LDS Church leaders announced Friday a new program to improve the longstanding program of having members take turns cleaning local meetinghouses.
“We are excited to announce this inspired program, which we are calling “Pure Hearts, Clean Chapels,” said Elder F. Garth Christiansen of the Seventy. “The Brethren have been gratified by the enthusiastic response of members to the call to keep our chapels clean in the past, but in the spirit of President Spencer W. Kimball, we feel that, as members, we all need to ‘lengthen our strides.'”
After much prayer and fasting, middle management of the Physical Facilities department were inspired to create a system of immediate blessings for cleaning the chapel. “The Lord drew our minds to Doctrine and Covenants section 130,” said Brother Frank J. Horton, senior maintenance manager for the department:
“20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all clessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”
In accordance with this scriptural admonition, the department has implemented a means for providing the possibility of receiving blessings for cleaning the houses of the Lord.
“We decided that every member who volunteers to clean the chapel would be entered into a drawing for a door prize. The drawing will be held each Saturday after the chapel has been cleaned to the stake physical facilities director’s satisfaction,” said Brother Horton.
“At first, we decided that the prize would be a month’s exemption from paying tithing, but some leaders were hesitant, feeling that such would not be a wise use of the Lord’s finances. But, after we explained that it was far less expensive than paying for custodians and other maintenance personnel.”
However, leaders were inspired to offer an alternative blessing: Exemption from church attendance for one month. Response has been extremely gratifying, says Elder Christiansen. “In our pilot programs, the chapels have been busy on Saturday mornings, and they have never been cleaner.”
Members have even been cleaning on days when they are not assigned, and local wards and branches report that no longer are sign-up sheets and phone calls needed.
Primary instructor Todd Nelson, speaking as he scrubbed the baseboards in the foyer, said, “These haven’t cleaned in a long time, but just look at them now.” He explained that he has been motivated to come each week, along with his family. “Are you kidding? It’s a great opportunity to serve, and the blessings are wonderful.”
Elder Christiansen noted that, so far, no one has taken the tithing exemption, which has been a pleasant surprise for the Brethren. “We expect that those who have won the exemptions are spending more time in personal and family scripture study and prayer.”
Relief Society counselor Ruth Harward expressed gratitude for the program. “An hour a week cleaning is well worth it if there’s a month’s worth of meetings I can skip. Those are twelve hours of my life I can’t get back. And besides, it’s really nice to see the chapel so shiny and clean. I’m sure Jesus is looking down and smiling. Of course, I’m getting tired of not winning.”