RLDS church president visits Michigan institute of religion

Earlier this month, Steven Henrie, Church Educational System coordinator for the East Lansing Michigan Institute of Religion, received an unusual phone call - Pres. Grant McMurray of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints wanted to make a visit.

The call came from Richard Hawks, a member of the Reorganized Church, who wanted to know if he and other guests, including Pres. McMurray, could visit.Brother Henrie gave a resounding, "Yes! Certainly!"

The visit was intended to be an informal opportunity for the leadership of the RLDS church to look at the Student Living Center and institute program here, and so on Nov. 5, Pres. McMurray came for a "nuts and bolts" discussion and lunch. He was accompanied by other local and worldwide church leaders including Larry Tyree and Jim Slauter from the RLDS Quorum of Twelve and Larry Norris, RLDS Presiding Bishop.

Brother Henrie, who also serves as bishop of the East Lansing University Ward, was excited to share the unique facility that serves approximately 150 students of Michigan State University, students from other community schools and young single adults in the area.

The Student Living Center complex consists of three buildings directly across the street from MSU. In addition to the 6,000-square-foot institute of religion, there are two 17-unit apartment buildings for LDS student residents. The living center property is a beautifully landscaped, wooded site of approximately nine acres. The complex was dedicated Oct. 12, 1975, by President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency.

Cindy Coakley, manager of the Student Living Center, led the tour and described for the visitors the social and spiritual opportunities for Stoddard Hall residents, which include scripture study four nights a week, Sunday devotionals and institute classes. Recreational activities include on-site dances, campfires, and volleyball. Lansing Stake Pres. Lindon Robison, Bishop Henrie, Stoddard Halls' head residents and other LDS students assisted in the tours.

Regarding the visit, Pres. Robison said, "Both of our churches share a concern that young adults are at a vulnerable age and this concern prompted the visit. Pres. McMurray expressed appreciation for the attitude of cooperation voiced by President Gordon B.Hinckley - that we have many areas of mutual concern and opportunities to cooperate which bind us."

At the conclusion of the tour and lunch, Pres. Robison presented the guests with a copy of the Lansing Michigan Stake History 1962-1992 and the porcelain sculpture, "Family Circle."

At the conclusion of the visit, Pres. McMurray said: "As I looked around the table and saw all the conversations taking place, I rejoiced over our common heritage. We have made a major commitment to focus on children, youth and young adults. We want to be effective in reaching this group with the good news of the gospel. I look forward to increasing the contact between our churches."

Pres. Robison added: "Our joint desire for community service gives us many opportunities to work together. When our stake center in Kirtland (Ohio) burned, the RLDS church immediately offered the use of their facilities. We have appreciated the special meetings we have held with our youth and adult leaders in the Kirtland Temple which [the RLDS church owns].

"In fact, the land on which the living center and institute now stand was originally owned by an RLDS member."

Bishop Henrie summarized the visit as a "celebration of friendship through our shared church heritage and common goal of serving young single adults."

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