LDS Church Growth: A Large New Chapel in Queensland
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called Mormons, in Queensland, Australia, are building a new church, the largest ever built in the area.
It will be built in Ipswitch and was approved by the city council in early March, 2013. The building will serve as a stake center and will serve 3500 people. A stake is similar to a Catholic diocese and contains a number of congregations within a geographical region. The building will house administrative offices for both congregational and stake leaders, a recreational hall, a chapel, a small kitchen for reheating food, and classrooms. Many stake centers also house free genealogical research centers that are open to the public. Stake boundaries include a number of congregational buildings, so all 3500 people are not meeting in the stake center. However, typically one to three congregations will meet there, with the remainder coming only for meetings, conferences, and special activities.
Mormon meeting houses are open to the public, and anyone may attend the Sunday services held there. Mormons meet for three hours each Sunday. The time is spent in a traditional worship service with prayers, music, and sermons, as well as the passing and partaking of the sacrament, which is the Mormon term for communion. In addition, everyone ages twelve and older attends Sunday School. Following Sunday School there are meetings for teens and adults that are gender-based and age-based. The children attend Primary, which consists of age-divided classes. In addition to their class time, the children gather together in a larger mixed-age group to sing religious children’s songs and to have a participation-based lesson on an annual theme. Once a year, they present a program during the regular worship service to demonstrate what they’ve learned. During the week there are activities for older children and for teenagers. Some buildings also host an early morning religion class for high school students and weekly evening classes for young adults. Other congregational auxiliaries may hold periodic meetings as well. Most buildings are busy just one evening a week, making it a quiet addition to the neighborhood.
Mormon temples, in contrast, are not open to the general public and are closed on Sundays. No regular worship services are held in those buildings, which are used for special ordinances.
The first Mormon missionary in Australia was a seventeen-year-old who had recently joined the church in England. A year later, a missionary from Scotland joined him and in 1944, a small congregation was formed. One notable convert from Australia was Joseph Ridges. He immigrated to the United States and built the famed organ for the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Emigration of Mormon converts declined in the 1950s, which helped the church’s growth in Australia. The first church building was built in 1904 in Brisbane, and the first temple in Sydney in 1984. Today, there are 132,392 members in Australia in 285 congregations. There are five temples serving these members.
The Mormons have donated more than AUD4.2 million in humanitarian aid to Australia, including help during the bush fires of 1993, the provision of food for drought-stricken farmers, and assistance during Cyclone Larry in Queensland.