ALL the News about
Mormons, Mormonism
and the LDS Church
Mormon News: All the News about Mormons, Mormonism and the LDS Church
Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended January 26, 2001
Most Recent Week
Front Page
Local News
Arts & Entertainment
·New Products
·New Websites
·Mormon Stock Index
Letters to Editor
Continuing Coverage of:
Boston Temple
School Prayer
Julie on MTV
Robert Elmer Kleasen
About Mormon News
News by E-Mail
Weekly Summary
Submitting News
Submitting Press Releases
Volunteer Positions
Bad Link?

News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 22Jan01

By Kent Larsen

Maine Branch Faces Zoning Controversy

NORTH YARMOUTH, MAINE -- The Yarmouth branch has grown from 40 members to 150 in the past eight years, and now it is trying to build a chapel. But the building's neighbors are objecting, saying the building is too large for the community and that its construction seems to be controlled by far-off officials in Salt Lake City.

Currently, the branch meets in the North Yarmouth Congregational Church, packing the small building every week for meetings. "We are using every room that is available," says longtime branch member Jean Bibber.

But some neighbors say that the building is simply too large for a small rural community. "They are going to build this giant facility that is not for anybody in our community, and plunk it down in the middle of our community," says neighbor John Williams, "It doesn't seem right." The proposed 13,000-square-foot meetinghouse would be one of the largest buildings in North Yarmouth, which has just three LDS families.

But local LDS leaders note that North Yarmouth is the geographical center of the branch, which extends from North Deering to Freeport and upper New Gloucester, a distance of more than 15 miles. Yarmouth Branch President Reed Quinn says he chose the building's design from two prototypes that Salt Lake officials told him he could use. The design, called "Heritage 98 Traditional," is expandable to 17,000 square feet on a single story, including 15 classrooms and a nearly full-sized basketball court. He says the building is the right size for the congregation, because of all the congregation's activities and because of the nature of LDS worship.

Neighbor Debra Spark, who lives next door to the proposed site, says that religion doesn't enter into the neighbor's objections, "I'm Jewish," she said. "I'm the last person to object to [Mormons]." Her husband, Gary Mitchell, says the size of the building seems too large for the congregation. "I hope they are a little embarrassed by it," he said. "It seems to be a move to dominate the landscape, for a relatively small group of people at the moment."

Some of the congregation's efforts to help neighbors understand may have backfired, however. The branch invited neighbors to the Congregational Church they meet in and showed a video about the construction of Mormon chapels and how they helped improve neighborhoods. But some residents became nervous because of the video's "slick" production, which convinced them the project was being controlled by Salt Lake City. "It wouldn't be that way if it was a Lutheran or Congregational church," Williams said.

The problems with the Yarmouth building are not unusual, since the LDS Church is now opening a new chapel every two days somewhere in the world. The well-known conflict over the Boston Temple has been repeated in several local areas as neighbors have objected to LDS buildings. In Maine, the LDS Church has chapels in Cape Elizabeth, Windham, Oxford, Cornish, Topsham, Augusta, Winthrop, Belfast, Rockland and Damariscotta, serving a statewide population of about 8,500 members.

The proposed building will go to the North Yarmouth Planning Board for review next month, but since the zoning allows construction of a church on the lot, the board will probably be limited to issues like parking and lighting. Branch president Quinn hopes construction will begin in April.

The Portland Press Herald article also gives a thorough description of the LDS Church and its history, including the demanding nature of LDS beliefs. These demands contrast significantly with mainstream religions. Bangor Theology Seminary professor Glenn Miller says that mainstream religions are "flabby in every way." "Many people feel that mainstream churches don't stand for anything or make a difference in their lives," he says.


Blessings &battles
Portland ME Press Herald 21Jan01 D1
By Tom Bell: Portland Press Herald Writer


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information