Saturday, January 3, 2009

9am Block Meeting Schedule

While the New Year brings out the Martinelli's Sparkling Cider and resolutions, possibly the most important change for Mormons throughout the world is one that rocks the foundations of their weekly schedules to its core. For some, it will determine their level of activity for the 365 days to come. In the late fall, Latter Day Saints wait in breathless anticipation of the coming year's block schedule announcement. Mormons utter some of their most fervent prayers to win the scheduling lottery, specifically, one magical time. We speak, of course, of the 9am block meeting schedule.

Faithful Latter Day Saints enjoy cohesion and order in their religion, and barring the exotic scheduling of low LDS population densities back east, and the high LDS population densities in Utah, if you are Mormon, you go to church at either 9am, 11am, or 1pm. While there is some room for debate in terms of personal or family taste, the 9am block schedule remains the most popular time for Saints to gather to worship. This largely is based on the unofficial family rule that piety and spiritual activities should be observed at least until after church. With the 9am schedule, piety and spirituality are squeezed in between bowls of Cap'n Crunch and Lucky Charms and the whirlwind rush to prepare 4-9 small children for church. After a refreshing dose of spiritual nurturing at church, happy families rush home in time to catch the next showing of RV starring Robin Williams on TBS, or even an entire NFL game in the afternoon. Those unfortunate souls who must endure until 1pm struggle to find nourishment beyond a marathon of Living Scriptures VHS tapes, re-runs of Veggie Tales, and a healthy dose of old EFY or Kenneth Cope albums.

The unofficial ending point of most fasts on fast sunday? Ask the average Saint, and they'll tell you enthusiastically "Why, after church of course!" Enthusiastically, that is, unless they have to endure the crucible of fasting until 4:00pm. The 9am block offers a snack size bit of fasting for faithful Saints, the 1pm block, a gruelling test, likely to actually yield spiritual benefits.

The 9am block also has other benefits. For example, at that early hour, it is almost expected that families with small children will arrive 5-10 minutes late, MST, or Mormon Standard Time. At the 1pm block, those same families will still arrive 5-10 minutes late, the difference being the occasional chastisement they will recieve from the bishopric. "We encourage our ward members," the bishop will say "to try to arrive at our meetings on time. It's not as though we are meeting during the 9am block."


9 comments:

Th. said...

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Curiously, we just had a big discussion about this and we all agreed 11 was the best time. Sorry.

Matt said...

Eleven is absolutely the best time. Nine am church ruins Saturday night video game binges.

Steve said...

Hmmmmm, dissent among the ranks.

To Th.: I can't really add my two cents to that conversation, but I'd love to know what the rationale was for 11am block meetings. I think I did leave a caveat that it was somewhat up in the air between 9 and 11, but I have to give it to 9am for the fasting issue alone.

To Matt: You've missed the obvious! Late night Saturday game binge, THEN sleep through sacrament as you are sitting up. THEN you still have the whole day ahead after 12!

To all: Can we at least agree that any meeting times 1pm and after are the absolute worst?

Th. said...

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It has to do with the nap times of small children. But even taking small children out of the question, I would say 10:30 is ideal.

Now if I could only find a ward that meets then.....

Mollie said...

Um... for all you 1 pm haters - try a 2:30 schedule. We just started a 2:30-5:30 schedule, and I want to poke my eyeballs out. Last week we got home close to 6 pm. I'm just glad that we'll be home in time to catch Jack Bauer. Nothing like a good block of church followed by some Jack Bauer....
It's going to be a long year.. sigh....

adam_says said...

I agree. 9 am is best. My family has been meeting at 8 AM for church during 08 so my visits home rarely lasted for the whole weekend. (I'm away at school). For 09 my family gets to enjoy church starting at 3 PM. My visits will be even less frequent. Especially on fast sundays.

Terri H said...

Too funny! I never really had much thought of this when I first joined the church. As a single mom to then a 7 year old it was just great!!

10 years later and desperately trying to get now 4 year old twins up and out and down for nap and some where remain in the uplifted state, 9 am is best!! 11 is tolerable & Lord bless the singles ward for taking the late sessions!!

FelixAndAva said...

1pm wards are great for situations like mine, with a swing-shift worker husband who cannot get functional early enough for morning meetings. Asking someone whose sleep hours are 4am to 12noon to attend 9am meetings is like asking people on a normal circadian to attend meetings at about 5am.

Having been in Nursery/Primary in afternoon wards, I do sympathize with parents of small children about the messed-up nap schedule.

Hali said...

I've been going to Singles' Ward at 11 recently and I'm quite enjoying it. I hated the 9 block because it absolutely killed any hope of sleeping in. I will agree, however, that 1 is indeed the worst.