A new Latter-day Saints church in Marana’s Continental Ranch neighborhood, originally expected to begin construction before the end of the year, is indefinitely on hold. The 17,120-square-foot building was planned for a roughly four-and-a-half acre vacant lot at the corner of North Coachline Boulevard and West Idle Wild Drive.
Representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attribute the hold on construction to a reformatting of church meetings and curriculum.
The delay is the result of a new “home-centered” curriculum employed by the church this year, which reduces Sunday time at church from three to two hours, and emphasizes more religious discussion at home.
Less time at church means less emphasis on new churches and meetinghouses.
“They are wanting the religion to be not just on Sunday, not just those three hours in church, but to bring it into the home and have it more family-centered,” said Margaret Preston Madriz, who manages LDS public affairs for Southern Arizona. “We’ve had growth in that area, and growth in Tucson, and were looking at new locations. But when this change happened, it was automatically put on hold.”
The “new balance and connection between gospel instruction in the home and in the church” makes the future unclear for the potential church, which is being facilitated by Bruce Call Architecture. Call hopes to begin construction by the end of the year.
“There are a lot of hoops to jump through with beginning construction, but we’ve done most of that work,” Call said. “That land has been reworked and graded for a long time.”
The Town of Marana accepted one building submittal and is currently waiting for a second. According to the submitted utilities plan, the building is planned to be 27 feet tall at its ridge with a 65-foot tall steeple. The chapel is expected to include 266 seats. The location would also include a small storage building and more than 95,000 square feet of parking.
The Marana branch of LDS started in the ‘50s. As Marana grew, so did the church. Over time, the branch grew enough to become a ward, then several wards within the Tucson Arizona North Stake. In 2015, with a sufficient number of wards, the Marana area was divided out to create a Marana Stake.
The Marana LDS Stake consists of the El Rio Spanish Branch and the Avra Valley, Continental Ranch, Cortaro, Picture Rocks, Red Rock, Silverbell and Tucson YSA 1st Wards. The Marana Stake currently uses four meetinghouses for its seven wards and one branch, with a main building at 13555 N. Lon Adams Road.
“In the future, this can be revisited, but we can’t say for sure if or when that will happen,” Preston Madriz said. “It may be revisited, but we have no specific date or time.”