"What's behind the closed curtain?"
That's what many guests were wondering as they gathered at a special luncheon of Rotarians, media and area dignitaries at the open house of the Joplin Missouri Stake Center on Oct. 18.
"When they opened the curtain and we saw the beautiful chapel, we went, 'Wow,' " said guests Denee Motazedi and Gene Koester. "It's amazing!"
"I felt the chapel really fostered listening and reverence," said another guest Gary Dunkin.
More than 90 people attended the open house luncheon, including Dr. Benjamin Rosenberg of the Joplin City Council, who presented Creed Jones, president of the Joplin stake with a city proclamation honoring the completion of the Church's new Joplin meetinghouse.
Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean and the city council stated in the proclamation that "a lighted steeple, symbolizing the living Christ, has been installed on the church and will serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration to the community and beyond."
The building replaces one at the same location that was destroyed in the May 22, 2011, tornado that ripped through Joplin.
Pres. Jones thanked the city council and also the Rotarians for combining their monthly meeting with the open house. He joked that maybe steak should have been served at the open house luncheon for the new "stake" center, but he then explained that the word "stake" in the Church comes from the Bible.
He said: "The Joplin stake is composed of 13 congregations, which conform to the tent image described in Isaiah 54:2: 'Lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.'" He said that a stake in the Church helps support the Church the way a tent is held in place by its stakes.
After the luncheon portion of the open house, guests were invited into the chapel, where President Jones outlined a typical 3-hour Sunday service program.
President Jones also discussed the features of the new 21,000-square-foot Church building, including the various uses of the cultural center, which is separated from the chapel by a large sliding partition. When the chapel and cultural center are used for larger meetings, the two combined can seat around 700.
He said the cultural center is used for many other types of recreational activities, such as basketball and volleyball, but also serves as a dance and dining facility with an adjoining serving kitchen and also for musical and dramatic performances with a stage and full audio and video capabilities.
After answering several questions from guests, he invited all to tour the different rooms in the building, including those for the Primary, Relief Society, Aaronic Priesthood, Young Women and the Family History Library.
Beverly Block said, following the tour, that she was especially impressed with the Family History Library.
"I'm going to get my husband and come back here to the library," she said. "And it's all free!"
Kathryn Wilson was also intrigued by the Family History Library, which focuses on genealogy research. "I appreciate the fact that you all are really into family history," she said.
The tour drew a variety of comments from guests.
"I just enjoyed the nice warm camaraderie shown by all," said Mica Burnett.
David Hathaway said he felt a kinship: "I'm a Baptist and I felt the theology was very similar to the one I grew up in."