Church Leaders Attend Washington Temple Completion, Choir Concert

“Church Leaders Attend Washington Temple Completion, Choir Concert,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 127–28

Church Leaders Attend Washington Temple Completion, Choir Concert

National government and political leaders paid special tribute to the Church in September when they witnessed the completion of the Washington Temple in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his attendance at completion ceremonies, President Spencer W. Kimball joined United States President Gerald R. Ford for a concert featuring the Tabernacle Choir, performed in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Center of the completion events was the majestic Washington Temple, just outside the District of Columbia above the Capitol Beltway in Kensington, Maryland. It had been under construction since ground-breaking ceremonies December 7, 1968.

Special events included:

—Completion ceremonies Monday, September 9. President Kimball and his second counselor, President Marion G. Romney, and Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Council of the Twelve applied mortar to the cornerstone and sealed a time capsule inside. The capsule contains various historic Church and national documents and copies of the August editions of the Ensign, New Era, and Friend magazines and the Church News.

After the completion ceremonies, President Kimball, President Romney, Elder Hinckley, Church Architect Emil B. Fetzer, and Wendell J. Ashton, managing director of the Public Communications Department of the Church, held the largest Church press conference ever, with more than 100 reporters and photographers attending.

—Tuesday, September 10, more than 100 United States congressional leaders were given tours of the temple. Other prominent persons who toured on subsequent days included Vice President-designate Nelson Rockefeller, the First Lady, Mrs. Betty Ford, and her daughter Susan.

—On Wednesday, September 11, President Kimball offered the opening prayer at the United States Senate session.

—Elder Hinckley offered the invocation in the United States House of Representatives session Thursday, September 12.

—The Tabernacle Choir arrived Friday, September 13, performing a sellout concert for a crowd of 3,000, including President and Mrs. Ford. The concert was extended with three encores and President Ford, in a post-performance visit with the choir, described the concert as “wonderful.”

The choir’s traditional Sunday broadcast originated from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where guests of honor included Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Senators Wallace F. Bennett and Frank E. Moss of Utah.

Dedication of the temple is scheduled for November 19 through 22.

President and Sister Spencer W. Kimball, right, greet United States President and Mrs. Gerald R. Ford at the Tabernacle Choir concert held in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

President Spencer W. Kimball, center, surrounded by wellwishers at the Washington Temple completion ceremony.

United States Chief Justice Warren E. Burger with President Spencer W. Kimball in the presidential box at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Chief Justice Burger was among the many dignitaries who toured the Washington Temple and also enjoyed the Tabernacle Choir recitals. After touring the temple, the Chief Justice referred to it as ”A monument to Christ” and a “symbol of beliefs, of convictions. We need more of that.”

After applying mortar, President Spencer W. Kimball, left, and President Marion G. Romney, right, push the temple cornerstone into place to mark the completion of the Washington Temple.