View Full Version : When did Wednesday start to be church day for Christians?

12-18-2006, 06:24 AM
At my job, I have to arrange night meetings with different cities and towns, to discuss their comprehensive plans. In the past year, Wednesday has become an off-limits day for holding night meetings. Why? "It's church night, of course!"

Growing up Lutheran in heavily Catholic Buffalo, I never heard about church on Wednesday. In the various cities where I've lived, same thing: church services were held on Sunday, with the popular Saturday night services for Catholics. I never heard of church on Wednesday until I moved to northeast Ohio. When I tell others about it, the response is generally along the lines of "Well, duh!", as if I told them I didn't know people went to church on Sunday.

So, when did Wednesday become church night for so many? It is just a Cleveland thing, or is it now the norm for Protestant Christians in the US?

12-18-2006, 07:30 AM
Never heard of it. I've lived in Philadelphia, Miami, Houston and several countries other than the USA.

When I worked the weekend shift plus Tuesdays and went to Mom's on Wednesdays, I went to Mass on Thursdays... but that was a "me" thing and due to Thursday being the only day I didn't have any other obligations.

12-18-2006, 07:37 AM
I first learned about this not that long ago in the South East. I had the same WTF reaction. Never found out why though.

12-18-2006, 08:00 AM
It's a purely Protestant thing, by the way. Catholic churches with adequate staff will attempt to hold daily Mass, but Wednesday is nothing out of the ordinary.

The reason is purely one of convenience -- it's a midweek service, almost precisely halfway between Sunday mornings (3.5 days interval either side). So if you are going to schedule a service other than on Sunday, it's the ideal time to have one. And if you want to have church-group meetings tied to a worship service, kill two birds with one stone, and schedule a midweek service and the meetings before or after it.

12-18-2006, 08:12 AM
A Wednesday evening service is standard in the Protestant South.

12-18-2006, 08:27 AM
I've always associated it with the Baptists. Seems all my Baptist students have some church activity or another scheduled for Wednesday night. Never any other denomination, to my recollection.

12-18-2006, 08:33 AM
I thought Wednesday night services were a staple of church life.

I'm from northeast Ohio, if it matters.

12-18-2006, 08:42 AM
Most Baptist and Evangelical Christian churches that I'm aware of, both east coast and west coast, have Wednesday night services. I've been to them in California, Ohio, Atlanta and Florida.

Jeez, I've been to church in a lot of places.

12-18-2006, 08:52 AM
My church moved the Sunday night contemporary service to Wednesday nights a couple of years ago. I'm thinking it was simple picking the night most likely to have a high attendance. Monday and Tuesday are too close to Sunday, while Thursday tends to be a social night for many workplaces as well as a big night for television. Most churches I've been to have a more relaxed atmosphere at the Wednesday night service and the congregation tends to be a bit younger.

12-18-2006, 09:27 AM
I thought Wednesday night services were a staple of church life.

I'm from northeast Ohio, if it matters.

Same here.

Beware of Doug
12-18-2006, 09:37 AM
When I last attended public school (Iowa, early 1980s), I assumed Wednesday was the night for church youth groups. Didn't know it was part of any denomination, altho our district was probably 75% mainstream Protestant and another 20% Holy Joe.

12-18-2006, 10:01 AM
I grew up in South Dakota, and Wednesday nights were always 'Church Night', and there were no activities related to school (such as sports, besides practices) pretty much statewide. In fact, the calendar included with the monthly school bulletin had all Wednesdays marked as 'Church Night'.

South Dakota has more Lutherans and Catholics than other denominations, and I know that for those (and others), it was used for religious education (at the junior high-high school level, mostly).

12-18-2006, 10:17 AM
I grew up in the Cleveland area and this is the first time I'm hearing about it on a widespread level....and I'm a regular church-goer. Thursday is always choir practice night, though!

