Historic church

A lot has happened in the world since the year 1922. As a country, we’ve participated in two World Wars, we’ve witnessed the fall of the U.S.S.R, and we will never forget the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Closer to home in the greater Los Angeles area, Mickey Mouse came to be, the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to L.A., and most recently, the Rams won the Super Bowl. 

Through all of these events, our modest church building at the corner of Second and Strand in Santa Monica has stood, offering peace, hope, and love to all who walk through its doors. Our local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is celebrating the 100-year anniversary of our building’s original dedication this Sunday at 10 a.m. and we would like to invite all to celebrate in person with us. 

History

Many churches experience opposition and persecution, and our building’s origin story is no different. Prior to having their own building, Church members met in a local Masonic Hall but due to growing animosity, they were forced to meet elsewhere.

Shortly thereafter, a parcel of land just steps from the beach was identified and construction began on April 6, 1922. Less than six months later, the building was dedicated on September 24, 1922, by President Heber J. Grant, the leader of the Church at that time. More than a thousand people were in attendance and it was the largest gathering of Church members in California up to that point. 

The building cost more than $41,000 to build and most of the funds were donated by local members. The chapel was originally constructed with a mission style and painted a cream color. But in 1964, it was renovated to a more Colonial architectural style which you see today. 

More than a Building

More important than the building itself are the people that walked through its doors in the last century. Currently, I have the pleasure of serving as the Bishop of our local congregation or ward. With this responsibility, I have the opportunity to observe faith in action in the lives of our members every week. 

Here are a few things to know about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members:

First, we care deeply about helping others. Newsweek magazine wrote: “No matter where [Latter-day Saints] live, they find themselves part of a network of mutual concern; in [Latter-day Saint] theology everyone is a minister of a kind, everyone is empowered in some way to do good to others, and to have good done unto them: it is a 21st-century covenant of caring” (Elise Soukup, “The Mormon Odyssey,” Newsweek, Oct. 16, 2005). We care not just about our own Church members but all children of God. 

Second, our Church is centered on Jesus Christ. An early Church leader wrote, “The fundamental principles of our religion are … concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 49).

Third, our congregation operates as a lay ministry, meaning we have no paid clergy. Each member is given the opportunity to serve in some way to help the Church operate. Some examples include teaching children in our primary classes, giving a sermon to the entire congregation, bringing a meal to someone in need or visiting the sick in the hospital. 

I love having the opportunity to serve hand-in-hand with our fellow members as we try and help lift each other up. Much of my ministry focuses on helping the rising generation (children, youth and young single adults). This includes weekly activities focused on developing spiritually, physically, socially and intellectually. This past week, we hosted a career night with Apple executives who voluntarily shared advice for our youth to consider as they study and prepare to enter the professional field. 

In addition to weekly activities in the evening, our high school youth attend an early morning Bible study class where they begin school days in the scriptures. Preparation during high school leads to opportunities to serve as full-time missionaries in locations throughout the world. We are constantly amazed by the strength of our youth and have full confidence in their ability to lead faith-filled lives. They are worth investing in. 

We welcome all visitors to our services each week. We especially encourage anyone who has an interest in the history of our building to come this Sunday, September 25th, at 10:00 A.M. to learn more about our building’s history and share a meal with us. We would love to learn more about our neighbors and see where we can find common ground to help make the world a better place. 

Our address is 2301 Second Street if you are able to worship with us. We hope to see you there.

Scott Maddux