BYU-Hawaii students have been with LDS congregations that meet in all kinds of buildings, from actual chapels to schools or even local businesses. But no matter the place they meet, having the Spirit is all you need, they said.
Marcus Jin, a sophomore from China majoring in accounting, joined the church when he was 17 and attended Sunday services in a preschool building. He “didn’t even know” there were actual chapels when he joined the church.
After serving a mission and participating in an actual stake center, he discovered, “A smaller size building makes me feel like I’m with my family members. … I prefer a smaller size building [because] you can relate to people. When I go to church here, I don’t know that many people.”
Allison Hunter, a freshman from California majoring in business marketing, had never attended church outside of the usual LDS church building until she came to college. At BYUH, she attends church in the Aloha Center. “From my personal experience, it’s unconventional.”
Although psychology senior AeHyun Jung has had experience with different church buildings, the most peculiar building is the one she attends now: the HGB. The native South Korean explained, “Just knowing that it’s the business building is very interesting.”
Jung had experienced different buildings as well as religions in her past. “I’ve attended the Catholic Church and Presbyterian church. They have a very different way of doing their own church services.” She highlighted some of the differences such as having loud music or candle ceremonies. However, she added, “It was not irreverent.”
Despite the different types of places, students agreed what matters is if the Spirit’s in the meeting, not the building it is held in. Hunter said, “I am reminded that Heavenly Father is the same everywhere and anywhere because it doesn’t matter where you hold the sacrament. The ordinance and your commitment to that ordinance are the same–doesn’t matter if you meet in a house or in the temple.”
Likewise, Jin declared, “It’s not about the size of the building, it’s about the experience. When you have church meetings and take the sacrament, you pay attention to you and the Lord.”
Nonetheless, using a non-chapel for church services has some slight disadvantages, according to the students. Jung said, “I think it depends on the person. For me, at first it was weird to have church services in a school building, but I got used to it. For those who are new to the church, it might be confusing to use different buildings.”
Hunter agreed, “At the beginning, it was something I didn’t know if I would ever get used to. And then you naturally want to adapt to things. So by the end of last semester, I had made that place not just the Aloha Center, but - as strange as this may sound - a place of worship. I felt comfortable when on a Sunday I would see it totally transformed from what I saw it as during the week.”
Jin explained, “My hometown has like 9 million people and there are like less than seven members.” Attending church in a preschool “wasn’t that different because that’s how I started everything. Until I went on my mission, that’s when people told me it was something special.”
Hunter shared how going to church in a school building has “reassured me that Heavenly Father will always be there with me and can reach me in any part and place in the world, whether it be with family at home or with strangers on school campus. Nothing will stand in the way of the Spirit touching my heart when I’m in an unusual setting - or a setting I’m not used to.”