For many years I have sensed that our Sundays feel rushed. When years ago the evening service was at 6:30 PM, the time between services was more restful. The extra hour turn-around time made a significant difference. During the pandemic we experienced a few Sundays with a 10:00 AM service (to avoid the on-line congestion at 11:00 AM, you may recall). Many of our members loved it. They thought it was ideal.
Shortly after those couple of Sundays we went to two services: 9:00 and 11:00 AM. Again, we received multiple comments especially from our younger families that they loved the extra two hours between services. There were able to linger on the front steps after the early service, were home by 11:00 AM, enjoyed a leisurely lunch, naps, after-nap snack, and then back to church. They far preferred the pace of Sunday made possible by the 9:00 service to that of the regular 11:00 AM.
Attempting to combine the best of both worlds, the Session has approved of altering our Sunday morning schedule beginning September 5. We looked at multiple alternatives and settled on the following:
9:00-9:40 Sunday School
10:00-11:00ish Worship service
The new schedule preserves the advantage of a full hour added to the time between services. It does involve trimming Sunday School by 20 minutes. However, the consensus among your elders was that Sunday School frequently is too long, especially when teachers lecture the full time. The new Sunday School schedule 1) allows five minutes or so to sing and pray and 2) makes on-time arrival more important than ever. We are telling one and all –– start the class at 9:00 sharp, every Sunday, reliably, consistently. Hopefully class participants will figure it out and may make more effort at on-time arrival.
It bears repeating that there is nothing sacred about Sunday School meeting times. Old bulletins provide evidence that at one time or another the morning service was at 11:30 AM, Sunday School at 4:00 PM, and the evening service at 8:00 PM! By way of comparison with local PCA churches, New Covenant in Richmond Hill holds its morning worship at 10:30 AM, Grace Church of the Islands at 10:00 AM, and First Presbyterian Pooler at 11:00 AM.
Worship twice on Sunday is mandatory. Worship morning and evening on Sunday is commanded. However, the times of worship are left to Christian prudence. We trust that these new times are wise, beneficial to young and old alike, all things considered.