Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Love of Stake Centers

I have a love affair with the Stake Centers of my life.  The first one I ever went to was the Covina (California) Stake Center.  I was baptized there as a teenager.  I also went the second Saturday of every month for the awesome youth dances they were so well known for. 

Not long after my baptism a new stake was created and I became part of the Glendora Stake.  Our new stake set about getting a new Stake Center.  It was on Amelia.  So sometimes it was called the Amelia building.  I sang in the choirs in that stake, played my flute to accompany many more choirs.  I still remember where I was sitting late in '79 during the women's broadcast when President Kimball's message was that we need more sister scriptorians.  I took him at his word and started reading and studying. 

Ron & I lived for 14 years in the Las Vegas South Stake.  Across the street from the Stake Center.  Otherwise known as the Twain building.  All of my children were baptized in that building.  I still remember attending a church-wide parents fireside, bouncing a baby in the foyer, as President Benson uttered his famous words, "mothers come home."  Those words shaped every decision I made as a some-times working mom.  Nothing I could ever do or earn could take the place of my role as a mother.  I also remember sitting in another Woman's Broadcast and a member our ward young women's presidency was sitting in front of me.  When President Hinckley said that women should have one modest pair of earrings, I saw the physical change come to her body.  She slouched down in her seat.  Her hands immediately came up to her ears.  The next day, she was there again for our Sunday meetings - with only one set of earrings.  I can't remember her name, but I will forever remember her example.

We lived for a short time in Goodyear, Arizona.  We were part of the Buckeye Stake.  To get to that Stake Center we had to drive 25 minutes down a two-lane state road, past the dairy farm (hold you nose), to the quaint little town and it's unique building.  It was a throwback to the days when the members would roll up their sleeves and get their own buildings built.  It had an interesting floor plan, complete with the Relief Society room smack dab off the front entry, up a ramp.  A few steps up here, and a few steps down there, it was just interesting finding your way around.  It did not in any way lessen the conference messages.  Do you feel the same as I do? every stake conference meeting is fabulous, just what I needed to hear, nothing could top those messages, until six months later when the next conference rolls around. We celebrated our first son's marriage with the reception there at that building.  I loved that building for the every-week reminder of the sacrifice that many gave to build it, so that I could have a place to learn and grow.

Back in Vegas, we found ourselves in the Paradise Stake.  It's Stake Center is also called the Palora building.  But if you're coming off of Eastern, you don't get to it by turning on the street Palora.  It's a bit confusing for visitors from other stakes, but we managed to find ourselves there every single week.  President Hastings would stand in the foyer and greet our ward members as we arrived.  He said something like, "Happy Sabboth."  I can't remember the exact phrase, but it made me smile and relish the Sabbath day ahead of me.  A few more conferences, institute meetings, a daughter's wedding reception. President Hastings released Brad from his mission and I will never forget he asked me to take Brad's name tag off.  You think it's bad emotionally to send one off - wait till you remove their tag.   

Moving onward, we came to Tule Springs Stake - the Dorrell Building.  I'm not gonna lie, I was apprehensive.  The stake president had been very active in politics, and let's just say we don't have the same political views.  As soon as I heard him speak, wow.  His message went through me and wove itself into me.  I knew without a doubt that he was a man of God called to lead this stake.  I never questioned, doubted, murmured anything about what he asked us to do.  I went to stake service days every month.  More conferences.  A daughter's wedding reception.  Another stake president. Funerals. all wrapped up in that building.

As I reflect on all the different stakes I have been a part of, I can think of specific meetings I've attended where I was taught spiritual truths that made a difference in my life.  Hopefully I am a new and improved version of what I started out as in the Covina Stake 39 years ago.  All the stake conferences with Apostles and members of the 70's quorum that have come.  All of our important family events (except the temple) involved these stake centers.

Now I find myself at the Sunrise Stake Center.  The Hollywood and Kell building.  We're on our second stake president here.  He makes me laugh.  He also gives some equally inspiring talks.

Some buildings have unique floorplans.  This building has a unique architectural feature.

Every time I walk up those steps next to the golden domed steeple I am excited for what I am going to learn next.  I guess some members of the church are o.k. with unique floor plans to their buildings, but change up anything on the outside and all of a sudden the comments start.  There seems to be a bad habit of referring to this building not as the Stake Center, or the Hollywood and Kell building, but as a fast food restaurant.  It's the only area of the church I've ever lived in where this happens.  I find it bewildering.  The conversation goes something like this,
"Person Conducting:  The training meeting will be at the Stake Center at 7:00 p.m.
Someone else:  Where?
P.C.:  The Stake Center
Third random comment:  "The taco bell building."
Someone else:  Oh, O.k. the taco bell building.
If any one else/me says anything:  It's called the Stake Center
Then Someone else/others:  Oh, I know, but everybody calls it that.
Who is everybody?  And WHY are they calling it that?  It is offensive.  I try and follow Elder Bednar's advice and not get offended.  But I would rather invoke President Uchtdorf's two-worded solution:  Stop It!

Does that stake center above at all resemble the fast food restaurant here?

I don't see the resemblance. 

I also don't see how a building that is probably leased -- fleeting, here today, gone tomorrow -- serving non-nutritional food could even begin to compare with a building that is bought and paid for with consecrated funds, dedicated, and the center of my spiritual and sacred family activities.

A friend of mine mentioned she thought that when the Stake Center was built, the steeple was designed to pay homage to the St. George Temple dome.  I don't know if this is a correct version of the story or myth, but I'll take it. I see the resemblance.

Isn't that beautiful?  I like it.  I love it.  It is my Stake Center.