Getting to church on time may be a common goal among Salt Lake area residents.
But what "on time" means varies from congregation to congregation.
Worship service starting times could be as early as 8 a.m. Or as late as 6 p.m.
Some churches have even more unusual starting times, like 6:48 p.m. on Saturday.
According to a survey of 50 Salt Lake area churches, 11 a.m. is by far the most-used time for beginning religious services on Sunday. Some 42 percent of the churches surveyed begin worship services at that hour.
The second-most popular time is a tie between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., with 18 percent of the churches beginning services at each one of those two times.
The two other most popular times are 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
There are also some less-common meeting times out there.
For example, Calvary Chapel of Salt Lake starts its first Sunday service of the day at 8 a.m. for early birds. If that's too early, it also has services at 10 a.m. and noon.
St. Ambrose Catholic Church, Christ Lutheran and Redeemer Lutheran all have services commencing as early as 8 a.m.
Hilltop United Methodist also boasts a rather unusual time for its earliest Sunday service 8:15 a.m. Southeast Baptist Church begins at 8:30 a.m., and the Beacon Bible Church has a 9:15 a.m. time for its worship services.
The Berean Baptist Church in Sandy has worship services at 10:45 a.m. and also at 6 p.m.
But probably the most unusual meeting start time though not on a Sunday is 6:48 p.m. Saturday for the Rock Church at 195 W. 2100 South. The church is readily visible from the TRAX station at 2100 South.
The Rock Church in Provo (244 W. 100 South) follows suit, with a Friday meeting start time of 7:24 p.m.
The motto of the Rock Church is "for people interested in God, but not religion" (www.experiencetherock.com). Bill Young, a senior pastor at the Rock Church, said it has three reasons for selecting unusual starting times for services.
"First, we are a 'nontraditional' Bible church, so it seemed to fit," he said. "Second, ... it does catch people's eye. And third, there is significance in the meaning the numbers are related to two Bible verses talking about the wise man who builds his house on 'The Rock' ... who is Jesus Luke 6:48 (and Matthew 7:24)."
As far as being on time, the pastor said, the Salt Lake Rock Church usually begins a little late, just before 7 p.m. The Provo Rock Church almost always starts on time.
Can a church set its morning worship service too early?
Pastor Terry Long said Calvary Chapel of Salt Lake added its 8 a.m. service about six years ago because of crowding at the church's other two services.
"It is the least-attended service," he said, being only about one-third full.
In contrast, the 10 a.m. and noon services at Calvary are two-thirds full. But he said the 8 a.m. service gives those people who help in the other services that day a chance to go to church without those duties.
The Rev. Long also said all three services each Sunday are the same, except that the first one is the tryout.
"The first service is the service that I am trying out all my jokes and stories, and most of the time the first service is a little different in teaching," he said.
This survey of church meeting times didn't include congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which commonly has two or more wards meeting in the same building. The most common formula used for the three-hour LDS "block time" is probably the 9 a.m. start time. However, there are also many block times that commence at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m.There are variations, too, in block starting times. Some wards begin at 9:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m., while others start at 11:30 a.m. or later, depending on how many wards are in the same building, how far they are staggered apart and the local needs.
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