Following two years of construction, the 2,000m2 meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Javier opened its doors to the public for the first time. The Open House which began on Thursday evening was attended by local mayors, dignitaries, community and religious leaders.
Sophia Alvarez councillor for tourism and foreign residents represented the Orihuela municipality while Mayors Jose Miguel Luengo and Anestesio Bastida Gómez represented San Javier and Los Alcazares respectively. Viewing continued on Friday and Saturday. The building was then dedicated on Saturday evening where, despite the heavy rainfall almost 700 people attended.
The reception offered to visitors by church officers could not have been better as everyone was greeted individually and made to feel most welcome.
Following a brief overview on the role of the church by Susana Lorente (director of Public Affairs) visitors were guided around the building where the function of each room was briefly explained.
In the Family History Centre (free to the public) brother and sister Guillen explained family history and genealogy and how www.familysearch.org is free to everybody. Pasqual Gomez, the bilingual bishop, explained how the most important meeting in this building is the sacrament meeting where bread and water is blessed every Sunday.
He also explained about “Family Home Evening” where all family members spend time together each Monday evening at home without TV etc. and just enjoy each other’s company. The building doubles as the Cartagena stake (dioceses) centre, stake president Enrique Alfonso and others explained the multipurpose use of the building.
The needs of each group within the church is catered for. Young women and young men (12-18) have both separate and joint meetings. There is a nursery for the under 3’s and a mixed primary for children from 3-11 years.
Women 18 and over belong to the oldest continuous women’s organisation in the world (founded 1842) whereas men have priesthood meetings. Young men 12 and older can receive the priesthood. There are also mixed Sunday School classes. Supporting the family and building faith in Jesus Christ are the main thrust of all gospel teaching.
This building is impressive from the outside but spectacular on the inside. There are lovely paintings in the corridors but Susana Lorente was quick to point out that these were purely for decoration and there are no paintings or sculptures in the chapel itself.
Full-time missionaries showed the baptismal font where those over 8 years can be baptised by immersion by an authorised priesthood holder. All the rooms were bright and airy, the centre of the structure has high ceilings and can house hundreds of people, the rooms on each side are where the various classes are held.
This and every church building are debt free and have been entirely funded by the members with no government aid. Each organisation is led by a president who is supported by two counsellors. All leaders are volunteers and there is no paid ministry.
The region of Murcia alone has 2,500 members. 52,000 self-supporting full-time missionaries serve in almost every country in the world. The 16-million-member worldwide church is presided over by Prophet Russel M. Nelson aided by two counsellors and 12 apostles.
If you wish to visit this new building exit the AP7 at exit 786, then first exit at the roundabout and first right again at the next roundabout.