times, clockwise or counter-clockwise?


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Postby kisaac » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:49 am

GregAnderson wrote:Does anyone know if there has been any research about how attendance is affected by having the meeting first or last in the block?

Are you suggesting some wards may have made the decision based on perceived budget implications? (grin)

To truly track attendance and figure this out, counting your attendance would need to be far more precise and more frequent than what is required for your quarterly report, and would need to span many years. The "key indicators" part of "leader and clerk resources" allows leaders to go back 4 years and chart their own units attendance data, but this data is only a "sampling" of the real picture.

I think such decisions are as much a matter of tradition, logistics and preference as being based on any "attendance data." After all, attendance (or non-attendance) at our meetings is more dependent on our personal commitment then start times. Hold the meeting at 4 AM and those that are committed will do whatever it takes to be there.

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