“Latter-day Temples,” Ensign, Jan. 1972, 30
“Holy sanctuaries wherein sacred ordinances, rites, and ceremonies are performed which pertain to salvation and exaltation in the kingdom of God are called temples. They are the most sacred places of worship on earth, and each one is literally a house of the Lord, a house of the great Creator, a house where he and his Spirit may dwell, to which he may come, or send his messengers, to confer priesthood and keys and to give revelation to his people.” (President Bruce R. McConkie of the First Council of the Seventy.)
For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.
Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house. (D&C 110:7–8.)
Thus spake the Savior as he appeared and accepted the Kirtland Temple April 3, 1836. This vision was followed by the appearance of Moses, who committed the keys of the gathering of Israel to the Church; then by the visit of Elias and of his conferment of authority; and finally by the visitation of Elijah in fulfillment of Malachi’s prediction.
The Kirtland Temple was built in the infancy of the Church during the extreme poverty of its members, according to the plan of the Lord. He had specified that it “be fifty and five feet in width, and … sixty-five feet in length, in the inner court thereof.” (D&C 95:15.)
The building was dedicated March 27, 1836, by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who used a prayer that had been revealed for the purpose.
But “the erection of the temple at Kirtland seemed to increase the hostile opposition to which the Church had been subject since its organization. … Within two years following the dedication, a general exodus of the Saints had taken place, and the temple soon fell into the hands of the persecutors.” (James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord, p. 123.)
Thus the temple was polluted and rejected. The building has been restored and is now used as a meetinghouse by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
For a baptismal font there is not upon the earth, that they, my saints, may be baptized for those who are dead—
For this ordinance belongeth to my house, and cannot be acceptable to me, only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me.
But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me, and I grant unto you a sufficient time. … (D&C 124:29–31.)
Thus came a revelation of the Lord on January 19, 1841. In obedience to that command, the cornerstones for the Nauvoo Temple were laid April 6, 1841. Before the building was completed, the Prophet and his brother Hyrum, the Patriarch, had sealed their testimonies with their blood at Carthage, Illinois, June 27, 1844. Nevertheless, the Prophet Joseph Smith had taken a select few into the upper part of his store in Nauvoo, May 4, 1842, and had given them the endowment.
In December 1845 endowment work began, and by the end of that month more than one thousand members had received these blessings. The building was dedicated on April 30, 1846, and again on the following day.
It was not unknown to the Lord that the Church’s stay in Illinois would be brief. The members needed the blessings they were to receive in that sacred building in order to pass the fiery furnace of the exodus and to come out unscathed.
In September 1846 the Nauvoo Temple was in possession of the mobs, and for two years this once hallowed structure was abandoned. Then in November 1848 it fell prey to the wanton act of an incendiary. A tornado in May 1850 blew the walls to the ground.
Two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. … These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. … I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others.
Wilford Woodruff stated this at the fall general conference in 1877.
The St. George Temple is the oldest in the Church in terms of continuous service. President Brigham Young was the architect for the building. President George A. Smith of the First Presidency dedicated the site November 9, 1871, and ground was broken the same day. The seepage from several springs of alkali water threatened to ruin the foundations of the building. Pioneer ingenuity made a pile driver from a cannon that was a Mexican War relic. This great hammer, bouncing three times with every charge, pounded hundreds of tons of volcanic rock into the earth. It is said that over $100,000 was spent on the foundation alone.
The cornerstones were laid April 1, 1874, by President Brigham Young and others. The walls of the building, of red sandstone, have since been painted white.
On January 1, 1877, the temple was partially dedicated. At this time Elder Wilford Woodruff became president of the St. George Temple. The forty-seventh annual general conference of the Church was held in the temple, April 6, 7, and 8, 1877. The entire structure was dedicated by President Daniel H. Wells of the First Presidency during this conference.
