“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). The following principles and guidelines will help area and stake leaders accomplish this purpose according to the needs of members in their area.
Note: In this section, the term stake presidencies refers also to district presidencies.
Members of the Church live in a variety of political, social, and economic conditions. Wards and branches also vary in size and leadership resources. These and other conditions may require local adaptation when providing appropriate meetinghouses.
All meetinghouses should have essential features that support the worship experience and programs of the Church. These include space for general assembly, teaching, and activities. Other appropriate features may be included at the discretion of the Area Presidency. Area leaders exercise wise judgment when adapting approved meetinghouse designs to local needs and conditions.
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 based on local conditions. Each of these could be considered appropriate, long-term solutions. The use of technology, such as audiovisual equipment, may facilitate such adaptation.
Area and local priesthood leaders strive, when possible, to fully utilize meetinghouses and be prudent in recommending additional space. Meetinghouse space could be provided when increased attendance exceeds the capacity of existing facilities.
Area and local leaders seek economically appropriate, long-term, and sustainable solutions 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.
Before providing additional meetinghouse space, leaders ensure that available meetinghouses within a reasonable travel time are being utilized to their capacity. Meetinghouses are part of the Lord’s storehouse and should be utilized independent of stake boundaries. Area facilities personnel can help leaders identify available meetinghouse space.
Each area determines how much travel time to a meetinghouse is reasonable for members; this is generally not more than 30 to 45 minutes for the majority of members in a unit. Area Presidencies may adjust the travel time requirements for their areas depending on local circumstances and travel costs.
Each area determines the size and type of meetinghouse to provide based on the number of attending members and available meetinghouse options. Area and local leaders consider construction only after determining that it is an economically appropriate, long-term, and sustainable solution.
Before a meetinghouse may be constructed or purchased, the percentage of active, full-tithe-paying adults in the unit must be equal to or greater than 80 percent of the average percentage of active full-tithe-paying adults in the area (or in the country when the area includes more than one country) during the previous year. Area Presidencies may also apply this tithing faithfulness requirement to leases or other meetinghouse options.
In order to strengthen the Church, areas prepare long-term master plans before making decisions to add or redeploy meetinghouse space. They submit these plans according to established schedules. Important factors in these plans include utilization of existing space, forecasted growth, strategic placement of facilities, changes to unit boundaries, and affordability. Meetinghouse needs and plans are considered at the area and coordinating council level.
Generally, areas provide stake offices when a stake is being planned for creation and if it cannot be housed in existing space. To the extent possible, stake conferences, activities, and council meetings are held using existing or rented space. Audiovisual technology may be used for stake meetings to provide additional capacity beyond existing or rented space.
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.
The following guidelines provide local leaders with information as additional bishop and clerk offices are considered in existing meetinghouses.
Facilities Management personnel can help conduct a utilization study to better understand the use and potential capacity of the existing meetinghouse spaces.
Before providing additional space for offices, leaders ensure that all available classroom and other spaces have been considered for conversion to offices.
Consider sharing clerk office space (e.g., two units per office).
Soundproofing (ceiling, walls, and door) should be provided as needed to protect confidentiality. This can be accomplished with insulation or sound masking systems.
For locations within the United States and Canada, Area and Meetinghouse Facilities staff members have explored several office scenarios and cost estimates for current and past standard-plan buildings.