Temples To Dot the Earth
This morning I followed along on Twitter and watched via Provo’s Channel 17 as ground was broken for the Provo City Center Temple. Thanks to the #Twitterstake, online streaming video, and the power of social media and blogs, it is now easy to feel like you’re attending such awesome and historic occasions although far away. It was truly a very sacred event.
The past seven days have been full of news regarding temples in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Last weekend the new Kansas City Temple was dedicated by President Thomas S. Monson, followed by news on Monday that Church officials were presenting plans for the new Hartford Connecticut Temple to the town’s Inland Wetland and Watercourses Commission that evening. Then Tuesday evening the Afton, Wyoming city council approved a variance for the spire of the proposed Star Valley Temple. Located on 42 acres on the corner of US 89 and Skyview Lane in Afton, it will have a 90-110 foot spire, but no official architectural plans have been made as of yet.
With this morning’s groundbreaking there are now 137 operating temples, 15 temples under current construction, and 14 more announced temples within the Church. Slowly and surely the visions of prophets are being fulfilled, and the Earth is once more coming into celestial glory, one parcel of land at a time.
The Provo City Center Temple is just one of 29 temples which President Monson has announced since becoming President of the Church. When it was announced in the morning session of last October’s General Conference there was an audible gasp from the crowd in the Conference Center as it was announced that the new temple would be made from the remaining shell of the burnt out Provo Tabernacle. The 129-year-old tabernacle was destroyed in an accidental early-morning fire on 17 December 2010. Provo will be just the second city in the world to have two LDS temples within its city limits, the first being South Jordan, Utah with both the Jordan River and Oquirrh Mountain temples. Elder William R. Walker, head of the Church’s temple department, conducted the groundbreaking services this morning. He said that the Provo City Center Temple will serve Mormons living in eight LDS stakes in Provo and eight stakes in Springville. Elder Cecil O. Sumuelson, president of BYU University, said that an education from BYU is not complete without temple attendance. Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy said that as we keep our covenants in our lives, just like the temple, our holy countenance will reflect on the outside. Sister Patricia Holland spoke of the history of the Provo Tabernacle, and said that from the devastation of seeing the Tabernacle burn now comes the celebration of seeing it made into a House of the Lord. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who presided at the groundbreaking ceremonies and represented the First Presidency, spoke last, saying, “We’re grateful for those who made the inspired decision to build this temple from the ashes of the tabernacle.” With completion expected within two and a half years, it will provide much needed relief to the existing Provo Temple which is the busiest in the Church.
As I watched on my computer at home my heart was filled with joy, and I reflected upon the words of Church leaders from the past regarding the great work of temple building. In 1856 President Brigham Young said, “To accomplish this work there will have to be not only one temple but thousands of them, and thousands and tens of thousands of men and women will go into those temples and officiate for people who have lived as far back as the Lord shall reveal. (Address delivered 22 June 1856, Salt Lake City, Utah; Journal of Discourses, 3:372) Elder Neil L. Andersen, commenting just six weeks after President Hinckley’s announcement of the Church’s new smaller temple plans, said that the Monticello temple would be “the very first of a flood of small temples that will dot the earth.” (Ground Broken for the First of Church’s New ‘small’ Temples, LDS Church News, 22 November 1997) And of course there are Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s famous words regarding the building of latter-day temples. Said he,
“We expect to see the day when temples will dot the earth, each one a house of the Lord; each one built in the mountains of the lord; each one a sacred sanctuary to which Israel and the Gentiles shall gather to receive the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Perhaps they will number in the hundreds, or even in the thousands, before the Lord returns. During the Millennium their presence will be everywhere, for the billions of church members will all be entitled to the fulness of the ordinances and blessings of the Lord’s holy houses. But there are two great temples in particular, two glorious houses of the Great Jehovah, that must be built by his people before he comes—one in Jerusalem of old, the other in the New Jerusalem.” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], p. 277)
Two weeks after my baptism as a young man, the elders who had taught me missionary discussions taught me about the temple for the first time. “This weekend,” I remember Elder Colby saying with reverence, “a new temple will be dedicated. It is a very sacred, and very rare occasion. You should be excited you joined the Church when you did.” The temple he was referring to was the Mount Timpanogas Temple, which was the 49th operating temple in the Church. Little could any of us have known what would come in our lifetime.
To close I would like to share a quote from President James E. Faust whose words best represent my feelings today. He said,
“I urge all who have not yet received these greatest of all blessings within the walls of the temple to do whatever may be necessary to qualify to receive them. To those who have received these blessings, I invite you to prepare yourselves to savor again the experience of being within the sacred premises of the holy temples of God and have the visions of life eternal open again to your hearts, minds, and souls.”
– President James E. Faust, “Eternity Lies before Us,” Ensign, May 1997, 20
Wherever you are in life spiritually, I invite you to participate more fully in the ordinances of the House of the Lord. If you don’t have a temple recommend, get one. If you haven’t worked on your family history, start now. If you have things in your life that need fixing, get them fixed. I promise that as you do so you will experience greater blessings in your life than you could have ever thought possible.
The Church is true. Nearly every single day I think of this quote, and especially during monumental weeks like this,
“No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.”
– President Joseph Smith, from the Wentworth Letter; often standardized as “The Standard of Truth“
May we all help it progress in our individual stakes of Zion is my prayer.