The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broke ground Saturday on an enviromentally friendly state of the art meetinghouse in Englewood, planned to serve members of the Mormon faith from across Bergen County.
The 15,270-square-foot facility is expected to open in early 2014, according to a church news release. Plans call for it to include a chapel, 16 classrooms and offices, along with a gymnasium and underground parking spaces. The new meetinghouse, the release said, will also become Englewood's first building to carry LEED certification, which recognizes the structure's "green" construction.
Earth-friendly building features will include rooftop gardens to increase energy efficiency, a sophisticated water recycling system to reduce wastewater and limit the use of potable water for landscape irrigation, and advanced control systems for lighting and thermal comfort will also be installed, church officials said. Recycled and renewable building materials will also be used in construction.
The new meetinghouse will also be equipt to accommodate English, Spanish and Korean congregants through audio broadcasting and translation technology.
“We are very pleased to be part of the religious community in Englewood and grateful to accommodate the growth of our congregations with such a functional and environmentally sustainable facility,” said David Vawdrey, Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Englewood First Ward.
“On behalf of our members, we would like to thank the City of Englewood,” Vawdrey added. “We look forward to supporting our new neighborhood and providing our community with a beautiful house of worship.”
Members said they were excited for the new facility.
“As time has passed, the patience of members has been tested, but our faith has not wavered,” said Brother Leeman Perkins. “And our long nourished hopes are now about to be realized.”
According to Perkins, the Mormon congregation first formed in Englewood in August 1999, and met in Emerson until a location was found at 215 West Englewood Avenue. But the building was not move-in ready, Perkins said, and members did not transition to the Englewood location until February 2001. He said while parking has been inadequate, the congregation grew steadily and warranted the need to transform the branch into a full ward of the Church.
The new location at 62 East Forest Avenue will serve members from congregations with members from towns including Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Teaneck, Hackensack, Fort Lee, Bogota, Leonia and Ridgefield Park.
"Latter-day Saints use meetinghouses for weekly worship services, recreational events and social gatherings," the release said.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a Republican congressional candidate and Englewood resident who attended the groundbreaking, said he has a deep affection for the Mormon Church.
“Michael Benson, whose grandfather [late Ezra Taft Benson] was the president of the Church is like a brother to me,” said Boteach, who is running against Democrat Bill Pascrell for the redrawn 9th Congressional District.
“He [Ezra Taft Benson] used to bring 15 Mormon students every Friday night from London to experience the Jewish Sabbath so I became very close to the Church,” Boteach added. “I’ve visited Utah a hundred times, lectured for the Church, brought Jewish dignitaries to lecture for the Church as well, and I continue this warm relationship.”
While the new building is under construction, visitors were invited to attend weekly services held on Sundays, 10 a.m., at the Church’s existing Englewood Chapel, located at 215 W. Englewood Avenue in Englewood.
There are 60 Latter-day Saint congregations and more than 32,000 members in New Jersey. Worldwide, there are more than 14 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including 6 million in the US.