Prayer causes stir at local complex

There is some controversy brewing over a grassy knoll, and this time it has nothing to do with JFK. Members of an LDS congregation have been told to stop gathering outside their apartments for a weekly prayer meeting. Pinnacle Canyon View apartments, home to several UVSC students, are no longer allowing the group to meet for their “ward prayer” meeting on Sunday nights.

Jason Allman, a member of the College 10th ward has seen contention over the Sunday activities build up. “It is just one or two guys,” he said. “The police have been called before.” Allman suspects it is the same unhappy resident or two that has caused Pinnacle’s management to ban the activity. Having his ward’s meeting moved from the grassy knoll frustrates Allman. “It bothers me that one person can spoil the activity of 80.”

Jared Leming, a UVSC student and 10th ward member, said that their disgruntled neighbors have complained before. “He came out and yelled at us before,” Leming said. “He looks for reasons to be mad.” Leming feels the ward has tried to accommodate the complainers. “It started out that we couldn’t sing hymns.” Leming said that the ward axed the hymn singing and changed the time to an earlier hour.

The ward’s leader, Bishop Grant Richards, was startled when one of the apartment’s maintenance people disrupted the gathering August 29 with a very specific threat. “He told us that the manager and assistant manager told him to tell us to leave or we’d be arrested,” Richards said. Richards said that his ward members are good tenants. “We’ve [the ward] done a lot of positive things for them.” Richards went on to say that his ward has helped people meet their rent and has helped the complex fill vacancies. “We are really quite a benefit to them.”

Previous managers have made their dislike of the gathering known by having the sprinklers turned on during ward prayer. He doesn’t understand the current management threat to have him arrested for trespassing over a group prayer. His parishioners don’t get it either.

“I don’t think it was fair,” said Jay Roberts, a Pinnacle resident. “Really all we do out there lasts only 30 to 45 minutes.”

Roberts isn’t alone in his sentiments. “I think people are upset because a lot of us are LDS and we’re all friends,” said Autumn Nielson, a fellow resident. “It’s people telling us we can’t pray in our front yard.”

Nielson, a UVSC student, said that her whole take on Pinnacle has changed. “I thought it was so cool to move into an apartment complex where we could have ward prayer,” she said.

Nielson thinks the clash over the prayer meeting was unnecessary. “I wish the people [complaining residents] would have talked to us so we could have worked something out.” Nielson doesn’t feel her group imposed on their non-LDS neighbors. “People who aren’t LDS are totally welcome,” she said.

College 10th ward now holds their ward prayers in the Institute building, and attendance doesn’t appear to be declining. “Tons of people showed up,” Allman said. “We will continue to meet together.” Richards noted that having the meeting at the apartments increased the chances for him to interact with some of his flock who don’t attend church meetings otherwise.

According to Nielson, some ward members had talked about starting a petition to make their concerns known. “I would hope there are people who would be upset enough to make a stand,” she said.

Pinnacle Canyon View has declined to comment as of press time.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
NetXNews, USA
Sep. 19, 2004
Shawn Mansell

Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday September 19, 2004.
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