Sunday afternoon 16th March saw the dedication of the new Young Single Adult Building in Manchester, England by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve. The 5 storey facility was full from the cultural hall on the top floor to the baptismal font area in the basement, bursting with 570 in attendance and nearly 100 non-member friends of the young adults.
This is the first new YSA building to be erected in Europe and is another historic milestone in Church History in the British Isles. It was in this city where the very first stake outside North America was organised on March 27th 1960, and where the very first Area General Conference was hosted in 1971.
The contemporary designed structure lies at the heart of the Academic Centre of Manchester, which has the largest student population in Europe. Its large windows afford views of the University of Manchester, The Manchester Metropolitan University and the Royal Northern College of Music, which together have a combined student population of over 75,000 from 154 countries.
On arrival, Elder Christofferson and his wife were informed that the building was full to capacity and so prior to the commencement of the service, took time to visit every location where the service was to be broadcast by closed circuit television, so they could meet members and see them all in person. That act touched the hearts of all those present and set a wonderful spirit for the remainder of the dedication.
The building houses the Manchester YSA congregation which has seen up to 24 languages spoken among its members. Bishop Roberts sees the potential, “As they come together to learn they will forge friendships that strengthen their testimonies and fortify their lives. With this facility we will also have the capacity to see our YSA's potentially meet their eternal companions and therefore strengthen the European LDS Church community at the same time”.
Leah Smith, president of the congregation's women's organisation, Relief Society, says “it is a magnificent building with lots of space and as it will be open all day (from 11:00am to 10:00pm most evenings) will offer great opportunities”. In her talk she stated, “Just like the building is being dedicated today and represents light, we need to re-dedicate ourselves to the gospel and fully immerse ourselves in doing all we can to strengthen one another and to influence for the better all those around us.”
When asked what difference do you think this building will make in the lives of the YSA in the Manchester area, Sophia Berry, Chair of the YSA Council, who studied Spanish and Portuguese and is a trainee teacher reported, “The building is in such a central location that already many young adults who would not normally be able to come to Institute and other activities have started attending regularly. It is an exciting place for us to be, where we have become more unified in our efforts. It means we have more opportunities to socialise, attend Institute classes throughout the week, enabling us to combine our university studies with our study of the gospel. This provides a lot of spiritual strength for us as our testimonies are built we are able to remember those covenants we have made."
President Daniel Liptrott, Manchester Stake President, (Church area leader) spoke on how the building and the activities within will provide protection, support and will sustain each other. He invited the young adults to recommit to the Saviour and change their lives.
Elder Christofferson exhorted the young adults to hold up their light “so people can see the Saviour in our countenances.” He counselled the young people to look after, strengthen and serve one another. “I hope we wear it [this building] out, in good service”.
In his dedicatory prayer Elder Christofferson asked that this building “might be a refuge from evil and a place of peace for all who come, a place of worship and place of covenants, a place of learning by study and by faith, and that it will lift us to thee and lead us to thy Kingdom”. He went on to invoke a blessing ”on all families of the earth, that it may become the foundation of society once again”. He concluded by asking the Lord to “Grant us thy spirit, hear our prayers as we dedicate this building and ourselves in the service of Jesus Christ."