Montrose church proud of growth, adds 2nd chapel

After outgrowing their spiritual home for the fourth time since beginning in Montrose, members of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints recently celebrated the opening of a second chapel and meeting house.

“The buzz is the fact that this building is the second of its kind in the world,” said Kerwin Jensen, public affairs director for the Montrose Colorado Stake.

Architects came from Utah to design the energy-efficient, 18,000-square-foot building seven miles south of the current one. The congregation passed through its doors for the first service last weekend, about a year after the dedication and groundbreaking.

The church uses a variety of designs. However, this is a new one that was also used for a chapel and meeting house in Kansas City, which just opened a few months ago, Jensen said.

“There’s uplifting artwork. ... It’s very high quality construction,” Jensen said.

Nicolas Taylor, Montrose Colorado Stake president and a clinical psychologist, predicted the new facility will be popular for wedding receptions because of its unique features. It includes an open-air courtyard accessible from inside through a large sliding door, a hardwood floor gymnasium and cultural hall with a stage, 15 classrooms and four offices for counselling and other needs.

About 1,700 members make up the four units, called wards, that were previously spread out on Sundays in Montrose, each consisting of at least 300 people. One of those wards already moved into the new facility that can accommodate about three.

“We’ve experienced really significant growth in our area. ... This means we’re not going to be spilling out at the seams like we are now,” Taylor said just a couple days before the opening.

For example, there is a Spanish-speaking branch now, he said. In all, the Montrose Stake totals 3,800 members, including several congregations spanning Delta, Cedaredge, Paonia, Gunnison and Naturita.

Worldwide, there are 14.4 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, with about 55 percent outside the U.S., mostly in Central and South America, Jensen said. Smaller areas have branches which could be as small as a few dozen, he said.

LDS took root in Montrose on Nov. 22, 1936, with the first branch renting an old building in town, Jensen said. Churches were subsequently built — and eventually outgrown — in the 1940s, the 1960s and the 1980s, leading to the center that’s currently occupied and now the new one.


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