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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Robert F. Craig, aka Pastor Bob, is building Christ Meat of the Word Sanctuary church, which will include a Montessori school, in Bluffdale.

A Holy Ghost rock band, stadium seating, cable streaming and a Montessori school are just a few features "Pastor Bob" hopes will draw souls to Bluffdale.

When the Christ Meat of the Word Sanctuary & Fellowship opens in September of next year, the pastor expects to have 300 members. However, the sanctuary is being built to seat at least 1,500. The nondenominational church invites all Christians.

"God told us if we build it, they will come. So our job is to be obedient and build it," says Pastor Robert (Bob) Craig. "My desire is to please him. Now I don't always do that. But when I have the resources to do it, I try my darnedest to do it. Just like you do for your papa. It is not our undertaking. It is the will of God."

Pastor Bob began his religious ministry in 1972 as an elder in the Methodist Church. After a difference of opinion with the episcopacy, he said he decided to leave the care of the church to God and start a software company. About 21 years later, he moved his company to Utah, where it was absorbed by a global company in 2007.

Just before the two companies merged, the pastor felt a calling to found the Christ Meat of the Word Sanctuary & Fellowship.

"God started beating me up to do this," he explained. The pastor said he told God, "You'll have to give me some time."

The merger freed up time for Pastor Bob to open the church, which currently meets in the Megaplex Theater at the District Shopping Center in West Jordan.

Once the nondenominational church was established, Pastor Bob and his wife recognized the need for a sanctuary to be built where parishioners could meet throughout the week and worship together on Sundays. The Craigs spent months researching sanctuaries across the country. "My wife and I were fasting and praying about really seeking the Lord's inspiration as to what he wanted us to build," explained Pastor Bob. (He and his wife have promised to donate half the cost of the project from their own personal funds, which they attribute to blessings from the Lord.)

While surfing the Internet, Maria-Rosa came across the Beaufort, S.C., sanctuary. She said, "Chief, come and see, look at this!"

Pastor Bob said that when he saw it he knew it was the sanctuary they needed to build.

The Beaufort sanctuary became their inspiration. They contacted the local pastor and were invited to come out with their architect and look at the building. After visiting and talking with the building's architect, the future Bluffdale sanctuary was planned to look identical to the Beaufort building.

The only similar building in the world will be the Beaufort sanctuary, said Pastor Bob, "It will bring absolute glory to our God."

The sanctuary is to be about 65,000 square feet, with stadium seating for approximately 1,500 people. It will include classrooms and a cafe. The physical building and the church itself will be retrofitted to include the latest in technological advances.

"We're looking at ways of ingratiating the spirit of the young people in Utah," explained Pastor Bob. The church is planning to create blogs on its Web site for the youth to communicate with one another. A Holy Ghost rock band will allow youths to become active participants in the church meetings. "We want to lift the roof of our Lord and praise him," Pastor Bob explained.

The church meetings will make use of cable technology to provide live broadcasts of the meetings. Anyone who is sick, on vacation or is not able to come to the meetings can participate. "All they have to do is log into the Web site, and they'll be right in the meeting with us," Pastor Bob said.

During the week, the building will be used as a Montessori school. A nursery and day care also will be available for children whose parents work and need a safe environment during the week.

A Bible study will be offered on Wednesday nights, with a prayer meeting on Thursday evenings. These weekday meetings will be held in addition to Sunday morning Bible study, communion and the worship service.

"If in fact you are going to have a victorious walk in this life and have a real relationship with your creator, you need to know him," said Pastor Bob. "And the way to get to know him is to study his word, the Bible."

The Christ Meat of the Word Sanctuary & Fellowship will begin breaking ground on Monday at 10 a.m. The property is located at 13800 South between 3115 and 3157 West, Bluffdale.


E-mail: cmadsen@desnews.com