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CY - What qualifies and LDS meeting house to be called a tabernacle? None of my LDS friends seem to be able to answer that.
JOEL - It was a meeting hall that is bigger than a regular church building and was used for larger gatherings of members, usually within one or more stakes.
The Israelites had a tabernacle,which was a portable, tent-like structure, that served the function of a temple.
It was the place where Jehovah might manifest himself to his Priesthood and give instructions to Moses, the lawgiver.
The more modern-day deffinition and function of a tabernacle is one of a center-place for worship. In the early days of the church and through the mid 20th century, LDS communities would have their regular church buildings like we do today, where regular sunday services were held, but there was also the tabernacle, usually a larger building or meeting hall which could hold a larger number of members for special meetings such as stake or regional conferences or other meetings.
Many of the stakes in Utah, Idaho, and other states erected tabernacles with spacious halls and often with rooms attached for offices of the stake presidency and for meetings of stake quorums.
Another qualification for a building to be called a tabernacle is the fact that it is specifically dedicated to be a tabernacle by one holding authority.
There have been about 80 tabernacles built during the history of the church, with about 30 of them still standing. The last one built was the Ogden tabernacle in 1952; after which Stake Center buildings took the place of tabernacles. Most tabernacles have been demolished or converted to other types of buildings such as historical museums and temples(Vernal, Provo), or sold to the city for other purposes. See the Ensign article:
Here is a partial list of existing tabernacles:
Alpine Stake (American Fork), Beaver, Bountiful, Box Elder stake (Brigham City), Bear River stake(Garland), Granite Stake (Salt Lake City), Kaysville, Lehi, Logan, Ogden, Parowan, St. George, Springville, Wasatch stake(Heber), Wellsville, Randolf, Summit County Stake(Coalville), Morgan, Uintah Stake (Now Vernal Temple), Wayne County Stake (Loa), Garland, Smithfield, Salt Lake Tabernacle in Temple Square
Paris, Malad, Blackfoot, Montpelier,