La Luz del Mundo: God May Not Live in a Material Church, But He's Building a Sweet Pad

I left the Catholic Church when I was 17. I'd been fussing for a while with all the weirdness about virgin birth and resurrection and the bilocation of St. Anthony of Padua, when one Sunday, on the way home from Mass, I casually referred to transubstantiation as a metaphor.

My mother, riding in the front seat of my father's big green Pontiac, snorted out a short laugh. "Transubstantiation is not a metaphor," she said. "It's real."

That was it for me: I might have made peace with all the chanting and confessing and genuflecting, but I couldn't remain among people who believed they were performing actual cannibalism — Divine Liturgy or not.

I hung onto my affection for churches, though, long after my exit from religion. I love a good steeple, and an especially parochial wall of stained glass can cause me to levitate with joy. It is, I think, the combination of the virtuous nature of these buildings and the often wild architecture of some of them that draws me to many of the churches in the Valley, several of which I've documented in this column in the past. Like the former Capstone Cathedral, a pyramid-shaped, super-spaceship of a church at Tatum and Shea that's now a Bank of America. And the Asbury United Methodist Church at 16th Avenue and Indian School Road, known among locals as the Cupcake Church because it's shaped like a giant Hostess snack cake. And my new favorite, the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish at 29th Avenue and Northern, a big, glittering pagoda of a building that looks for all the world like a Chinese takeout joint.

I love big, gaudy church buildings. And so I nearly drove off the I-10 stack one afternoon as I maneuvered its widest curve — where the freeway hooks up with southbound I-17 — and spotted the giant metal dome bursting from the former parking lot of Iglesia La Luz del Mundo and poking into the sky next to the stack.

La Luz del Mundo, or Light of the World, was founded in Mexico in 1926 and is based in the west-central city of Guadalajara, where Mass is held in a soaring cathedral the size of three football fields. Here, its congregants are mostly Spanish-speaking downtowners; services are held in Spanish and many of the church officials are immigrants.

La Luz's thousand-strong congregation had outgrown its old home, once known as the Four Square Church and today one of the largest old adobe structures in Arizona. Original plans to demolish the original church were met with dismay from local preservationists from the F.Q. Story historic neighborhood in which the building resides, and La Luz's pastor, Carlos A. Montemayor, caved in and redrew his plans to allow the adobe church to remain standing.

Montemayor designed the new Moorish-themed church himself and hired an architect ("I can't remember her name," Montemayor admitted to me during a recent phone conversation) to make his rough sketches into a buildable reality. The colossal structure, which will combine curvilinear stainless steel with a Sedona-inspired red rock skirting, is funded by its congregation and being constructed gratis by church members who work in the building trades. The renderings on La Luz's website scream "Big Zany Mosque!" and I can't wait to see the completed building.

Located next door to a very noisy Arizona Department of Transportation gravel yard at about Latham Street and 15th Avenue, the new church will, once it's completed, dwarf its predecessor with a chapel that's nearly as tall as that wacky dome. Based on the renderings, the interior will be pretty typical contemporary church fare, except that everything will be a heck of a lot bigger. The lobby will rival Gammage Auditorium's and will open onto a mammoth, pillared main room with a balconied terrace. Its most interesting interior features include a gigantic, Phantom of the Opera-worthy chandelier and an enormous cutout in the overhead dome that will allow natural light to pour onto the congregates, who will no doubt be tithing for a very long time to come to pay for their mammoth new house of prayer.

The church won't be completed for nearly a year, Montemayor told me, but that's not stopping the good Father from bringing people to the Lord. In one very surreal clip posted to La Luz's website, one can watch people being baptized right on the construction site — dunked into a fiberglass tub, surrounded by framing girders and cheered on by hard-hatted workmen.

"We don't believe that the Lord lives in a material temple," Montemayor said last week, "but rather in our hearts."

Really? Then why not deliver sermons from any old building, I asked him, rather than a big, shiny dome as tall as our tallest downtown overpass? "A godly monument next to the freeway is a beautiful thing," he replied. "Everyone will see it and come be with God."

