In the Dunedin chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints are member Gwen Marshall (seated) with
longtime members and friends (from left) Judy Stone, John
Blazey, Bill Stone and Thelma McLeod. Photo by Gerard
The first thing that struck Gwen Marshall (82) about the
people at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was
that they were so securely happy.
She was working at a florist's shop until she was old enough
to go nursing, when by chance she met a girl who was ''a
''I had never seen anyone who was a Mormon before. She was so
securely happy. That's what struck me.''
A friendship blossomed and after a while, Mrs Marshall said
the girl invited her to meet her friends, who used to gather
at St Clair Beach on Saturdays.
''They didn't believe in alcohol, cigarettes or swearing.
There was an aura of goodness about them.
''I think they went to the beach as a good clean Saturday
When she was invited to join them at their church one day,
she said it was a great shock.
''They were meeting in very humble circumstances. It was
upstairs in an unused government building. It was dingy - not
what I was used to.
''But it was the sincerity, the wholesomeness of the people .
She joined the church in 1947, and later became an integral
part of the construction of what is the present day chapel on
Fenton Cres, in St Clair.
''I was the chief cook and bottle washer for the construction
workers,'' she said.
''People still say today that when the church was being
built, it was an incredibly special time - a very happy
Mrs Marshall said there was only about a handful of people
who were members when she first joined the church. Now, there
are about 900 members, many of whom attended the church's
50th anniversary at the weekend.
There was a meet and greet at the Carisbrook School hall on
Friday evening, an open day at the Dunedin chapel of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and celebration
supper on Saturday, and a Sabbath service yesterday.