Every foundation stone that is laid for a temple, and every temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his Holy Priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on earth, and increases the power of God and godliness, moves the heavens in mighty power in our behalf, invokes and calls down upon us the blessings of Eternal Gods, and those who reside in their presence.
Elder George Q. Cannon of the Council of the Twelve stated this truth at the laying of the cornerstones of the Logan Temple, September 17, 1877.
Although there are references uttered of a promised temple in Cache Valley being built as early as July 1857, it was in August 1863 that Elder Wilford Woodruff promised this temple to the children of Logan when “you become men and women.” He pointed to the east bench of Logan.
Elder Truman O. Angell, the architect of the Salt Lake Temple, was also architect for this building. The site for the temple was designated by President Brigham Young, and the place was dedicated by Orson Pratt, May 17, 1877.
Excavation was begun for this five-story building of very dark gray siliceous limestone on May 28, 1877. The cornerstones were laid on September 17, 1877, under the direction of President John Taylor. He dedicated the building May 17, 1884.
A Logan Temple Association was organized after the temple was completed. A school was conducted for worthy Church members at the temple (reminiscent of the School of the Prophets at the Kirtland Temple), where various subjects from theology to science were taught.
When we dedicated the temple at Manti, many of the brethren and sisters saw the presence of spiritual beings, discernible only to the inward eye. The Prophets Joseph, Hyrum, Brigham, and various other apostles that have gone, were seen, and not only this, but the ears of many of the faithful were touched, and they heard the music of the heavenly choir.
This is the statement of the late Elder Franklin D. Richards of the Council of the Twelve.
Ground was broken, and the temple site was dedicated April 25, 1877, by President Brigham Young. Early that morning President Young had asked Warren S. Snow to go with him to the temple hill. In the words of Brother Snow: “We two were alone; President Young took me to a spot where the temple was to stand; we went to the southeast corner, and President Young said: ‘Here is the spot where the Prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a temple site, and that is the reason why the location is made here, and we can’t move it from this spot.’”
Two years of blasting and scraping were required to prepare the footings and foundation for the building. Then, on April 14, 1879, the cornerstones were laid, and the work was begun on the walls, which were built of the cream-colored oolitic limestone taken from the quarry at the temple site.
The eleven-year construction period would have broken the spirits of a less valiant group or a people inspired with a less lofty ideal.
But at last all was in readiness, and Elder Lorenzo Snow of the Council of the Twelve offered the dedicatory prayer May 21, 1888.
I want to see the temple built in a manner that it will endure through the Millennium. This is not the only temple we shall build; there will be hundreds of them built and dedicated to the Lord. This temple will be known as the first temple built in the mountains by the Latter-day Saints. And when the Millennium is over, and all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, down to the last of their posterity, who come within the reach of the clemency of the gospel, have been redeemed in hundreds of temples through the administration of their children as proxies for them, I want that temple to stand as a proud monument of the faith, perseverance, and industry of the Saints of God in the mountains, in the nineteenth century.
So President Brigham Young addressed his congregation on October 6, 1863.
The Salt Lake Temple site had been selected on July 28, 1847, when President Young, while walking with his associates, placed a cane in the ground, saying, “Here we will build the temple of our God.”
At the October 1852 general conference it was unanimously decided that “we build a temple of the best materials that can be obtained in the mountains of North America.” Granite from Little Cottonwood Canyon was therefore used.
Ground was broken for the Salt Lake Temple on February 14, 1853; the laying of the cornerstones took place April 6, 1853. Elder Truman O. Angell was the architect for the building. For forty years the Saints worked and prayed and worked again on building this house of the Lord.
President Wilford Woodruff dedicated the building April 6, 1893. Many dedicatory services were held in the weeks to follow. Several of these services were held just for Sunday School children and their teachers.
This land, the land of Laie, was one of the cities of refuge in olden times and now is a city of refuge indeed, both to the spirit and body of man. … When President George Q. Cannon visited here, fifty years after the gospel had been established, he told us, both at Laie and Honolulu, that the time would soon come when we would have a house in which to perform the ordinances necessary for the salvation of the living and the dead.
