Greater Gainesville has an amazingly diverse culture of faith, with well over 20 denominations represented in over 500 houses of worship. From Buddhist Temples to Baptist Churches to Interfaith Alliances, residents and visitors to our area have numerous options for worship and connecting with their chosen higher power. 1. The Baughman Center at the University of Florida The Baughman Center is a stunning, elegant contemplation space in the heart of the University of Florida campus. Designed to bring the picturesque outdoor setting inside, the soaring windows and delicate natural materials echo the serene Florida surroundings. Anyone can enjoy the Baughman Center regardless of their faith or affiliation to the university. In May 2012, the building’s architect, John Zona II, received the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Award for the Baughman Center as the third best-designed building in Florida in the last 100 years. For more information or to check event availability, visit performingarts.ufl.edu/venues/baughman-center. 2. Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church Located in downtown Gainesville, Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church was first established in 1867, about the same time that the Union Academy (the first local school for African-American children) was created. While the structure has been replaced many times, the present building was completed in 1906, making it the oldest intact church building in Gainesville. Notable features include beautiful stained-glass windows and a two-and-a-half story tower. For more information about Mount Plesant United Methodist Church, visit mtpleasantgainesvillefl.org. 3. Alachua Hare Krishna Temple The Krishna devotees are well-known in the Gainesville area, especially for the healthy lunch program served daily at the University of Florida campus since 1971 (and more recently at Santa Fe College). Up the road just three minutes north of downtown Alachua, Florida, is The Alachua Hare Krishna Temple, a chapter of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), more popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement. The temple is a spiritual oasis and place of worship for more than 350 area families, the largest Krishna community in North America. Daily worship services are conducted in the same tradition followed in temples all over India for millennia. For more information about the temple and to view an event schedule, visit alachuatemple.com.
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