 
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31 comments
DAMIAN.L
DAMIAN.L

this article stinks just like its author.... its full of lies, and just made by a unprofessional author.   

soglelaw
soglelaw

" From: X...Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 9:46 AM...To: soglelaw@peoplepc.com...Subject: RE: Rebekah... There was some typos in the last email, but I was in a hurry. Anyway, look, don't think that I don't care about the church's issues, I do. Do what you think is right. I just don't want to be a part of it. I respect my mother and other people that go there. I'd rather just let the "big boys" handle it, I'm just a powerless person with a small voice. Hope you get somewhere. I did sorta over-react in my first response, but it had nothing to do with me not wanting the church to be exposed, believe that. Anyway, I have some people in Houston you can talk to that have experienced the sexual abused as children/teens from the higher-ups at the church (who are still higher-ups there), but I can't be mentioned. One person in particular is already a mother of 4 and in her late 30's. Show's how long this has been happening, and that it has in fact happened in the Austin chapter. Anyway, like I said, I can't be a part of it. My mother will never ever forgive me, and I can't live with that. I am still helping, just not for people to see. I know how much you love your mother, so do I. Okay, just remember that and respect it. This email is in a hurry too, so sorry for typosBack to work now. TTYLGood Luckhttps://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4449581683441&set=a.1815275427431.2107595.1406440827&type=1http://www.scribd.com/doc/102263517/06061203http://www.scribd.com/doc/103282731

katt
katt

I'm in the process of maybe making a short documentary about this "church" and "followers" and came upon this article. Trust me, there is a lot of things that don't make sense about this so-called "religion" 

Geo
Geo

its funny how you guys criticized the church of all these things and yet none of it has been true. unlike all the proven sins from other religions, really study the facts about lldm, I am a proud member and will die for my faith, will u even consider changing anything in ur life for ur religion???

Rn4dstork
Rn4dstork

First of all where is the Star of David that used to be above the text La Luz del Mundo, it disappeared when obama became president. Now it looks more and more like the AL AQSA mosque in Jerusalem and can you explain me why they work on a Sunday !!!!!!!!!! Tell me if God will be pleased with that building while the day of the Lord, the day of rest is not respected. There is something very fishy about this building. Especially more and more Mexicans turn to islam and give their newborns islamic names !!!!!

steph
steph

the temple is very beautiful but the temple is the least. What truly is important is the doctrine that they preach there. i have never heard out of all religions i have known a more clean, spiritual, and life changing doctrine like the one at the light of the world!!"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14

Robert Hanson
Robert Hanson

Szabofoto, have you any facts to present to us or are you just making empty accusations?

Mustang Sally
Mustang Sally

Your comment that "I love a good steeple, and an especially parochial wall of stained glass can cause me to levitate with joy. It is, I think, the combination of the virtuous nature of these buildings and the often wild architecture of some of them that draws me to many of the churches in the Valley,...." serves as a pretty good explanation in itself of why many churches glorify God with nice architecture -- it doesn't have anything to do with where God lives -- check your Bible, it'll explain all that.

One of the best churches I ever went to, however, started in a rented high school gymnasium in Federal Way, Washington in 1981: Christian Faith Center founded by Casey Treat and Wendy Treat. Today, their church is a worldwide international television and internet-based ministry which has 2 full campuses (one in Federal Way and one in Mill Creek, Washington) each complete 5,000 seat sanctuary, with K-12 schools, day cares, espresso stands, and even a ministry college. I dare say that just ONE of their huge video screens probably costs more than my house. But even though they are a very successful church, their structures are not outlandish or overly ornate but are beautiful yet practical and functional. They seem to have spent most of their building money on solid construction that will last, some green construction, nice landscaping, a HUGE parking lot, a LOT of fancy media equipment, and state-of-the-art band equipment for their music/praise ministry. But the COOLEST thing about this church, and many others like it across America today, is they teach the accurate Word of God. Only the ACCURATE Word of God can help people. Inaccuracies put people in confusion and bondage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

The Light of the World church seems to have some fishy focus on certain individuals/leaders in the church, which is suspect, but I don't know much else about it. Either way, in this particular part of town, I'd rather see a Christian church of some type than say a bar, pool hall or place where gang members can "congregate."

The most important thing about any Christian church, of course, is that their Bible teachings and messages are ACCURATE Bibically -- as you learned when you left the (very confused dogmatically) Catholic church (probably a wise move on your part). I think God is probably happy you left the Catholic church. But He'd probaby like to see you dig for the correct answers, rather than write off Christianity as a whole. Believe me, the answers are out there now, as for the past 30 years in America there has been a bustling growth of knowledge in the Christian church (except for the churches where services are more similar to a funeral than anything else -- those are typically "dead" churches).