These are the words of Elder Samuel E. Woolley at the dedication of the Hawaii Temple. He was then completing almost a quarter century of presiding over the Saints of the Hawaii Mission, and had had much to do with the construction of the temple to bless those Polynesian brothers and sisters.
President Joseph F. Smith, himself an early missionary to those islands, dedicated the site for this temple at Laie on June 1, 1915.
The temple, dedicated by President Heber J. Grant on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1919, is on a moderately high eminence commanding an unequaled view of the Pacific.
This land will yet become a breadbasket to the world; and in this land a temple shall be reared to the worship of Almighty God.
To a people beset by the tribulations of pioneering a new area came this promise by one of their number, Elder John W. Taylor of the Council of the Twelve, late in the nineteenth century.
President Joseph F. Smith dedicated the site for this temple at Cardston, Alberta, on July 27, 1913. It was the old tabernacle square, originally given to the Church by Elder Charles Ora Card, who founded the settlement in 1887. Elder David O. McKay of the Council of the Twelve laid the cornerstone on September 19, 1915. President Heber J. Grant dedicated the building August 26, 1923.
The temple is built of light gray granite from the quarries of Nelson, British Columbia. A veritable fortress of God in spiritual strength as well as physical appearance, the Alberta Temple has a commanding view of the Canadian prairie in all directions from Cardston.
We beseech thee, O Lord, that thou wilt stay the hand of the destroyer among the descendants of Lehi who reside in this land … that all the great and glorious promises made concerning the descendants of Lehi may be fulfilled in them. …
Often called the “Lamanite Temple” because of this paragraph from the dedicatory prayer offered by President Heber J. Grant, October 23, 1927, the Arizona Temple stands at Mesa to bless the people. But like any other temple, its doors are open to any member of the Church who has a recommend, regardless of ancestry.
On November 28, 1921, President Grant had dedicated the temple site. Ground was broken in April 1922, and construction began January 5, 1923.
Annually the Arizona Temple plays host to great numbers of Spanish-speaking members of the Church. At the four corners of the temple, in the frieze portion of the cornice, are sculptured panels depicting the gathering of Israel from all nations in this dispensation.
Our whole philosophy is bound up in the erection of temples and the performance of the work therein—our pre-existence, our birth, our death, and our resurrection, and eternal progression thereafter.
Thus President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., addressed the congregation before President David O. McKay laid the cornerstone for the Idaho Falls Temple, October 19, 1940. At that time both were counselors to President Heber J. Grant. In March 1937 the First Presidency had announced that a temple was planned somewhere in Idaho.
Plans for the temple had been discussed as early as 1918. The decision to build was made by the Council of the Twelve on April 30, 1936, and announced in March 1937. The land for the temple was given to the Church by the citizens of Idaho Falls.
This inspiring, one-towered white temple on the banks of the majestic Snake River was dedicated September 23, 1945, by President George Albert Smith.
The outside walls of the temple are faced with white cast stone designed to sparkle with light. As one enters from the annex, he sees the scripture: “The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Hab. 2:20.)
In the process of time the shores of the Pacific may yet be overlooked from the temple of the Lord.
This message was part of an inspiring and encouraging epistle sent from Brigham Young and Willard Richards from the Salt Lake Valley, in August 1847, to the Saints in California.
Ninety years later, in 1937, President Heber J. Grant announced the acquisition of the Los Angeles Temple site. The property, atop a hill near Westwood Village on Santa Monica Boulevard, has a legal description going back to the year 1542 to “Charles I, King of Spain, and his successors in interest, by right of discovery and settlement.” President David O. McKay broke the ground for this temple and dedicated the site on September 22, 1951. Some 662,000 visitors toured the temple and heard the story of the restored gospel before President McKay dedicated it on March 11, 1956.
