News Story

Church President Appeals for Neighborliness Over Plaza Issue

City residents urged to weigh facts, then decide

SALT LAKE CITY —; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began distributing information packets throughout Salt Lake and Davis counties this weekend with background facts and details about the new Church plaza on what used to be a section of Main Street.

A letter from Church President Gordon B. Hinckley accompanies the information packet. In it, President Hinckley expresses appreciation for those of all backgrounds and faiths who have "worked side by side to accomplish many significant things to benefit the community and assist the needy."

The Church president says he has spoken often and plainly to members of his Church on the subject of reaching out as good neighbors.

"I am convinced this is what God expects of us, despite differences of opinion on some matters," he writes.

Referring to his prayer of dedication for the new Church plaza, President Hinckley says his prayer included a plea that the plaza be seen as a quiet oasis in the midst of a bustling city.

"Unfortunately, some have since felt that this place of peace should be a place of protest, that this island of quiet beauty should be used for confrontational or noisy demonstrations. A distressing legal battle has ensued."

The Church president invites recipients of the packet to "study and ponder it in the light of our most important goal as neighbors: to live together in peace with appreciation and respect one for another." He also invites his readers to write and "share your thoughts with me."

The packet itself is titled "The New Church Plaza: A Perspective from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." In it, various articles explain the origin of the plaza idea and how it evolved into reality. The public review process, the easement and legal questions are all reviewed. An "At a Glance" section lays out the facts simply.

Bishop H. David Burton, presiding bishop of the Church, said: "We are encouraged by expressions of support from across the community, but we realize that many people have strong and different views on the plaza issue.

"We truly feel that when people appreciate the entire history of this project, they will realize that what the Church and city originally tried to do was right for the people of our community, and that it was an open process where the parties acted with the utmost integrity. When people know all the facts, we are confident they can decide for themselves what is right and proper."

Bishop Burton said that while the court appeals process was continuing, all of the parties agreed that a legal solution was much less desirable than a fairly negotiated agreement.

"We hope and believe that is still possible," he said.

Over the coming week, the Church will distribute the packet to business, community and religious leaders along the Wasatch Front.

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