Maybe in the future, focus more on learning the correctly interpreted accurate teachings in the Bible, rather than running all over town praising the various church BUILDINGS. I think God would appreciate that too. Then you wouldn't have to write articles posing silly questions like whether or not God lives in church buildings.

linaimai
linaimai

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DAMIAN.L
DAMIAN.L

@katt please make sure that this "documentary" is not full of false accusations be professional  about your work. DONT MAKE UP LIES 

soglelaw
soglelaw

@Geo http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metro/central_phoenix/detectives-say-eduardo-de-los-reyes-sexually-abused-a-boy-while-volunteering-at-a-phoenix-church

Interesting that the pedophile convicted of fondling a young boy the church claims "was just a volunteer" was a member of LLDM, played "nurse" in a room of LLDM, and was living in a house owned by LLDM for years.  Him telling the boy after the molestation "if you tell anyone, you'll get in big trouble" was similar to the ministers who tell rape victims "if you tell anyone, you will go to hell".  When will people take notice that this cult needs to be brought down?  While there are many good souls who attend, the bad apples need to be imprisoned.  The church charging a coyote fee to illegal immigrants for smuggling them across the border to populate the fast growing number of churches / chapters seems to not get law enforcement's attention, and if it does, they don't seem to give a rat's ass.  A hospital employee told me about an illegal immigrant who keeps trying to convert her to LLDM and described being smuggled into the U.S., along with his family.  I call LE, and they don't even bother calling back.  "Just one of 11 million immigrants".

Carlos Montemayor will pay for his sins one day.  God has a special place for him, I'm sure.

Scott Ogle

soglelaw@peoplepc.com

Daniel Reynoso
Daniel Reynoso

Actually, I think God would love the fact that his children work for him every day of the week. We worship God 7 days a week, just like Jesus taught. You're stuck in the old ways just like all the Pharisees who used to condemn Jesus. Oh and by the way.... The 7th day is called Sabath. (The Sabbath was Saturday, that is, the 7th day of the week. When God made the world, he rested on the Sabbath.) And the star of David is a symbol, not an idol. We can take it on and off as we please :)

Ex: (here's something for your reading pleasure, taken from the internet. :)

http://www.easyenglish.info/bi...

Discussions with the *Pharisees In Matthew 12 we read about some discussions with the *Pharisees.

One Sabbath day, the *disciples were walking through the fields. They took some of the grain and cleaned it by hand. Then they ate it. The *disciples were often poor and hungry. They had left their jobs to be with Jesus. Matthew tells us that they were hungry on this day. The *Pharisees had seen them. They protested that Jesus had allowed his *disciples to work on the Sabbath day. They said that to pick the grain was to harvest it. If a man cleaned the grain by hand, he was preparing it for food. They said that both these actions were work. The *Pharisees were very jealous of Jesus. They argued with him many times about the law of the Jews.

SJF-AntiChrist
SJF-AntiChrist

if they are the least, then why you keep building them? simple because they serve a magnet for the eye of the people,

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14???? reallly? then why the light of the world is mostly in Spanish speaking countries, even in the united states the church only serves in latino communities

oh yes the light of the world, no wonder why Mexico is a third world country, with so much violence, no wonder why there has been several wars on the world,

"i have never heard out of all religions i have known a more clean, spiritual, and life changing doctrine " your argument is called subjectivity....

visit my blog www.lldmexpuesta.blogspot.com

Guest
Guest

stop being hypocrites, the lldm members are proud of their sect because of the TEMPLES and because they think the sect is competition for the catholic church

the sect needs a materialistic strategy in order to get members ,by building ostentatious temples in order to call the attention of the people. just like NEMROD intended by building the babel tower

http://becerro-de-oro.blogspot...

what makes me laugh is that LA HERMOSA PROVINCIA is called the holiest place on earth and the new jerusalem when actually a drug dealer was arrested and live just one block away from the main temple

Szabofoto
Szabofoto

This place is a monstrosity. If you live there, which all of us who do live nearby, have been lied to. It is a cult and they do not pay taxes that support the community.

EvilJoaquinism
EvilJoaquinism

why do you compare Jesus with SJF, Jesus always told them to look at the scriptures to prove that he was the messiah

in the case of SJF, he wont let the use of the scriptures at all, the aberrant doctrines of LLDM, teach that no one can understand the bible but the apostles and his ministers

in such case LLDM teaches that, there is no way anyone can prove the election of SJF because god takes care of that in our hearths.... clearly a method mind control,

but what I say that god in my hearts works to prove to me that SJF is just a false apostle and a deciever?

the bible practically exposes SJF as anti Christ, and the doctrines LLDM teaches are not biblical at all

it is so nice to see a "god-sent" with all his opulence, in a third world country where poverty is high, right?

www.lldmexpuesta.blogspot.com

Guest
Guest

I was just wondering if you had been raped yet dressed like that by the apostol from LLDM? he is good at doing these things you know. You do not know what is going on behind closed door's of Samuel until it happens to you.

