County Mormons get stake, appoint leaders BY JOAN KERN, Correspondent
Lancaster's first Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened in a small store front in 1946.
In 1970, it was still a small ward, or congregation, with about 200 members. But over the years, it has grown to four independent wards with about 1,500 members, administered by stakes, or governing bodies, in other counties: first the Gettysburg Stake, then the Harrisburg Stake.
On Sunday, Lancaster County Mormons got their own stake. The Lancaster Stake was proposed and affirmed in a conference at the meetinghouse at 1136 Sunwood Lane.
Dr. Conrad Knudson, of York, was named president.
"It's humbling because this is a lay ministry," Knudson said. "No one volunteers; you're asked. There's no voting. It's done through prayer and discernment."
Serving with Knudson are David Kenley, of Elizabethtown, as first counselor; and Brad Smith, of Lititz, as second counselor. The new stake includes the four Lancaster County wards: Lancaster, Ephrata, Lititz and Elizabethtown; and three in York County: Shrewsbury, West York and York.
The Lancaster and Ephrata wards worship at 1200 E. King St. -- Ephrata at 9 a.m. and Lancaster at 1 p.m. Sundays. The Lititz and Elizabethtown wards worship at Sunwood Lane -- Lititz at 9 a.m. and Elizabethtown at 11 a.m. Sundays.
The Shrewsbury, West York and York wards worship at 2100 Hollywood Drive, York -- Shrewsbury at 9 a.m., West York at 11 a.m. and York 1 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 329-0938 or go to www.lds.org.
Knudson explained that "stake" is a biblical term, taken from the stakes that hold up a large tent in the Book of Isaiah.
The church, headquartered in Salt Lake City, is led by President Thomas Monson, a quorum of 12 apostles and a council of 70. Two members of the council proposed the new stake at the conference on Sunday.
"It's a landmark transition," said Delbert Ellsworth, of Marietta, a member of the public affairs committee for the Lancaster Stake. "Growth required a division of the stake so congregations could be better administered. Harrisburg just got too big."
Ellsworth, who worships in the Elizabethtown Ward, attributed the growth to Mormon missionaries who invite people to join the church, to an influx of Mormons from the West and to the Mormons' high birthrate.
"Traditionally, Latter-day Saints have large families," he said.
A retired psychology professor from Elizabethtown College, Ellsworth is among the "western transplants."
"I'm a life-long member," he said. "I was born into the church, in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been here since 1970."
The new stake will mean less traveling.
"We won't have to go to Harrisburg for stake meetings," he said, "More philosophically, it will be a tighter unit for getting to know each other better."
The Lancaster Stake joins three others stakes in the area: Chambersburg (formerly York), Harrisburg and Reading.
Four bishops serve the Lancaster County wards: Derrick Herbert, Elizabethtown; Jim Bowe, Ephrata; Allen Zerbe, Lancaster; and Aaron Young, Lititz. The York County bishops are Richard Miles, Shrewsbury; Curtis Toone, West York; and Matthew Gogna, York.
Knudson said he hopes more locally based leadership will be good for the Lancaster and York communities.
"I hope their influence and the good they do for the community, the help they give poor and needy, grows," he said. "We hope to be good citizens, good neighbors, good servants. … One of great things about the new stake is that it is a greater opportunity to serve the community. We are a service church -- to each other and the community at large."
As an example, Knudson said on April 27, Mormons across the state will help clean up state parks.
"We want to help them thrive," he said.
The locally based stake, he said, gives the community more opportunity to know Mormons.
"We want to share a message of peace and happiness. This gives more people a chance to ask about us."
He also hopes people will ask about "our eternal families."
"We believe the love between a husband and wife and children is not just for our mortal life time but for eternity," Knudson said. "We believe the family is forever. That could be our bumper sticker. We love to share that."
Continued from 5