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N.Y. meetinghouse houses entire stake, bulges at the seams

What happens when there's only one available building in which an entire stake of eight units holds its meetings?

You make do - as members of the New York New York Stake have done for the past several months.Even in ordinary times, the stake center at Lincoln Square in central Manhattan is a busy place on Sundays, and a bit like the United Nations. Five units regularly meet there, three English speaking (Manhattan 1st, 2nd and 3rd wards), one Spanish speaking (Manhattan Spanish Ward) and one Korean speaking (Korean Branch).

The stake's other units (Bronx 1st and 3rd Spanish wards and the Bronx 2nd Branch) meet in the Bronx, but when their meetinghouse had to be closed for remodeling in January, all had to move in, temporarily, to the Manhattan stake center.

The units vary in weekly attendance from 50 to 200. The only chapel is in constant use from 8:30 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., with only 10 or 15 minutes between sacrament services. Meetings just can't run overtime. Smaller units hold sacrament meetings in a classroom or vacant apartment in the same high-rise building.

But even tighter scheduling and a highly cooperative spirit is needed to allow all eight wards and branches facilities for full Church programs in the other two hours of the Sunday meeting schedule. Two rooms are continuously set aside as nurseries and are staffed in rotation all day long. Some classrooms are shared by two units at the same time, and other classes are held in the New York Visitors Center on an adjacent floor. Bishops and branch presidents from the Bronx have been given temporary office space in the stake offices.

Stake Pres. Michael K. Young reports that things have gone surprisingly well during the past crowded months. His counselors, Eliot Brinton and Justo Huapaya, are the primary architects of the complex plan for the building use.

Visitors from out of town have often expressed feeling overwhelmed by the masses of Church members in the halls and elevators. But New Yorkers, accustomed as they are to crowds in the subways and on the city's streets, are taking it all in stride and even seem to be thriving on it.

The Bronx remodeling project is scheduled to be finished by the end of June, and everything should be back to normal again.