SALT LAKE CITY – Meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are instantly recognizable, especially by those who’ve been inside one at least once.
Featuring a purposeful layout, simple decor, and a plethora of folding chairs throughout, these modest meetinghouses not only help unify the worldwide membership but keep costs low, ensuring the Church remains a good steward over its tithes and offerings.
However, one of the most recognizable elements of a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse is about to get a major facelift. After consistent complaints about the “scratchy” walls, along with a desire to heighten the sacred beauty of meetinghouses, Brother Maka Walslukbetta of the Building Maintenance General Committee announced that crews would begin removing the much-chagrined brown or reddish textile wall coverings by August 2019.
“Though a major undertaking, we’ve had success in the small number of chapels we’ve renovated and look forward to creating a more comfortable, worshipful atmosphere for our members,” Brother Walslukbetta said.
The textile currently used is properly known as Sisal, which is derived from a plant with extremely stiff fibers. It’s similar to hemp and often used to make ropes and twine. While durable, sisal walls are quite plain and even painful for the small Primary hands that run across them each week and church basketball players that have reported having received injuries similar to road rash.
Instead, the Build Maintenance General Committee has settled on a special marble decorated vinyl to cover the existing areas where Sisal was previously installed. This will create a smoother, more aesthetically pleasing appearance for those who frequent church meetinghouses.
“Not only will the new marbled style remind members of our sacred temple buildings, effectively linking Sabbath Day and temple worship, but the material is much easier to clean and maintain when properly cared for, and will significantly reduce the number of injuries in our youth activities and other sporting activities,” Brother Walslukbetta said. “We were just receiving reports of too many injuries from the youth playing human foosball. It was really getting out of control.”
Church member Brena Huffman and her five-year-old daughter, Brykynlay, currently attend a ward in central Utah where their meetinghouse has been renovated with the new marble walls.
“I can already tell a difference in my little girl,” Huffman told us. “She’s able to sense the beauty of the chapel and has invited her Primary classmates to be more reverent. Not only that, but it gives me peace of mind that my daughter won’t ever have to worry about getting injured from these dangerous wall coverings.”
The announcement comes on the heels of several changes to various church policies and procedures. “President Nelson is really just a mover and a shaker. He’s aware of every last detail within the church, including the wall coverings in our meetinghouses. Brother Walslukbetta stated.
The renovation process will begin in the Intermountain West and expand throughout the world as more meetinghouse are completed. All Latter-day Saint meetinghouses in the United States are expected to be fully scratchy-wall free by the end of 2020.