If you're an LDS single and looking, then "Head over to Crystal City, Va.," says Time magazine's Time.com's Newsfeed section. That's because the LDS Church recently opened a new building, the "23rd Street chapel," dedicated to singles in the Washington D.C. area.
"After years of sharing space for Sunday meetings and mid-week religion classes, singles in the Northern Virginia area just across the river from Washington, D.C., have their own building," wrote Church News contributor Laurie Williams Sowby.
Since the church's presiding bishop, H. David Burton, predicted the church would likely build more square footage in 2010 than Wal-Mart, it should come as no surprise that the church has another new meetinghouse. But it isn't necessarily the new building that has drawn attention. Instead, it is the unique congregation meeting inside, one that consists solely of LDS singles, and their quest to find eternal companionship, that has media buzzing.
The Washington Post reported in a long story Sunday that the new building, "serves the biggest population of single Mormons outside Utah in a neighborhood so thick with church members that it is nicknamed 'Little Provo.'" The article also notes that these LDS singles congregate together not just for spiritual fellowship and worship, but also to find eternal companionship.
In April, the Mormon church announced it was doing away with student wards around colleges and universities and replacing them with young single adult wards like that in Crystal City. Young single adult wards and stakes serve single church members ages 18 to 30. The church began moving in that direction last year when student wards around Weber State University in Ogden were reorganized into young single adult wards. Similar transitions followed with student church units in Cedar City (Southern Utah University), St. George (Dixie State College) and Ephraim (Snow College).
Commenting on the Post's article, Gawker's Lauri Apple commented that the new building's "purpose is to help congregants mix, mingle and get married as soon as possible, in keeping with the Mormon tradition." Also, the Daily Mail said the chapel "represents Mormonism's exalted view of marriage and its strategy is to get single people to wed as quickly as possible by separating them from married people."
Contrary to these reports, while the LDS Church teaches that marriage is of eternal consequence and should not be postponed, it also teaches that the decision to wed deserves thoughtful, prayerful consideration and should never be made in haste.
Nonetheless, all this media attention about LDS singles and marriage comes in the wake of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson's conference address emphasizing the importance of getting married.
"Perhaps you are having a little too much fun being single," President Monson told men, "taking extravagant vacations, buying expensive cars and toys, and just generally enjoying the carefree life with your friends. I've encountered groups of you running around together, and I admit that I've wondered why you aren't out with the young ladies.
Serving some 800-single LDS members in the Washington D.C. area, this new chapel may be yet another strong reminder for LDS singles to keep marriage on their minds.