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New LDS church opens north of Glenwood

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

    The Glenwood ward of the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has opened a new  house of worship in Mills County.

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    The Glenwood ward, formerly housed on Glenwood’s Town Square for  30 years, moved into its new, $3-million, 10,000-square -foot, state-of-the-art church and worship center, located in the Woodfield Estates subdivision west of Highway 275 and Elderberry Road last month. The first services at the new chapel were May 29.
    “The building is pretty much done,” said Bishop James Saufley. “There’s  a few things to do inside - the library has to be set up, and landscaping is still being done, but that’s about it. We’re ready.”
    The new church boasts a chapel with seating for up to 231, a gymnasium, a library, kitchen facilities, classrooms, meeting rooms and a baptismal font. The grounds also have a picnic pavilion and room for a sand volleyball court and softball field.
    The Glenwood Town Square church hosted its final services on May 15. That building is currently for sale.
    More than 160 years ago, the city of Glenwood was founded by Mormons as Coonsvillle, named for town doctor and founder Dr. Liberius Coons. While many of the Mormons fled the area following a rash of anti-Mormon sentiment in the early 1850s, some remained worshiping in Council Bluffs and Omaha.

    The Glenwood LDS ward, founded in 1980 in a member’s home north of Glenwood, now covers all of Mills County and the northern half of Fremont County. In all, more that 170 families call the Glenwood ward their congregation in the two counties. Saufley said the Glenwood ward has come a long way since its days in the former car dealership at Sharp and Vine Streets.
    “I’d say it's quite a step up to what we have here,” said Saufley. But not only is Saufley aware of the step up in square footage and amenities, he said the new chapel gives a permanence that can be seen far and wide in the community and beyond.
    “Even through we've been in the area a long, long time, the building on the square kind of has always had a temporarily feel and this (new chapel) kind of takes that away and makes us more noticeable in the community,” said Saufley. “The facility now enables us to do a lot of things we couldn't do in the old building, as far as worship is concerned and activity for youth. The things we can do here, instead of having to go some play else, is nice.”
    Saufley thinks the new chapel, especially the fact it's steeple can be seen from miles around, has made the new facilities a community selling point.
    “It's created questions,” he said. “A lot of people didn't even notice the church was there and just how prominent it was. With construction going on and people coming up to see what was going on from some of the more outlying communities, it does sort of raise our profile tremendously.”
    The Glenwood ward will hold a dedication ceremony and service on June 12. The facility will host an all-community open house on June 18.