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Church Asks Members to "Sustain" MTC Project

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are asking their members in the Pleasant View neighborhood of Provo to "sustain" a decision to build a nine-story addition to the Missionary Training Center there.

Lorie Johnson, who's been part of the group opposing the project, says the local stake president told members in a sacrament meeting on July 1st that top church leaders considered this an "ecclesiastical decision."

"I grew up thinking that ecclesiastical issues were doctrinal," Johnson told KUER.  "If this is the new definition of ecclesiastical, then we can never challenge anything in this neighborhood."

After the statement in church, neighborhood chairman Paul Evans dropped his opposition.  Johnson has taken over the effort with the Provo planning commission.  The issue could come before the Provo Municipal Council in a few weeks.  Council member Gary Garrett says he'll consider everybody's input on the issue, but he's also a member of the stake presidency in that neighborhood.

Church spokesperson Scott Trotter says the suggestion that the church is exercising undue influence on the building issue is "without merit."  In an e-mail statement, he said local church leaders were responding to questions from their congregation, and they also urged respect for those with differing views.

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