Church of Latter-Day Saints : 50 years on

The newly finished building pictured in 1966.
The newly finished building pictured in 1966.

The congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the Racecourse Road, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its dedication this Sunday.

An event has been organised to mark a half century to the day in 1966 when it became the first Latter-day Saint Chapel dedicated in Ireland.

Robert Smith (fourth from left) was among those at the dedication in 1966.

Robert Smith (fourth from left) was among those at the dedication in 1966.

Founded in 1962, the first sod was turned by the wife of the late management guru and author of ‘Habits of Highly Effective People,’ Stephen Covey. Members had to find 20 per cent of the construction cost and donated room and board to workers, and laboured before and after their own work, to meet their share of the costs.

Robert Smyth, who joined the church in the city in 1957 and was among the builders, said: “The building was originally scheduled to take just one year, but when this expanded to four, it tested the faith and commitment of all of us who were around at that time. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was when it was finally finished and how good we felt. Despite the not insignificant challenges over the last 50 years, the church continues to be committed to the Racecourse Road site and the facilities, which include the Foyle Family History Centre, continue to serve both us and the wider community.”

As part of the celebrations, an hour long Commemoration Service is being held on Sunday from 12 noon during which a locally made DVD, outlining the history of the church in Foyle, will be launched.

“When we started this, we didn’t know very much about the early days of the church in this area” Bishop Tom McElhinney said. “The earliest record we now have is of a Robert Frazier presiding in 1851 and of an hitherto unknown ancestor of my own, Rebecca Hammond from Newtowncunningham, joining with her family on 1 December 1851.”

Sandra Covey pictured turning the sod in 1962.

Sandra Covey pictured turning the sod in 1962.

Anyone associated with the church over the last 50 years, former members, contractors, family history centre patrons, community groups, relatives and friends are invited to attend.

Construction under way at the Church of Latter Day Saints on Racecourse Road.

Construction under way at the Church of Latter Day Saints on Racecourse Road.

The sign erected in 1964 showcasing what the finished church will look like.

The sign erected in 1964 showcasing what the finished church will look like.

Almost there... the church under construction in 1965

Almost there... the church under construction in 1965

Robert Smyth and Tom McElhinney reviewing the new DVD.

Robert Smyth and Tom McElhinney reviewing the new DVD.