Featured Story

California Community Welcomes Construction of Temple

Outpouring of giving and cooperation lifts the Yuba-Sutter community during repurposing of a house of worship

Repurposed for the Community

A beloved church in the Yuba-Sutter area of Northern California was the hub of activity in May. Dozens of people pitched in to help a church in their community and their aid, in turn, helped many others in the area.

Downloadable B-roll & SOTs


Wearing face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, helpers removed cabinets and doors, furniture, pews and even the gymnasium floor of the Yuba City California Stake Center, a multicongregational house of worship for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The building, which served Latter-day Saints for more than 40 years in the twin cities of Marysville and Yuba City, was razed to make way for what is regarded as the most sacred of structures to members of the faith: a temple.

Church President Russell M. Nelson announced plans in 2018 to build the 38,000-square-foot Feather River California Temple at 1470 Butte House Road in Yuba City. The invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 18 in the community located about 40 miles north of Sacramento, near the Feather River, at the base of the Sutter Buttes.

“Many people have felt like this ground is sacred,” said local Church leader, Yuba City California Stake President Steve Hammarstrom, referring to the familiar landmark. “When you walk around, you can feel it.”

The Tumber Family

In the early 1970s, before the Church owned the property, Mehar Tumber and his family, devout Sikhs, owned the land, where they grew peaches.

His widow, Surjit, and her children fondly remember Mehar as a man of great faith. “He loved God,” Surjit recalled.

“He was a gentlemen’s gentleman and with that, came his spirituality and his belief in God,” added his son, Ravi.

During that time, the Church had difficulty locating suitable acreage on which to build a stake center. Mr. Tumber was not in the market to sell, but that changed when he was approached by representatives of the Church.

Mehar’s daughter, Raji, remembers the day her father announced to the family he had sold the property to the Church. “He had the biggest smile on his face and was so happy,” she recalled. “He thought it was a blessing to have a religious organization … as an anchor to our property.”

For nearly 50 years, the relationship between the Tumbers and the Church has grown in mutual respect and admiration. “There’s a special spirit associated with their faith and our faith, merging together,” said President Hammarstrom.

“Dad was so thankful that it went to a church and it was about God,” said Ravi.

“The roots are established here for this place, this location and what’s surrounding it,” added Raji. “With the new temple, it’s just deeper roots.”

As with the Tumbers and their Latter-day Saint neighbors, a similar friendship has formed between the Church and the Yuba-Sutter community at large.

“This is a small town. We can’t do without each other,” said John Nicoleti, deputy director of Yuba-Sutter Habitat for Humanity. “Our faith community is actually in an uptick. We’re excited about the new temple.”

Repurposing Stake Center Material

That bond of fellowship was exemplified in the outpouring of service in May, when more than a dozen different faith and charity organizations helped dismantle and repurpose valuable material from the Church’s Yuba City California Stake Center, ensuring it has another chance to benefit others in the community.

“We want to give some of what we are to others,” said local Church leader Paul Watkins, an Area Seventy in the North America West Area. “This, in some ways, symbolizes that.”

President Hammarstrom added, “Even though the building’s going away, a piece of it is living on in more than a dozen churches and other … nonprofits and schools.”

Habitat for Humanity 

Solid-wood doors and cabinets from the stake center were given to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, which helps fund the construction of new homes. “We’re probably dealing with 10 or 20,000 dollars’ worth of basic materials, because it’s in really good condition,” said Nicoleti, who estimated the money will help place families into new homes.

Yuba-Sutter Community Task Force

This latest service project is not unusual for the twin cities of Marysville and Yuba City, but rather the norm. It’s the result of a remarkable concept forged out of love and friendship, known as the Yuba-Sutter Community Task Force.

Marysville City Council member Stephanie McKenzie said divine inspiration was instrumental in creating the task force.

“What has been the most successful are the relationships that we’ve built. We know each other. We trust each other,” said McKenzie, who is also the director of the committee. “Because of those relationships … everybody is so supportive of each other. It’s so easy to make something happen. We just say, ‘Okay, we’re in this together.’”

Virgil Atkinson, a Latter-day Saint who has served on the task force since its inception, said, “The task force is the vehicle to bring all of the churches and all of the political entities … and organizations … together. And so, that breaks down that wall between everybody.”

Atkinson helped many of the faith and charity organizations in the twin cities procure their lists of needed items from the stake center prior to dismantling. “We walked the halls with about 12 to 14 different pastors and organizations. That was a cherished experience,” he remembered.

Bethel A.M.E. Church

Gwen Ford was part of the group with Atkinson and is the church administrator for one of the oldest African American churches in California, which dates back to the gold rush era. “We are planning to start a couple of nonprofits, economic development and education,” said Ford.

The Bethel A.M.E. Church does a lot with very little. Folding chairs, chalkboards and display stands and cases are a welcome addition to the church’s community efforts. In addition, a decorative stone bench now complements the A.M.E. Church entrance.

“We can’t afford to buy this stuff,” said Ford. “[These] things are going to be very, very helpful. It’s not an overabundance of things, but it’s the exact things that we need.”

Faith Lutheran Church

The Yuba stake center’s baby grand piano is exactly what the Faith Lutheran Church needed. Its music now accompanies worship services and chorale performances. Pastor Bernie Fricke, a talented singer and chorale leader, said the new piano replaced their well-used piano. “We’re not a money-making church with our concerts, but we certainly want to serve the community. So I was very happy for the Church to offer that for us.”

Five30 Church and Events Center

Pastor Jim Carpenter said he was divinely inspired to create a church and events center as a refuge for the community. “It’s about our common ground. And what we’re doing with the change that we want to see in our culture, our community, our society.”

Pastor Carpenter said it was a tender mercy and a literal answer to prayer when he got a call from his Latter-day Saint friends. His newly organized church needed chairs — lots of chairs — that could quickly be set up and taken down for various events. “What we need is the convenience of the folding chairs, and not only the folding chairs but the carts to stack it up and make a smooth turnaround.”

Smaller items that help a church and events center function were also needed, but they were pricy to purchase on the ministry’s budget. “My wife had just made a list and said, ‘Lord, we need water pitchers, and we need salt and pepper shakers.’ We walked [into the stake center kitchen] and there’s this tray full of 50 sets of salt and pepper shakers. I said, ‘I will take those!’ My faith grew immediately,” recalled the pastor.

Cherished Relationships, New Beginnings 

What was cultivated by a gracious peach grower more than 40 years ago has borne amazing fruit and promises so much more to Latter-day Saints and their friends and neighbors as they say goodbye to an old friend and eagerly await the building and completion of the new Feather River California Temple.

“This church and our house — it’s all been blessed a million times,” reflected Raji Tumber. “We are glad Dad made that decision [to sell].”

“The temple coming here … is special. And he would be absolutely thankful for it over anything else,” added Ravi Tumber.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.