SALT LAKE CITY — Mormons will start spending less time at church each Sunday – two hours instead of three – after a change announced Saturday aimed at making worship more manageable for members around the globe.

The change, which takes effect in January, is a significant one for Mormons, who since 1980 have been expected to attend all three hours each Sunday to be considered active members of the faith.

The news triggered widespread applause from members, with some posting celebratory memes on social media.

It came during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ twice-yearly conference, where a leader also reaffirmed the faith’s opposition to gay marriage and its belief that one’s gender is God-given and for eternity.

“The senior leaders of the church have been aware for many years that for some of our precious members, a three-hour Sunday schedule at church can be difficult,” said Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, church leaders who help run the faith.

“This is particularly true for parents with small children, primary children, elderly members, new converts and others.”

The three-hour commitment is a hefty one compared with some other religions’ Sunday services.

Many Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches, for instance, offer weekly worship that lasts about an hour or an hour and a half, along with voluntary classes and other gatherings throughout the week.

Church president Russell M. Nelson called the adjustment a new “home-centered church” strategy that comes as the faith expands throughout the world.

More than half of its 16 million members live outside the U.S. and Canada.

“The longstanding objective of the church is to assist all members to increase their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and in his atonement,” Nelson said.

“In this complex world today, this is not easy. The adversary is increasing his attack on faith and on families at an exponential rate. To survive spiritually, we need counter-strategies and proactive plans,” he said.

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