Sunday, 9 February 2014

Launceston members and friends celebrate building's golden anniversary

February has been a month of reflection and celebration across the stake as the Burnie and Launceston buildings reached the venerable milestone of 50 years since their dedication.

Launceston members were busy for several months collecting photos and other memorabilia, inviting former members and building missionaries and otherwise preparing to make the anniversary celebrations a worthy reflection of the contributions of their building over 50 years.

On Friday 7 and Saturday 8, the doors to the building were opened for a two-day public open house. The foyer greeted visitors with a television display of Mormon Messages and a table introducing them to some of the basic tenets of our faith.

Each classroom was decorated with elaborate displays that conveyed the beauty and simplicity of the Church programmes that bring our members joy and provide opportunities to serve the community.

Displays in the hall took visitors on a stroll down memory lane with photographs, documents and stories that highlighted some of the special memories and significant achievements that had been realised as a result of the Launceston chapel. One particularly significant document, a branch statistical report to the district and mission presidency in 1971, recorded 41 convert baptisms for the year - an achievement we would do well to remember!

The family history centre was open throughout weekend and welcomed member and community patrons who were interested in beginning their family history research.

A lunchtime barbecue provided a welcome opportunity for members and friends to mingle and reflect on the contributions made possible by the Launceston chapel.

In the evening, a commemorative service was held, conducted by Bishop Sam Horsman of the Launceston West Ward and presided over by President Scott Prebble, Stake President. Ruth Chalk of Anglicare Tasmania, Inc., and Mayor Albert van Zetten and his wife were also in attendance. Throughout the service, the choir sang hymns that were featured in the original dedicatory service held 50 years ago.

Opening remarks were offered by Brother Philip Challis, followed by testimonies from Brother Geoff Randall, Sisters Lyn Clark, Merle Challis and June King, each of whom were among the first members of the Church in Launceston and were present at the time of the dedication. Their words painted a picture of excitement, sacrifice and blessings as members worked to establish the Church, raise money to cover the local requirement toward the cost of the building, and contribute time and labour towards its actual construction.

President Walters of the stake presidency reminded members that the celebration was about more than bricks and mortar, but about the lives built as a result of the chapel's presence in Launceston. A video message from Elder Robert J. Dudfield similarly encouraged members to look to the future while remembering the past as the Lord hastens His work of salvation throughout the world.

Bishop Horsman then made a presentation of non-perishable food items, which had been collected by members of the stake and had an estimated value of $2,000, to Ruth Chalk representing Anglicare.

Ms. Chalk offered thanks to the Church for its contribution, which would be used to assist members of the community who are in dire need. She praised members for their commitment to service to the Church and the wider community, and invited those who are able and inclined to donate time towards the Christian work done by Anglicare.

Mayor van Zetten similarly praised Church members for their community focus, and encouraged them to engage in the community by participating in civic activities through the YourVoiceYourLaunceston website. He further encouraged members to continue to reflect the light and love of Jesus Christ to the community.

"May the great God preserve you to continue to be a light to the people of Launceston as you share the love of Jesus Christ with the community," he said.

President Scott Prebble concluded the meeting with an expression of gratitude for having civic and community leaders who share a common faith in Jesus Christ. He reflected on the importance of protecting faith, family and religious freedom through common projects with other people of faith, and encouraged members to become actively involved in sharing their faith with people in the community.

As members and friends left the building, they did so with an increased desire to serve the Lord who had blessed them with the Launceston chapel as an expression of His love and as an instrument to shine His light to those in the community who desperately need to feel His love.