After 14 and a half months of construction, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints finally was able to dedicate a new addition Sunday to its Stake Center on Shepherdsville Road in Elizabethtown.
The Elizabethtown Stake, an organizational unit of the church similar to a diocese, includes 11 different congregations, referred to as wards.
The facility now has capacity for 750 people and will serve as a regional worship center, as well as housing worship and administrative space for two local congregations: the Elizabethtown ward and the Radcliff Ward, that meet at different times Sundays.
During the construction, the two congregations, which comprise more than 300 members, at the Elizabethtown Stake from Hardin County attended services in a chapel owned by their church in Bardstown and Brandenburg.
The addition included administrative offices for regional church leadership and office space for a future third congregation. Additionally, some renovations to the existing structure included a new sprinkler system and bathroom remodels.
According to Joel Shoaf, second councilor of the Elizabethtown Stake, the renovation was a result of growth in church membership and activity in the region.
Prior to 2017, when they gained enough members to form the Elizabethtown Stake, which now comprises roughly 3,100 members, the church was part of the Louisville Stake, Shoaf said.
Original plans for the Elizabethtown Stake chapel were developed in 1974, which included construction phases for the building, Shoaf said. The most recent construction was the fourth phase.
“Due to the growth of the church, we needed an organizational, leadership wing here in this building,” he said.
According to James Gledhill, president of the Elizabethtown Stake, the term “Stake” comes from Isaiah 54:2, which directs the Lord’s people to “... enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains ... and strengthen thy stakes.”
“It’s talking about Zion and those people that are striving to become like Jesus Christ. As the church grows, the church is like a tent and as the tent becomes bigger, you need more stakes to keep that tent strong,” he said.
In addition to the dedication held Sunday, the church also conducted its Stake conference.
Gledhill said the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints is known by many names – such as Mormons and LDS – but the name of the church always has been the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints. He said recently they’ve had a major emphasis to go back to having that be what other people, along with themselves, call the congregations.
“Many of our websites used some of those terms in the past. Those terms actually started out as being used as negative terms from detractors,” he said.
Gledhill referenced a statement by the church’s President Russell Nelson in which he said, “When we take the name of our Lord out of our name ... then we inadvertently take him out of our thoughts and our prayers.”
“The focus of the church, the whole purpose of us being in existence, is to help draw us closer to the savior, Jesus Christ, and to become more like him,” Gledhill said.