The Los Angeles Temple is the largest temple built by the Church and the first since the Salt Lake Temple was completed to have a large assembly room where solemn assemblies—meetings of instruction to local priesthood leadership—can be held. The single spire is topped by a cast aluminum gold-leafed statue of the Angel Moroni, over fifteen feet high and weighing 2,100 pounds.
My friends, the church for the Maori people has not come among us. You will recognize it when it comes. Its missionaries will travel in pairs. They will come from the rising sun. They will visit us in our homes. They will learn our language and teach the gospel in our own tongue. …
In March 1881 Paora Potangaroa, most learned sage of the Ngatikahungunu Tribe of New Zealand, made this statement, in answer to the question of his people, “Which is the church?”
That year Latter-day Saint missionaries, who had been laboring among white people in New Zealand, turned their efforts to the Maoris as well. So successful were their efforts over the years that it was sometimes erroneously believed the Church was just for natives.
Plans for a temple in New Zealand, to serve a Church membership of over 40,000 in the islands of the South Pacific and Australia, were first announced on February 17, 1955. Building contractors from the United States and young labor missionaries from the South Seas combined their efforts to complete the temple, which is similar in design to the Swiss and London temples. President David O. McKay dedicated the New Zealand Temple on April 20, 1958.
The time will come … when temples of God which are dedicated to the holy ordinances of the gospel … will be erected in the divers countries of the earth, for the gospel must be spread over all the world, until the knowledge of God covers the earth as the waters the great depths. (Der Stern, vol. 38, p. 332.)
So prophesied President Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of the Church, at Bern on August 19, 1906. Switzerland was first opened as a mission field in 1850.
Speaking in Glasgow, Scotland, on July 22, 1952, President David O. McKay said there would be a temple in Switzerland, a decision that had been made by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple on April 17, 1952.
The temple was dedicated by President McKay September 11, 1955. Earlier the Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir had sung “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee” in a special program there. The temple is in a beautiful alpine setting, with a grove nearby that is reminiscent of the Sacred Grove, and in the distance the rugged Jural Mountains. At the temple, the first in continental Europe, sacred ordinances are performed in Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, and Swedish.
We have in our hearts the prayer that it will be built solidly, sacredly, that those who participate … may all feel that they are erecting a house to the glory of God and to the salvation and happiness of his children.
President David O. McKay spoke these words at the groundbreaking ceremonies for the London Temple August 27, 1955. Just three years later, on September 7, 1958, he returned to the British Isles to dedicate the sacred structure.
The restored gospel was first preached in England at Preston on July 21, 1837, and nine days later the first British converts were baptized in the River Ribble. In the next 120 years many thousands had joined the Saints in Nauvoo and later the valleys of the West. It was not until after World War II that a temple was planned in the British Isles. President Stayner Richards, British Mission president, made arrangements with a Mrs. Pears to purchase her country estate at Newchapel, Surrey, about twenty-five miles from London.
At the time of the dedication there were more than 10,000 Saints in Great Britain: the Church has experienced great growth in the years since then, culminating in the area general conference at Manchester in August 1971.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. …” [3 Ne. 13:33] “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
These two scriptures are engraved on the huge sculptured panel on the north side of the Oakland Temple, a magnificent structure that stands as a beacon to ships as they enter San Francisco Bay through the Golden Gate.
In 1924 President George Albert Smith, then a member of the Council of the Twelve, prophesied while in San Francisco that a temple would be built in the East Bay hills. Eighteen years later, in July 1942, part of the present temple site was purchased.
President David O. McKay broke the ground and dedicated the site on May 26, 1962, and one year later President Joseph Fielding Smith of the Council of the Twelve laid the cornerstone.
The completed temple, which is topped by five spires covered with a blue glass mosaic and gold leaf, was dedicated by President McKay on November 17, 1964—the fifth and last temple he dedicated. For the dedication the temple was filled to capacity and additional thousands were seated in the nearby Interstake Center.