16 June 2021

History of Sacred Light of Christ Church at 823 S 600 East

Sacred Light of Christ Church at 823 S 600 East SLC, June 2021.

This church at 823 S 600 East has served various small, but devoted, congregations.

It was designed by architect William J Camomile and built in 1913 as the First Swedish Baptist Church.

As the church is located just north of Liberty Park and outside the main downtown area, most people used the streetcar lines to attend services and the Sugar House line had a convenient stop at 900 South and 600 East (hence the lack of designated parking).

Most Swedish immigrants in Salt Lake were members of the LDS Church so the Swedish Baptist Church remained a small congregation and struggled to attract new members. The church held services in both Swedish and English until 1929 when it abandoned its efforts as a separate Swedish congregation.

In 1930 the Second Christian Church (the First Christian Church being in Ogden) took over use of the church; in 1931 they purchased the property and renovated and enlarged it. 

In 1934 the church morphed into the nondenominational Church of Christ. The church’s Elder, Mr. D. L. Thomson, sold the church in 1939 against the wishes of its 35 church members.

The new owner of the building ca.1940 was the Pillar of Fire church which actively used the building until about 1980. The Pillar of Fire was founded in Colorado by Alma White, who is known for being the first woman ordained as a Bishop in the US. Alma was a short-time resident of SLC in the 1880s where she taught at the SLC Methodist Seminary.

In 1983 the building was briefly leased from the Pillar of Fire for use by the Salt Lake Children’s Choir.

The current owner and occupant of the building, the Metropolitan Community Church, started using the building in 1987. The MCC had previously bounced around various church buildings in SLC before finding its home here.

In the early 1970s the MCC met at 740 S 700 E (now Masjid Al-Noor/Islamic Society of SLC), then moved to 870 W 400 South (which was the Tongan United Methodist church until it burned down/demolished in 2000).

In 1977 the MCC attempted to purchase the building at 870 W 400 South but their bank, the Bank of Utah at 70 E South Temple, refused a loan to the MCC after it became well known for serving the Gay and Lesbian community of SLC when the Lt Governor rescinded permission to use the State Capitol for a dance (more on that later!).

The MCC then held services at the Unitarian Church at 568 S 1300 East through most of the 1980s.

In 1987 the MCC moved here (823 S 600 East) where it is now known as Sacred Light of Christ and serves SLC’s LGBTIQ+ community.

Sources: SL Telegram 1912-03-05; SL Telegram 1914-03-21; SL Trib 1931-06-12; SL Trib 1940-03-27; Daily Utah Chronicle 1973-10-30; Rocky Mountain Open Door 1977-11-01;SL Trib 1983-02-27; SL Trib 1987-07-16  
Portion of a postcard for the Pillar of Fire church, front.

Portion of a postcard for the Pillar of Fire church, back.

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