Any Church member who has attended services in overcrowded or unpleasant surroundings can appreciate a standard meetinghouse. Thousands of characteristic Latter-day Saint chapels have been built all over the world. They serve a valuable purpose in providing a spiritual atmosphere for our services, classes, and much of our social life. For many hours each week these buildings are serving the needs of Church programs.
However, it takes a great deal of effort to provide a beautiful, clean, and comfortable building. Initially members must provide time and money, often at considerable sacrifice, for its construction. Then they, together with the priesthood leaders and custodians, play a vital role in caring for the building and grounds. Guidance and help are given through a preventive maintenance program prepared by the Operations and Maintenance Division of the Church. It includes inspecting and repairing the facilities and gives guidelines for the custodian in performing his duties. A key role in making this program effective is filled by the stake or mission physical facilities representative assigned by the stake or mission president. But there are many things that members should do to help care for the buildings.
1. Appreciate a good custodian. After substituting for a vacationing custodian, one sister said, “All members should have a chance to do this work. If they experienced the problems custodians have, they would appreciate them and think twice before littering.”
2. Don’t expect the custodian to supervise activities in the building. He is not a policeman and should be occupied full time in his assignment. An adult supervisor other than the custodian should always be present and responsible for the conduct of those using the building and for locking up afterwards.
3. Financial assistance is needed to help provide for operating and maintenance expenses. This can only be accomplished by each family contributing its share.
4. It is difficult to serve many masters, yet custodians often find instructions coming from many sources. Except for reporting emergencies and some routine scheduling, special custodial needs should be requested through the agent bishop and the physical facilities representative. A written schedule can then be provided for the custodian so he can have the building ready for the programmed activities.
5. Priesthood and auxiliary leaders having keys to the building should respect the trust placed in them and not loan or duplicate keys without permission. They have responsibility for locking the building when they have unlocked it.
6. In decorating for special events, one should not use open fires, including candles, lighted lanterns, or other fire hazards. Also, members should realize that some types of tape pull paint and varnish from the walls.
7. Storage closets need to be cleaned regularly to avoid fire danger. Priesthood and auxiliary leaders should be certain that combustible materials are never stored in closets assigned to them. Furnace rooms, especially, should always be free of stored materials.
8. All members can watch for unusual activities or unusual odors in or around the building so that authorities are notified in time to prevent damage from motor failure, overheated stoves, vandalism, etc.
9. Service projects on the building not only complete work at a minimum cost, but also teach appreciation for the effort needed to maintain buildings. When donating efforts, however, one should be certain that his work is done well so the final result enhances the building.
10. Every effort should be made to conserve energy. Lights and sound systems should be turned off when not needed. Windows should be closed when heating or cooling systems are operating and when a room is vacated. Members may even need to dress for lower building temperatures in wintertime than they have been used to. Saving energy also saves expense and both should be a united goal for all Church members.
The building and grounds belong to the Lord. They were given to him at the time of dedication and members enter and use them as his guests. Recognizing this, we must keep it clean and presentable so an uplifting spirit can always exist. These principles should be taught in our homes and by our conduct at the meetinghouse.
We are blessed as a Church with many beautiful buildings, and we need more of them as the Church grows. We must care for those now available so they will not only serve for many more years, but will also reflect the dignity of a house of the Lord.