Rn4dstork
Rn4dstork

Daniel whether you know it or not nut your name means :God is my judge. Shabath comes from the word : SHVITAH which means : STRIKE, to strike, with other words :stop all the works you do on the days of the week and give this day to G'D, only Him, no other things to do, of course you may prepare food and eat, even pluck food if you are hungry. I am a ChristianJew who speaks, reads, writes Hebrew and has lived many years in Israel. You can explain whatever you want but the day will come that your eyes will be opened. I'll pray for you. The most beautiful temple for God is our body and soul.May G'D have MERCY. Rivka.

sum
sum

A building does not have any meaning to it but God does. God lives with us and he is everywhere. It would be silly of me to worship a building rather then God him self. The lord can hear us from any where so why would I want to find him in a building? The bible tells me the truth and so that is all we need to find God. In the old days they needed a translator but today the bible is in almost every hotel and everyone's home. Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal Matthew 6:20 but rather store up treasure in heaven where moth and rust can not destroy and where thieves can break in to.

Daniel Reynoso
Daniel Reynoso

haha I love how people like to talk out of their rear without facts. The majority of the members of the church are of humble beginnings. I belong to the church and remember how in my hometown we used to meet in brothers homes, and old warehouses. Not in huge temples that are used to brag.

The fact that God has blessed us and provided the means to have amazing temples doesn't mean we are competing. We give to God great temples because that is what he deserves. Most of the members of our church are poor people who work in construction. So its obvious we can build things like this.

Oh and not everyone who lives in the hermosa provincia belongs to the church. Hermosa provincia is a small community not restricted to just brothers. Get your facts straight. It might help so that you don't make a fool of yourself. :)

Daniel Reynoso
Daniel Reynoso

haha read the bible. Jesus came to OFFER salvation, not to guarantee that everyone would be saved. The world condemns itself by rejecting Jesus. Which is exactly what the church tells. If people stay in their naive sinful ways; no one needs to condemn them. We will all be judged in the end. It doesn't matter if someone on earth condemns you or not. We aren't hear to judge, just to help each other out :)

Kvrnik
Kvrnik

IT IS JUST A SECT, THEY TEACH THAT NO ONE CAN BE SAVED UNLESS HE HEARS THE WORD OF GOD FROM A GOD-SENT IN THIS CASE SAMUEL JOAQUIN, SO BASICALLY ALL THE CHRISTIAN THAT LIVE IN FAITH BY THE SCRIPTURES THAT ALREADY DIED ARE ALREADY CONDEMNED ACCORDING TO THE CHURCH

ALSO THE SECT, PROMOTES THAT THE HOLY SCRIPTURES ARE NOT VALID , THE LEADER SAYS " IM HERE WITH YOU SO CAN NOT LISTEN YOUR ANCESTORS(HEAR THE HOLY SCRIPTURES) AND YOUR BROTHERS"

THE SECT IS JUST A FAMILY BUSINESS, THEIR DOCTRINES CONDEMN THE WORLD, THEY HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE MEXICO IS A LAND OF CORRUPTION WHERE THE SECT CAN SURVIVE EITHER IF THERE ARE SEXUAL ABUSES

DAMIAN.L
DAMIAN.L

@Guest get your facts straight and do not sign in as a guest you coward  

Evil Joaquinism
Evil Joaquinism

quite interesting, but it was not the catholic church about the rapes, it was members of the light of the world sect, who came out to expose the sexual desires of the "anointed one"

why is there a guy called Abel Joaquin Avelar, who claims to be an apostle, and in his church only Eusebio Joaquin and him are apostles, but not Samuel Joaquin, SJF is nothing in the church of Abel Joaquin Avelar,

Maggy803
Maggy803

Rumors will always be told but our faith is incredible not even death can seperate us from the truth. If you honestly think wrong of LLDM then pray to god to reveal the truth! just as he revealed in other churches with evidence that even the whole world can tell from it. If your church is 99% truth and 1% lie is that gods path? No, god is perfect and will not make any mistakes. Seek for god to reveal you the truth and let him have mercy on you who has faith so you can see his work with your eyes and give him glory and only god and Jesus Christ, not an idol or human but our lord.

Adam
Adam

Yea that never happened. Just another lie taught by the Catholic church and look how that turned out for them. You ask a silly question when you know nothing about it yourself. Come back and make that same claim when you have some credible evidence and not just hearsay.

 
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