BETA

Branch thriving in summer resort area

HOUGHTON LAKE, Mich. — The newly created Houghton Lake Branch is prospering in this summer resort area that never before had a Church presence.

About 36 people now attend the branch that was just created in July, participating in such activities as quilting for the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center, and a fall social.

Thirteen members, who typically traveled 35 miles to West Branch to attend meetings, were organized into a group by President O. David Rogers of the Midland Michigan Stake on Dec. 9, 2001. Four days later, the first missionaries were assigned to the area.

The first sacrament meeting in the area was held Dec. 16 in Higgins Lake, Mich., in the home of Charles and Ruth Staub. Each Sunday they rearranged their furniture to create a chapel out of their kitchen and living rooms. When the number of members exceeded chairs, some sat on the stairs and peered through railings.

The group began to grow when seven members were baptized by June 2002. On July 21, President Rogers organized a branch, calling Brother Staub as branch president. Membership has increased to a weekly attendance average of 25.

Three weeks after being organized as a branch, on Aug. 11, 53 members and investigators met in Houghton Lake for the first meeting in a rented facility where there was seating for only 25. Members spent the next week renovating the building to meet their needs. Walls were torn and rebuilt. Electrical wires and copper water pipes were rerouted.

Members and missionaries of the fledgling branch worked many hours to make the simple rented structure larger. The facility now accommodates nearly 45 people in the chapel, with overflow seating in the Relief Society room. Additional rooms were also created for the Young Men and Young Women, Primary, nursery and branch president's office. Elders Kyle Ashworth and John Hansen built a podium and also created a sound system from various electronic components and installed it.