“Elated Saints Greet New Temple Plans,” Ensign, Jan. 1976, 93
SEATTLE, Washington—The announcement by President Spencer W. Kimball that a temple is to be constructed to serve the Pacific Northwest and Alaska brought a great wave of gratitude and elation from the local Saints.
The temple, to be located in the Seattle area, will serve some 170,000 members of the Church in Washington, Oregon, northern Idaho, Alaska, and British Columbia. Construction of the multimillion dollar edifice is expected to begin in late 1976, with completion sometime in 1978.
It was the third new temple announced in 1975, making a total of nineteen that will be in use throughout the world. Earlier in the year, President Kimball announced temples for Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Tokyo, Japan.
For many Saints, the announcement of the new temple came as an answer to their prayers. President Heber J. Badger of the Seattle Washington North Stake said, “We have been looking forward to this for a long time. I can only describe the feeling of our members as one of elation. Some stakes in this area have had temple funds operative for some time, while other stakes, whose funds have been directed toward building the much-needed facilities for growing membership, will have to start from scratch. After the announcement by President Kimball, there was a great rush of donations by the Saints here.”
Across the border in British Columbia, President Frank E. Berrett of the Vancouver British Columbia Stake said that the announcement of the temple “brought a fantastic reaction from the members. You can’t imagine the thrill. There has been a great desire here for a temple.
“For us, the announcement seemed to be the culmination of a program that we inaugurated at the beginning of 1975. We called it our ‘Golden Year of Great Expectations,’ during which we concentrated each month on specific areas in which we might improve ourselves. At year’s end, we look back on twelve ‘golden’ links in a chain of personal development and spiritual growth.
“In July, our ‘sacred covenants’ month, we asked our people to focus their thoughts on the covenants that we make as members of the Church. Our intent was to turn the hearts of the people toward temple work and the covenants that we make in the temple. As part of the month’s activities we established a temple cornerstone fund for anyone who desired to make a contribution. This wasn’t an organized fundraising drive at all. It was just announced by the bishops.
“Well, the Spirit must have been working with us. In sixty days, 800 people had donated $12,000 toward the fund. That was far in excess of my expectations because we are in a heavy building program with expanded facilities needed throughout the stake. To have this response from our members, and then to be told that we are to have a temple in this area, was a great thrill.”
The building programs that President Berrett and President Badger talk of are indicative of the rapidly expanding Church membership in the area to be served by the new temple.
In the state of Washington, membership has grown from 11,550 in 1950 to 79,000 now. Similar dramatic growth can be seen in Oregon where membership has increased from 17,885 to 60,000, more than 300 percent during the past twenty-five years. There are 10,000 Saints living in northern Idaho and 8,000 in Alaska. British Columbia has seen steady Church growth in the past ten years with a current membership of 13,000 and one of the newest stakes in the Church, the Vernon British Columbia Stake.
In all, there are forty-one stakes in the new temple area, plus four missions—Washington Seattle, Oregon Portland, Canada Vancouver, and Alaska Anchorage.