Perils of Mormon Top-down Management

The following incident was noted in an L. Jackson Newell article in Dialogue (Summer 2006) titled:  “En Route:  A Journey of the Spirit”:

The Church set out to remodel the Garden Park ward house [Salt Lake City] about 1987.  This unique architectural treasure was “to be brought up to standard” in the words of the Church Building Department.  Without warning, we suddenly found the towering windows in the lovely old cultural hall ripped out and replaced by concrete slabs, the vintage hardwood basketball floor inside covered with all-weather carpet, and the walls lined with burlap.  In the chapel, three large ninteenth-century Minerva Teichert paintings of biblical scenes were removed from the spaces that the architect had designed specifically for their display so that the building would be in compliance with a new “no decorative art” policy.  Further, due to the structural crosses that appeared conincidentally in the leaded glass windows, they were slated for removal and replacement with clear glass. . .

At the height of this controversy, a serious protest erupted involving members of both the Garden Park wards as well as non-members in the neighborhood.  Stake and ward leaders were urged to halt the destructive work on the historic building.  As part of this effort, I wrote President Hinkley, appealing to him to intervene to stop the desecration of the chapel and return the Teichert paintings.  Within a few months, the Teichert paintings reappeared in the chapel.  The stained glass windows were left undisturbed.  A decade later, the concrete slabs were removed from the cultural hall and large windows were reinstalled.  After all my struggles with the Church over intellectual freedom, this bureaucratic handling and partial desecration of the unique Garden Park ward house was the final straw in my relationship with the Church as an organization.  My spiritual health demanded a release from the storms of institutional religion.

This entry was posted in Art, mormonism, Organizational Dynamics, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

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