It does not take a lot to invoke a sweet memory — a photo, a scent or a place.
For many LDS Church members who lived in and around the Boston area at some point in the past 55 years, the Longfellow Park chapel in Cambridge, Mass., was one such place, a building that evoked cherished memories and was a legacy of the faithful Latter-day Saints who worked hard and sacrificed much to have the chapel built some 55 years ago.
Sunday, two years after a fire during a meeting left nothing of the chapel behind but charred walls and dear feelings, the freshly rebuilt Longfellow Park chapel was rededicated by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency and President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The chapel held personal significance for both President Eyring, who attended services in the meetinghouse while working on his doctoral degree at Harvard, and President Packer, who visited the building frequently with his wife and nine of his 10 children while president of the New England States Mission from 1965-68.
"This is a place of sacred treasured memories of the Savior and His love, where we worshiped and served Him here, over the years," President Eyring said.
President Packer, 86, collapsed after speaking at the rededication.
LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said President Packer had "a brief fainting spell" and that he "was taken to a local hospital for observation and is resting comfortably."
The Longfellow Park meetinghouse, dedicated 55 years ago by late LDS Church President David O. McKay, was one of the first LDS buildings built in New England.
The chapel burned down due to an electrical incident on May 17, 2009. A day later, President Packer tracked down Stake President Gordon K. Low by cell phone to assess the situation. Low asked what to do with the 500 church members who attended the building each Sunday to worship. President Packer said, "We rebuild."
Members of the community, particularly those of other faiths, offered their assistance in salvaging paintings from the burned chapel and their churches for a place to worship and store salvaged items. Many from the community, along with construction workers who rebuilt the chapel, were in attendance for the rededication Sunday.
Throughout the meeting, one theme was clear — the chapel was a place where the spirit of the Lord should be felt by those who enter.
"(The spirit) will be here when you come late at night or early in the morning," President Packer said. "It will be here when the building is empty. I am very grateful that this chapel has been rebuilt and what we might have thought was lost came back again as soon as the chapel was built."18 comments on this story
A choir sang, "How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place," and a soloist sang, "O Divine Redeemer," both of which were sung at the original dedication of the building.
President Eyring said that as the building was rededicated, it was also a good time for those in attendance to rededicate their own lives to the Lord.
In closing, President Eyring offered a dedicatory prayer, dedicating the building as a chapel and an institute of religion to the Lord, echoing the words from the original prayer that any who may enter the chapel to scoff, would feel the Spirit of the Lord and remain to pray.