by Joel Gould
THE new multi-million dollar Mormon church at Augustine Heights is an awe inspiring structure but it is much more than that.
The church will service the 3000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the region but is also welcoming to members of the public who are not Mormons.
The 1200-seat church had its open day today and hundreds of members of the public went on a tour of the chapel and numerous teaching and learning rooms.
Adam Hannant is the president of the Centenary stake which covers seven wards, or congregations, including the ones who will attend the Augustine Heights church.
Mr Hannant said the church was all about building a better community through the teachings of Jesus Christ.
"The point of that is to help raise and lift up every member of the community to become better, and more like Him," Mr Hannant said.
"While we don't expect people to be perfect in this life, our goal is to help them be more and more like (Christ)."
The church will service the Springfield and Bellbird Park ward and Samoan language units.
Springfield ward covers Springfield, Springfield Lakes, Augustine Heights and Brookwater while the Bellbird Park ward covers the area from Woogaroo Creek to Redbank Plains and includes the Bellbird Park suburb.
Springfield ward Bishop Edward Pene said the convenience, let alone magnificence, of the church was a Godsend for local Latter-day Saints.
"It is a lot closer for our church community and it is the first church built in this area so there has been a lot of excitement from members and the public in general," he said.
"The Springfield ward was travelling to the Forestdale chapel near Stapylton so we don't have to travel down the highway any more."
The three wards have staggered Sunday services each lasting three hours, which includes programs for youth, adults, Sunday School and singing.
Through the week there are youth programs running.
All are open to those who are not Latter-day Saints.
"You don't have to be a member of the church to come and participate," Mr Hannant said.
"If families want to improve their family life we have courses on marriage counselling and strengthening families.
"We don't charge anything. If anyone wanted to use this building for a non-profit event there will never be a charge."
The church building has not been a burden on tax payers. The members of the church believe in the doctrine of tithing.
"You read in the Old Testament in the book of Genesis that Abraham himself gave one tenth of everything that he owned to the High Priest Melchizedek," Mr Hannant said.
"That is a principle we apply today, that members of the church provide one tenth of what we earn to provide these facilities. It is something that I do personally. It teaches people to be generous and help others."
Oscar Lawrence, the church's project manager for Australia, PNG and the Solomon Islands, put together a design team and oversaw the construction of the Augustine Heights church.
He said it took 10 months to build with over 50 contractors employed, with the main one being Kane Constructions.
The church seats up to 1200 and has a chapel, recreation hall (including a basketball court) and 12 teaching rooms. Video-conferencing facilities are also installed.
Mr Lawrence said the support of local government was outstanding.
"Having that relationship between the church and local leaders was really important," he said.
Cr Paul Tully went on a tour of the facility and was mightily impressed.
"This is a magnificent facility in the eastern suburbs and an iconic building," Cr Tully said.
"There has been a lot of public comment that is appreciative of the work and effort that has gone into this church.
"I am proud that it is in Augustine Heights, right in the middle of my electorate."
*For more information people can go to mormon.org and find local church details.