Church leaders and government and university officials broke ground for a stake center in south central Los Angeles recently as part of the Church’s commitment to help rebuild the riot-torn areas of the city.
Despite overcast skies, more than six hundred members and friends, including the Southern California Mormon Choir, gathered at a vacant corner lot to witness the ceremony.
Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, president of the North America West Area, presided over the activities. He reminded listeners that the gospel is for all people of all races. “Our mission,” he said, “is to prepare a people and an area worthy to receive the Savior when he comes again.” Elder Groberg said that the new stake center and the stake members will be an important part of that preparation and that they will indeed be “a light unto the world.”
The building will house the Huntington Park West Stake, the first Spanish-speaking stake in the United States. The stake was created in 1984 under the direction of Elder Howard W. Hunter. Its membership has grown from 2,500 when the stake was created to approximately 3,800 members.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Ramon O. Giuliani, president of the stake; Donald A. Peart, architect of the Spanish-style building; and William W. Tanner, former president of the Los Angeles Stake and now bishop of the student ward in the stake boundaries.
President Giuliani testified that positive changes would occur in Los Angeles upon completion of the building. “The Lord has taught us the gospel of love, and that is the gospel we will teach,” he said, explaining that the Church would teach and strengthen families.
Brother Peart commended stake members for their faith and sacrifice for the new building. He encouraged them to use the building as an incentive to share the gospel with friends and neighbors. He also reminded them that they were “given this building as a tool for accomplishing the Lord’s purposes.”
Bishop Tanner, who participated in the organization of the stake nine years ago, encouraged those present to help bind up wounds and to love one another with unconditional love.
Other speakers at the ceremony included a government official and an administrator from the University of Southern California, which is located across the street from the building site.
California state senator Marian Bergeson said that it was one of the most exciting days she’d seen in a long time. She presented a proclamation from the governor commending the Church for its work.
In his remarks, Dr. Alvin S. Rudisill, assistant vice-president of community relations at the university, explained that the university and the Church have, for many years, worked closely together. “Together there is so much we can do and must do to unite this city of angels and to end violence in Los Angeles forever,” he said.