CHESTER — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at 110 Goodhands Creek Road, will hold an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. The church, which opened at that location in 1994, had a recent expansion, more than doubling the size of the existing structure. The new portion includes a formal chapel and additional classrooms.
The Kent Island Branch of the LDS Church qualified for the expansion by demonstrating increased weekly attendance on Sunday and an increase in the number of members who are tithe payers. The attendance for the general sacrament worship meeting has averaged 100 people for the past year. Church leaders attributed the increase to convert baptisms and existing church members who have moved to the area.
The first congregational worship service was held in the new chapel on July 14. Mary Newberry, who moved to Kent Island from Baltimore 35 years ago with her husband David Newberry, was invited to speak during the worship service. The Newberrys were among the first members of the church to live here.
“There were only three member families of the church living in the area when we first arrived,” Mary said. “David and I agreed that with so many people living in the Kent Island area, we should be able to eventually have our own church building here. At first, we traveled to Annapolis every Sunday.
“Our first local congregation met in Ridgely,” Newberry added. “It didn’t take long before the congregation grew. The Ridgely congregation was split into two different geographic areas, and from that, the Kent Island Branch was created. We met in the old Grasonville Elementary School building. A few years later, we saw a property for sale at the corner of Dominion and Goodhands Creek roads. That’s where our building has been since.”
Newberry told the congregation, “Over the years, I’ve seen many people baptized, and slowly we have grown. I’m pleased to have been part of what we first visualized so many years ago. After 35 years, a dream has been realized.”
Congregational leader President Marc Robinson also spoke. “I want everyone to know the purpose of this building — it is a sacred place to receive the nurturing word of God,” he said.
Plans for the open house have been worked on for months. Light refreshments will be served, and guided tours of the building will be provided beginning at 6 p.m. A brief musical program will also be provided by members of the church, especially the children, at 7 p.m. in the new chapel.
Several years ago at the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Fair, the church had a booth providing free computer family history information. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the largest genealogy records service in the world. People who came to the fair that year and brought family names were able to pull up genealogy records for their own families in just a few minutes that they had never seen before, records going back many generations. This was done at no cost, a free service provided by the LDS Church. Information about this service will also be available the evening of the open house.
Members of the church will be available to answer questions about the basic beliefs of the church and address misconceptions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian church. It uses the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon as the cornerstones of the church’s basic beliefs. All people are welcome to come to the open house and regular Sunday meetings, which begin at 9:30 a.m. with the general worship service. Sunday School and other meetings are held afterward, with all meetings ending at 12:30 p.m. The boundaries of the Kent Island Branch include all of Queen Anne’s County, including the Chestertown portion of north county. Numerous members drive to Kent Island from Chestertown each Sunday to attend services.