The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS, has officially organized a Wilton congregation, with members from Wilton, Weston, Ridgefield and Redding.

The establishment of the Wilton congregation on June 20, 2021, was part of a larger reorganization of the Church’s regional boundaries, and comes two and a half years after the Church purchased a 1.3-acre property at 241 Danbury Rd., just south of the Wilton Wellness Center and north of Reiki and Naked Greens.

The Church also purchased an adjacent property, 23 Cricket Lane, bringing the total to 1.8 acres.

With no visible activity at the site since June, GOOD Morning Wilton reached out to Todd Herget, president of the Church’s Fairfield, CT “stake” (a term the Church uses for a region of its congregations) for an update on the new Wilton congregation, which joins congregations in Darien, New Canaan and Stamford in the Fairfield stake.

Herget acknowledged the Church has moved slowly in terms of developing plans for the site, but said eventually, the Church will construct a “meetinghouse” which is envisioned to be the hub of the congregation’s activities.

“A meetinghouse really becomes a central point of worship for our members,” Herget explained, but just as importantly, it also serves as a “gathering place” for youth groups, Bible study, social events and various other activities.

“It really becomes a gathering place,” Herget said. “All of us [having] gone through COVID and having lived through isolation, I think we all can understand a little bit more deeply just how important it is to gather and how the human spirit really thrives on being with others and being able to strengthen one another.”

“[The meeting house] will be a great blessing for the congregation in Wilton,” said Herget. “But it will also be, in our opinion, a great addition to this wonderful community of Wilton.”

According to Herget, Wilton was desirable to the Church for many reasons.

“We did look at many locations throughout the county,” he said. “Wilton is a standout community. Its schools are excellent. The community is robust. There is [proximity] to New York, a train line that connects to the city.”

With all of those attractive features, it was the parcel of land at 241 Danbury Rd. that sealed the deal.

“It’s just an ideal location. It met all of the needs and requirements,” Herget said.

He noted, “I don’t have the particulars yet in terms of the size or the timing… the process will probably take a few years to complete.”

Wilton Selectwoman Deborah McFadden is a member of LDS and spoke publicly about the new Wilton congregation at the June 22 Board of Selectmen meeting. At that time, McFadden said the official formation of the Wilton congregation was an important step.

“As with all large bureaucracies, it’s a slow process, but this is the next step,” she said, referring to the eventual construction.

In the meantime, Herget said members of the congregation are meeting in Newtown, while also looking for temporary space in Wilton. Herget would not elaborate on specific locations that have been or are being explored.

New Canaan As A Model

Herget spoke of the New Canaan LDS congregation as a model for what he saw the Wilton congregation becoming.

LDS meetinghouse on South Avenue in New Canaan (photo: Google Maps)

The New Canaan congregation was established in the late 1970s, Herget said, and has grown since then to “north of 400 members” with deep ties to the community. The Wilton congregation currently has about 250 members.

New Canaan’s meetinghouse is also in a prominent location, at 682 South Ave., just opposite the main entrance to Waveny Park.

Deepening Ties to Wilton

Herget revealed he had recently spoken with Fr. Reggie Norman, pastor at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church and an active member of the Wilton Interfaith Clergy Association.

“We talked about our participation in the interfaith council,” Herget reported. “We’re looking forward to … contributing to the efforts of the interfaith council and in the community.”

Herget expressed his support for the Wilton congregation lay ministers to be part of interfaith initiatives. “That’s the most effective way to be in touch with what the issues are and to really strengthen the communities in which they live,” Herget said.

As plans for the Wilton meetinghouse construction develop, Herget emphasized the Wilton congregation would act “openly and transparently.”

“I’m confident that this building will add to the beauty, the character, the uniqueness of this great town of Wilton, and we look forward to being a part of the wonderful community in a deeper and more prominent way,” Herget said.

“When you’re able to have a physical gathering place, a meetinghouse that signals permanence, I think that deepens the ties to the community, and so we look forward to this opportunity to deepen our ties within the community of Wilton.”