“Providing Meetinghouses and Other Places of Worship,” Providing Meetinghouses and Other Places of Worship (2021)
“Providing Meetinghouses and Other Places of Worship,” Providing Meetinghouses and Other Places of Worship
As new meetinghouse space is considered, Church leaders and employees apply these guiding principles:
Self-reliance—We strive to support sustainable long-term growth for the Church. Each Church area should have the goal of becoming temporally self-reliant.
Accessibility—We ensure essential gospel teachings, resources, and services are accessible to all. Mature areas should assist less self-reliant areas.
Wise stewardship—We are wise stewards of sacred resources. We consider how decisions will impact members’ daily lives and the affordability of Church participation.
Area and local priesthood leaders strive to apply the principles explained in the Principles and Guidelines for Meetinghouse Planning document before recommending additional space.
All meetinghouses should have features that support the worship experience and programs of the Church. These include space for general assembly, teaching, and activities. Local conditions—including unit sizes and leadership—may require adaptation when providing meetinghouses.
A meeting facility may be a member’s home, a local school or community center, leased space, Church-constructed or purchased space, or other options. Each of these could be long-term solutions for units of all sizes, as approved by the Area Presidency. The use of technology, such as audiovisual equipment, may facilitate such adaptation.
Area and local leaders try to wisely extend the use of meetinghouses before requesting additional space. Space should be provided after considering the maximum attendance or the number of units in the building, as well as resources outside of ward or stake boundaries within travel times defined by the Area Presidency. Church employees in the area, working with local leaders, will make recommendations to maximize the use of Church resources, independent of stake boundaries.
Area and local leaders seek an economically appropriate, long-term, and sustainable solution to meetinghouse needs. New space should present an image of reverence and dignity, be modest, and be compatible with the design and appearance of its local surroundings. It should also use locally available materials, equipment, and furnishings where appropriate. The process for providing and operating meetinghouse space should help strengthen Church self-reliance in the area.
Local leaders and members should not influence business dealings for Church properties. For example, they are not authorized to negotiate the purchase or lease of property or to make any commitments that obligate spending general Church funds. Exceptions must be approved in writing by the area office or the Meetinghouse Facilities Department.
To strengthen members of the Church, areas prepare long-term meetinghouse master plans. These plans include decisions to add or redeploy (i.e., remove) meetinghouse space. Long-term meetinghouse master planning supports the area plan to strengthen families, members, and units by providing meetinghouses in a simple and affordable way. This is done by using resources wisely, considering the impact of meetinghouse decisions on strengthening Church members, and providing space appropriate to local conditions.
Under the direction of the Area Presidency, the Area Seventy, the director for temporal affairs, and area staff present meetinghouse recommendations to priesthood leaders, work unitedly with them to resolve concerns, and create a final meetinghouse proposal to be included in the master plan. This can be done in a coordinating council meeting with the assigned stake presidents. The stake presidency may need to provide information to the Area Presidency that will assist the director for temporal affairs in preparing and updating a master plan.
For more information, priesthood leaders should review the Meetinghouse Master Planning Guidelines booklet.
Meetinghouse space is funded through the Meetinghouse Facilities annual plan. Area Presidencies submit their annual plans to the Budget and Appropriations Committee through the Presiding Bishopric.
Some factors that affect planning future meetinghouses and other spaces for worship include the characteristics of typical Church units in the area; past growth rate and patterns; projected growth; planned unit divisions; and the size, location, and extent of existing building use.
The area office considers several options to determine the most appropriate way to meet the need for more worship space. Those options include modifying local unit programs, sharing space with other Church units, reconfiguring existing space, constructing an addition to existing space, leasing space, purchasing an existing building, or constructing a new meetinghouse.
The Church is selective in accepting donations of real property. If someone wants to donate real property to the Church, local priesthood leaders contact the area office. For those in the United States or Canada, call the Real Estate Services Division in the Meetinghouse Facilities Department at 1-801-240-5685 or 1-800-453-3860.
Local leaders do not accept or issue receipts for donated real property. Real property donations or bequests should be offered without stipulated conditions as to their use or disposition.
Church area employees have prepared standard meetinghouse architectural plans to fit local circumstances and needs. When a new meetinghouse is to be constructed, a suitable standard plan is selected. That plan outlines the policies for the rooms, features, and equipment to be included in these places of worship.
When all criteria for building a new meetinghouse are met and a proposed construction project is validated, placed on the annual plan, funded, and scheduled, the meetinghouse project moves into the project development phase.
At the appropriate time during project development, the project manager, in consultation with the facilities manager, meets with the stake presidency to review and select from available style options in the standard plans. The option of holding a groundbreaking service may also be discussed. The facilities manager provides the stake presidency with periodic updates throughout the development process.
When the project development phase is complete, the area office awards the construction contract. With the assistance of the facilities manager, the project manager conducts a preconstruction meeting with stake leaders and the contractor. Those at the meeting review their respective roles, finalize style options and furnishings according to the local area’s standard plan, and review the project schedule.
When the construction project is completed, the project manager formally “delivers” the building or the addition to the facilities manager. The facilities manager plans and manages the deep cleaning and maintenance procedures and performs all other tasks necessary to prepare the building for use.
The facilities manager conducts an orientation meeting and walk-through for local leaders. He gives initial instructions on the various building systems to the stake and ward building representatives. He provides keys to local leaders and reviews cleaning schedules and member participation.
For new meetinghouse leases, local leaders consult the area meetinghouse facilities planning manager to determine qualifications. Lease costs are paid from the facilities management group’s operational budget.
For meetinghouse lease renewals, local leaders consult with the facilities manager, who will facilitate the request. A temporary facility may be leased in cases where existing meetinghouses are unable to accommodate wards during a meetinghouse renovation.
The area office negotiates the terms for all lease agreements.
Temporary facilities may be rented at the Church’s expense when available space will not adequately accommodate a stake activity, such as stake and regional conferences, firesides, indoor sports, or multicultural activities. Alternative solutions, including holding multiple sessions or using technology (such as broadcasts), should be considered before renting temporary facilities.
If a temporary facility becomes necessary, local leaders consult with the facilities manager to arrange for the necessary contract or agreement. The facilities manager then submits the agreement and a “Request for Temporary Leased Facility” form to the area office. Requests should be submitted well before the need. When these procedures are followed, rental costs are paid from general Church funds.
Facilities for outdoor sports activities are rented at the local unit’s expense.
After a new building project is approved, the Area Presidency may allow a groundbreaking service in preparation for the construction. This service is not to be held on Sunday. The stake president involved consults with the Area Seventy for direction.
Final approval for dedication is given by the Area Presidency in coordination with the director for temporal affairs. The Area Presidency works with the stake or mission president and indicates who is responsible for dedicating the building.
The program for a dedicatory service should be in keeping with the purpose of the event. It should not be lengthy or include extensive musical presentations. Sufficient time should be provided for the assigned leader to speak and to dedicate the building.
Following the dedicatory prayer, there should be an appropriate hymn or musical selection and a short prayer to close the service.
Dedicatory prayers of buildings may be recorded with permission from the presiding authority.
Leased meetinghouses may be dedicated if all the following conditions are met:
All leased space, excluding necessary common areas (such as entries, hallways, and restrooms), is used exclusively by the Church.
The lease is for more than one year.
The Area Presidency approves of dedicating the leased meetinghouse.
If these conditions are met and the meetinghouse is dedicated, the dedicatory prayer must include the language that the meetinghouse is dedicated “for the period of the lease.”