“The Church provides meetinghouses so that all who enter can:
Meet together (see 3 Nephi 18:22–23).
Teach and minister to one another (see Moroni 6:4–5).
Participate in other approved uses as described in chapter 35 of the General Handbook.
A meetinghouse can take different forms depending on local circumstances and needs” (General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 35.1).
“In order to strengthen the Church, areas prepare long-term master plans before making decisions to add or redeploy meetinghouse space” (Principles and Guidelines for Providing Meetinghouses , ChurchofJesusChrist.org). The following principles and guidelines will help area staff as they support area and stake priesthood leaders in accomplishing this purpose.
Strengthening the Church through adjusting unit size and boundaries falls under the responsibility of the priesthood leadership as directed by the Area Presidency. Changes to unit boundaries may also improve utilization of meetinghouses.
“Before providing additional meetinghouse space, leaders ensure that available meetinghouses within a reasonable travel time are being utilized to their capacity” (Principles and Guidelines for Providing Meetinghouses). Meetinghouse capacity includes both the number of members (attendance capacity) and the number of units (unit capacity) a meetinghouse can accommodate. In areas of shifting membership, redeployment (disposal or change of use) of underutilized meetinghouses and properties may be considered.
Forecasting membership and attendance growth is critical to develop an effective and suitable meetinghouse master plan. Membership and attendance projections should be calculated according to the approved methodology.
Any meeting facility should be placed in the most appropriate location to effectively house the optimal number of members, independent of stake boundaries. Understanding the growth trends, migration patterns, and available transportation is necessary to strategically place meetinghouses.
“Area and local leaders seek economically appropriate, long-term, and sustainable solutions to meetinghouse needs” (Principles and Guidelines for Providing Meetinghouses).
Areas should consider all possible options compatible with local conditions. Appropriate solutions may include a member’s home; a local school or community center; a leased facility; a Church-constructed, purchased, or reconfigured space; or other options.
Priesthood leaders should consider the following when determining how many wards occupy a meetinghouse:
Sunday meeting schedules begin at a reasonable time and end by mid-afternoon to enable all families to study the gospel at home.
Members live within an appropriate travel time to the meetinghouse.
Adjustments to the meetinghouse, if needed, are minor and low cost.
Areas apply meetinghouse planning principles and develop five-year master plans before making decisions to add or redeploy meetinghouse space.
Master plans may be created at the multistake or coordinating council level when:
Sharing opportunities exist between current or proposed facilities across multiple stakes.
Boundary realignments could affect multiple stakes.
Projected growth and utilization indicate the need for new space.
Shifting membership has created excess space that can be redeployed.
Area planning managers work with Area Seventies and relevant stake presidents to prepare recommendations for Area Presidency approval.
When considering a need for adding or redeploying meetinghouse space that is not included in a multistake or coordinating council master plan, the area planning manager works with the corresponding stake president to prepare recommendations for Area Presidency approval.
New space or redeployment projects identified in the planning process may be submitted as part of the annual plan or through the additional approval process.
The Area Presidency provides guidance for strategies, decisions, and desired outcomes of meetinghouse planning. The Area Presidency identifies specific areas of concern, instructs Area Seventies on doctrine and principles, and approves master planning priorities and final recommendations.
The Area Seventy teaches doctrine and principles to stake and mission presidents and also counsels with area staff. The Area Seventy, stake presidents, and mission presidents review and provide feedback on meetinghouse master plans. They submit any unit boundary changes to the Area Presidency for review.
The Director for Temporal Affairs (DTA) and area staff provide ecclesiastical leaders with accurate data, reports, analysis, and recommendations. In alignment with the Area Presidency’s direction and the Area Meetinghouse Program, the area planning manager prepares five-year master plans, which include items from coordinating council, multistake, and stake-level planning. The planning manager collaborates with priesthood leaders to make informed decisions and finalize recommendations.
Note: The term stake presidency also refers to the district presidency.