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Longfellow Park Chapel fire

Longfellow Park Chapel fire - 5/19/09

Last year, our chapel in Cambridge dramatically caught fire during a Sunday meeting. All members were evacuated without injury while twenty-two fire engines from five surrounding communities battled the blaze. The Longfellow Park chapel was the oldest in the Boston area (1956) and a home away from home for thousands of Mormons who’ve passed through Boston in the last 50 years.

Since the fire that gutted the majority of the building, we’ve been meeting in the Harvard Episcopal Divinity School across the street from the Longfellow Park chapel. We have felt very welcome at EDS and our sincerest thanks are sent to our kind and generous renters of the last year.

While it was providence that provided us a location to keep our congregations together the last year, how thrilled we were to dedicate a building of our own this last weekend. Construction on the LP Chapel is not yet complete, but the first Mormon Stake Center in the Cambridge area has been completed not three miles away.

Mormon Stake Center in Cambridge

Mormon Stake Center in Cambridge - dedicated 6/27/10

The specifics of building size, square footage, and activities leading up to the dedication are available elsewhere, but newspapers and other media outlets do little to convey the feelings and spiritual insights at a time of such importance to members in the area.

True, I haven’t spent the majority of my life as a Mormon in Boston. I wasn’t born here and I probably won’t die here. But nearly four years into my life as a resident, I feel so connected to this place–that my history in the area has meaning and importance. I feel connected to the church members in this area as they’ve struggled to plant their seed of the Gospel in sometimes rocky soil and fertilize it the best they know how. “We all drink from wells we did not dig and walk across bridges we did not build,” our Stake President put so eloquently yesterday. I’m grateful for the fore-bearers who came before me in this place.

Printed on the interior of the service’s program is an excerpt from the original Longfellow Park Chapel’s Dedication Booklet:

“A chapel is not an end in itself. It is a place where people can meet and be taught the principles of the everlasting Gospel, and obedience to these teachings; where peace, love, and happiness can reign. Just as the righteousness of the saints in the past has brought the blessings of today, so will the righteousness of the saints today bring forth the Lord’s abundance of tomorrow. This is the simple expression of faith of the Cambridge Branch.

And so the saints of hope and pray that soon their faith and works will bring a Stake of Zion as prophesied; and that the time will come when a Latter-day Saint Temple will overlook the Charles River as it flows on to the sea, along the course trod by the Patriots who lived and fought and died that this land might fulfill its destiny.”

The original Cambridge Branch referenced above was one branch 54 years ago. That one branch has divided, and divided, and divided again — and 30 wards and branches now exist in this region because of the faithful service and diligent action of that original Cambridge Branch. I wasn’t even close to alive in 1956, but I’m eternally grateful for those strong members of the original Cambridge Branch patriots, because they’ve made Boston feel like a home.

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