June 18, 2007 at 1:00 am

Mormon roots run deep along Woodward

When Stephen Mack arrived in Detroit in 1807 and began to build a plank road named Woodward, he could hardly imagine that the faith his nephew established would loom as such a large presence in Bloomfield Hills.

Mack, after whom the avenue on the east side was named, was the uncle of Joseph Smith Jr., who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The large, white temple on Woodward just south of Lone Pine Road is used only for sacred purposes. The eye-catching structure, dedicated in 1999, is of classic modern design, constructed of Imperial Danby White marble quarried in Vermont. The total floor area is 10,700 square feet.

Only Latter-day Saints are allowed inside. The church, which admits the public, stands nearby.

Michael Lantz of Royal Oak says his conversion to Latter-day Saints set him on a course of spiritual transformation and the eventual leadership of the Bloomfield Hills church. While in military service in Vietnam, Lantz noticed another soldier who seemed particularly able at transcending the horrors and tragedies of war. Lantz asked him why.

"He said, 'Oh, I'm a Mormon,' " Lantz said. "I said, 'A Mormon? What's that?' "

Baptized in a lake in Vietnam, Lantz joined the church at age 20 and became a bishop at age 34.

"My faith in Jesus Christ has grown because of my church experience," Lantz said.

Gregg Krupa

Only Latter-day Saints are allowed inside the temple. It was dedicated in ... (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)