New Mormon Church Will Have Open House Saturday

October 31, 1990|By Jane Lippy | Jane Lippy,Contributing writer

WESTMINSTER - Films, musical performances, genealogy displays and refreshments will be featured Saturday at an Open House for Carroll's newest Mormon church.

The new Westminster Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened for worship to the 300-member congregation Aug. 12, bringing to three the number of Mormon sanctuaries in Carroll. There also are Mormon churches in Hampstead and Mount Airy.

Located at 595 Johahn Drive, off Uniontown Road, the dark brick, one-story edifice in Westminster is set amid the homes and apartments of The Greens. The church includes a central chapel and meeting hall surrounded by classrooms and a kitchen.

The congregation -- called a ward in Mormon terminology -- was started in 1986 and formerly met in a building in Mount Airy.

The Open House is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m., said Bishop Brian Cook, and the public is welcome. A one-hour tour of the new church will be offered.

Cook, 39, who was recently appointed bishop, lives in Union Bridge with his wife Lauren, and their children, Jason, 17, Ashley, 7, Colin, 5, and Hilary, 4. During the day, he works for Cook's Custom Contractors Inc., his family's homebuilding business.

Danny Fred and Ron Finkner are ward officers called first counselor and second counselor, respectively. As such, they assist Cook and supervise the ward's programs.

The money for the new church was raised in an interesting fashion, said Douglas Stephenson, former bishop of the Westminster ward, and now bishop of the Mount Airy congregation, begun in 1981 and located at the intersection of Route 27 and Watersville Road.

"There's no collection," he said. "Members voluntarily tithe their incomes by giving 10 percent to the church. It works very well."

The money goes to the church's Salt Lake City headquarters, which in turn pays the bills.

Founded by Joseph Smith in the early 1820s, the Mormon church has 6,500 congregations with more than 3 million members worldwide. The Mormon's healthful lifestyle -- which includes abstention from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea -- and emphasis on family values contribute to increased longevity and low divorce rate, church members say.

Stephenson, an attorney for Metropolitan Poultry Co., in Landover, Prince George's County, spends about 30 hours a week working as a bishop at the Mount Airy church.

"Families are important to us," he said. He and his wife, Sharon, know plenty about families. They have eight children: Gina Allridge, 20, Doug Jr., 19, Jeri, 17, Michael, 16, Matthew, 13, Amy, 12, April, 9, and Golden, 8.

Scott Sorenson of Libertytown is first counselor, and Tom Lewis of Mount Airy is second counselor in the Mount Airy Ward. Like other wards, the Mount Airy church sponsors youth groups, a Boy Scout troop, a Women's Relief Society, and baptismals. The church also organizes a community Christmas concert with choir ensembles.

Mount Airy's facilities are shared with the Mormon congregation from Damascus, Montgomery County, which meets at different hours.

In Hampstead, the 374-member ward includes a chapel, basketball court, stage, classrooms, and baptismal font.

L. Carey Bolster, a math administrator in the Baltimore County school system, spends 40 hours a week working as bishop of the Hampstead ward.

He's been bishop for four years at the church, begun in 1971 and now located at 4117 Lower Beckleysville Road.

"Everyone has a calling. I do it for the Lord," said Bolster, who lives in Hampstead with his wife, Sheila, and daughters, Kristen, 14, and Jamie, 12.

On Sunday, members of the congregation gather in the chapels -- unadorned by candles, stained glass, or crosses -- for a sacrament meeting presided over by the bishop and conducted by various members. They then divide into classes, followed by recreation and other social activities.

On the first Sunday of each month, the bishop leads a fasting and testimony meeting. Bolster said basic teachings include the Old and New Testament of the Bible, and the Book of Mormon, the sacred book of the Mormon church.

Several clerks serve in each ward. Ron Wine of Reisterstown helps with bookkeeping at the Hampstead church and conducts in-home teaching. All congregation members are visited once a month and may be taught a lesson or given the opportunity to share family concerns.

"We try to follow Christ's example," said Bolster.

Other projects by area church members have included youth groups painting houses, digging foundations for new homes, visiting nursing homes, and helping clean a zoo in Salisbury, Wicomico County.

Family evenings are set aside weekly for prayer and scripture study.

Sometimes the children lead the sessions.

"This is asking kids to do a lot," said Bolster.

There is a variety of activities in each ward -- drama, music, youth, service work and Boy Scouts.

"We go for the Eagle Scout (badge)," Jim Wyrick said of scouting's highest honor. He's first counselor at Hampstead and leader of the ward-sponsored Scout Council of Honor No. 950.

The Women's Relief Society, called the oldest continuous women's organization in the world, visits all the women members and serves the needs of the ward.

Many Mormon young people voluntarily give two years of service, conducting projects for which they raise money themselves. Their assignment, training, and return trip-fare for trips come from the Salt Lake City headquarters.

In 1988 there were 1,707 young church members serving in 125 countries and in other states. Mount Airy has missionaries serving in Brazil, Argentina, and California. Hampstead's serve in Chile, Germany, Montana and Utah.

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