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When the largest indoor shopping mall in the United States opened last month in Bloomington, Minn., some observers saw the 4.2 milion-square-foot complex as a monument to crass materialism.

But a suburban Minneapolis religious coalition saw the colossal Mall of America as an opportunity to offer spiritual witness to vast numbers of shoppers, workers and managers. A recent Saturday drew an estimated 300,000 people to the mall, which developers tout as the largest enclosed retail and entertainment complex in America.The Mall Area Religious Council, composed of 20 area churches and religious agencies, hopes to bring spiritual values into the lives of thousands, said the Rev. Delton Krueger, council president. About 500 worshipers gathered in the mall's rotunda during a recent Sunday to hear the Rev. Krueger. "See beyond things and money to the spiritual human values given by the creator . . . We believe that materialism is not enough," he said.

United Methodist News Service