GARDEN CITY – The emerald blue cool waters of Bear Lake have called to thousands of visitors over generations to come and enjoy the water, space and northern mountains that cross into Idaho.
Many of the hills around Bear Lake are dotted with vacation homes and condos.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently completed a unique chapel with a unique purpose and created the Bear Lake Visitors Branch. The chapel is located at 100 South 300 West in Garden City, Utah.
“The Presiding Bishopric of the Church authorized the building (on the east of Highway 89 as you enter Garden City),” Craig Floyd a member of the branch presidency said. “Its main purpose is so visitors have a place to worship.”
The building looks pretty much like any other Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint chapel on the outside, but on the inside, there is a rostrum in the chapel and no classrooms, just one big hall. There should be plenty of parking.
“We anticipate it will only be used for holidays and during vacation periods,” he said. “We planned to hold Sacrament meetings at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. It is a work in progress. There will also be a Young Single Adult ward that meets at 5 p.m.”
All of the meetings will conform to COVID-19 safety standards. And only Sacrament meetings will be held. The meetings are expected to last 45 minutes to an hour.
“Through the years, various meeting schedules have been attempted to accommodate meeting attendance that may range from 600 to 1500 in one Sacrament meeting on any given Sunday,” he said. “The fire marshals have raised concerns that the buildings are overcrowded.”
Although all are welcome to attend the established wards in the area, the Visitors’ s Branch with its unique mission is to accommodate the visitors who spend their time temporarily vacationing or passing through the northern mountain valley.
“This building can also be scheduled for wedding receptions, family reunions and other appropriate activities,” he said. “It is wide open from one end to the other.”
A branch presidency was called with their wives from local wards to facilitate the meetings in the new chapel.
Michael Madsen of Garden City was called as the Branch President, Martin Argyle also of Garden City as First Counselor and Craig Floyd, a Laketown resident, as Second Counselor.
“We are feeling it out as we go,” he said. “We may not be there every Sunday in the wintertime.”
The branch presidency will anticipate how to handle the rest of the year when the vacation season is over.
“The first Sunday of the month we plan to hold Fast and Testimony meetings,” Floyd said. “The rest of the month we will have a typical schedule.”
He said there are plenty of recently-returned missionaries in the valley to draw on for talks.
“Volunteers from attendees will be asked to help with prayers, music, preparing, administering, and passing the sacrament,” Floyd explained. “If anyone plans to be in the area on a Sunday and would like to participate, dress appropriately and come early to the meeting.”
“This Sunday will be our first Sunday,” Floyd said, speaking of Sunday, May 31, 2020.