Relatively few churches around here have mid-week services. A few have contemporary services and I suppose some of them are held on Wednesdays, but not to the extent that it would have a big impact on secular scheduling. I suspect it may be more a tradition in Baptist churches, though I'm basing that on the one Baptist family I'm friends with....and that is more their Awana night, which I think is like an intensive Sunday School for the kids. I suppose if there is a large concentration of Baptists in your area then it may be tradtional to schedule around that night. But us United Methodists don't block that day out permanently.

Now with the rise of the mega-church in our area, I could see where they might be under pressure to forsake all planning meetings to attend services....there seems to be a lot of pressure in those churches in general (and again I base this on an isolated experience with one family who was told they weren't pledging enough money, so kindly find another church).

But on a whole, I have never noticed this phenomenom in all my years in churches and school systems. In fact, the sports circuit around here is notorious for scheduling things for Sunday morning, which used to be sacrosanct even if you didn't attend church.

12-18-2006, 10:56 AM
Come down south. Almost every Protestant church has Wednesday night services. Mostly a Baptist thing, but several non-Baptists groups have services as well.

12-18-2006, 11:08 AM
I grew up in Texas. My family was Methodist, and our church did nothing special on Wednesdays. However, Wednesday evening services seemed nearly universal among the local Baptist* churches, of which there were many. Wednesday was "off the table" when setting the practice schedules in the local youth soccer league, for example, and the reason why did not normally need to be explicitly mentioned in conversation; it was considered common knowledge.

* - Other denominations may well have done it, as well, but like silenus it's a practice I most strongly associated with Baptists.

12-18-2006, 11:10 AM
Only Wednesday that's important that I can think of is Ash Wednesday. Other than that, unless a Holy Day of Obligation happens to fall on a Wednesday, nope, not really.

12-18-2006, 11:13 AM
I've heard Wedensday night services called "prayer meetings." I've never been to one, but I often see a gaggle of cars outside churches on Wednights. Seems to be a smaller crowd than on Sunday morning.

12-18-2006, 11:15 AM
I grew up as a Baptist in Texas in the 1960s and 70s, and Wednesday night services were a staple. My recollection of those services were much more pleasant that either Sunday morning or Sunday night (yes, we sometimes went to services three times a week). Wednesdays were casual dress, laid back, and shorter.

I'm not sure what went wrong with all that church and made me turn into a staunch atheist.

Qadgop the Mercotan
12-18-2006, 05:25 PM
Wednesday night services are pretty much standard for most of the Calvinist denominations in my area.

12-18-2006, 05:28 PM
All of my churches (Baptist, Disciples of Christ) have had youth groups and Bible studies on Wednesday nights, not actual services. I understand that my grandparents' church does have a Wed. evening service though.

All of these were in California.

12-18-2006, 06:10 PM
By the 1890's-1900, Wednesday evening prayer meetings/services were common all over the U.S., although as others have said, they were most common among the Protestant denominations. But certainly not limited to Baptists.

12-19-2006, 03:30 AM
My mother has been going to choir practice at her catholic church every Wednesday night since 1949. Religious instruction for adult converts was also on Wednesday evenings. As were Knights of Columbus sessions, Daughters of Isabella meetings, etc.

There wasn't an actual Mass on Wednesday night, but nearly all the other church groups met on that night. Presumably because it's midweek, and a good time for meetings. Plus this was standard enough in the Midwest that many other community groups avoided any meetings or functions on Wednesday night, because they would lose attendance -- Wednesday was always "church night".

Governor Quinn
12-19-2006, 11:05 PM
No evening services at the Cathedral on Wednesday night (there is one in the morning), but the Cathedral Choir practices then.

Northern California Episcopalian

theater in a crowded fire
12-20-2006, 10:32 AM
I've always thought of Wednesday night as a church night, but maybe it's primarily a southern thing (I'm in Mississippi). I grew up Southern Baptist and there was always a service on Wednesday evening (though we didn't go regularly).
I'm now a member of the local Church of Christ and Wednesday evening is Bible study night. We don't have a formal service, but rather a brief devotional and then classes for the various age groups. The kids do the typical run around, play games and learn Bible stories type stuff they do in Sunday school. The adult classes tend to be a bit more single topic focused (either a study of a particular book or a particular subject) than is usually done on Sunday morning.