Place of treasured memories, Cambridge meetinghouse rededicated
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Rejoicing, reminiscing and an outpouring of the Spirit accompanied the rededication of the Longfellow Park meetinghouse in Cambridge, Mass. on June 19. President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke and offered the dedicatory prayer. President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, also spoke at the rededication.
In addition to President Eyring and President Packer, members of the Church from many different states returned to Cambridge for the rededication, attesting to the enduring memories felt by those who have worshipped and served in the Church in the Cambridge area. Each year hundreds of members of the Church come to Cambridge to pursue higher education. For six decades the Longfellow Park meetinghouse has been where they have found spiritual education, growth and the meaning of service to others.
Originally dedicated in 1956 by President David O. McKay, the interior of the Longfellow Park meetinghouse was completely destroyed by fire in 2009. The fire, caused by an electrical malfunction, began while stake conference was in session in the building. The building was evacuated with no injuries. Rebuilding began almost immediately and all exterior walls were able to be retained.
Laurie Low, wife of Cambridge Stake President Gordon Low, was the first speaker. She provided a concise history of the buildings on the property where the Cambridge Chapel was finally constructed in the mid-1950s. President Low talked about experiences they had as a young married couple with very young children when they were here years earlier. Matthew Eyring, an Area Seventy and son of President Eyring, recalled his own experiences coming to Cambridge and worshiping in the chapel. All indicated that the spirit of being part of a Church family was a foundation for their lives in the Church.
In his address, President Packer noted that this building had always been blessed with the Spirit of the Lord, and it would continue at all times. He recounted some of his experiences when he served as president of the New England Mission from 1965 to 1968. One memory involved an older convert to the Church named Alberta Baker. Sister Baker, who served in the mission Relief Society, was challenged in a meeting by a few local sisters about new procedures which they felt wouldn't work for them. She responded that they would follow the rules first, and then address the exceptions.
He also noted the friendship his family developed with Carl Joachim Friedrich, a world-famous Harvard professor of government, who lived across the street from the mission home. They shared a traditional German Christmas Eve with the Friedrichs, and the friendship lasted through the years they lived in Cambridge. He also said that because of the Spirit of the Lord which was found in the Longfellow Park Chapel, members of the Church need have no fear for their children who come to the Boston area for education. That Spirit is here, and this building will continue to provide a spiritual home for those who come to worship.
President Eyring remembered his service in presidencies of the Boston District. He arrived in Cambridge just a year after the dedication. "This is a place of sacred treasured memories of the Savior and His love, where we worshiped and served Him here, over the years."
Before coming to the re-dedication, he said he looked through photos and accounts of the original dedication in 1956 by President David O. McKay. He told the attendees, who were assembled both in the Longfellow Park building and the other four chapels in the Cambridge Massachusetts Stake to which the proceedings were broadcast, that he would be using some of the same words used by President McKay in that original prayer.
As President Eyring pronounced the dedicatory prayer, he invoked the blessings of the Lord both on the various parts of the building, and on the sacred experiences future members of the resident wards would have. He repeated the words of President McKay: "May there be such a sweet spirit that strangers who enter to scoff may partake of this sweet spirit and remain to pray."