Ground Broken for First Temple in Australia
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“Ground Broken for First Temple in Australia,” Ensign, Oct. 1982, 77

Ground Broken for First Temple in Australia

On what might be “the most memorable day in the history of Australia,” according to Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Church broke ground for the temple to be built in Sydney. Cloudless, and with temperatures in the 70s, August 13 was a perfect Australian winter’s day for the open-air ceremony.

Presiding at the groundbreaking services, Elder McConkie turned the first spade of earth, followed by Elder Rex D. Pinegar, member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Administrator for the Australia/New Guinea Area, and also Regional Representatives and stake and mission presidents.

Plans to build the first temple in Australia were announced almost 2 1/2 years ago in 1980 by President Spencer W. Kimball, but construction has been delayed.

Completion of the 12,500 square-foot edifice will require about 16 to 18 months, according to Earl M. Monson, director of temples and special projects construction for the Church. The Sydney temple is one of forty-one either operating, under construction, or soon to be started in various locations around the world.

At the special fireside that followed in the evening, more than 1,500 people packed the Sydney Hebersham Stake Center to hear messages given by Elder Pinegar and Elder McConkie. “There could scarcely be a more memorable day in the entire history of this great nation,” Elder McConkie commented in his one-hour address at the fireside. “We have done something which will do more for the salvation and exaltation of the people of this great land than practically any other single thing we could have done.”

For Elder and Sister McConkie, who twenty years earlier presided over the Southern Australia Mission, headquartered in Melbourne, it was a day of singular personal significance.

Elder McConkie noted that the gathering of Israel referred to in Isaiah, with mention of the mountain of the Lord’s House “‘in the tops of the mountains,’ is figurative language for places where temples will be built.”

“The gathering of Israel is into the stakes of Zion in the nations of the earth. This temple is a fulfillment, as far as Australia is concerned, of that prophecy of Isaiah. It is just as literal a fulfillment as the building of the temple in Salt Lake.

“I cannot use language that is too emphatic. There is no way to overemphasize what we are presenting—the fact that a House of the Lord is about to rise in Australia will be the crowning event for the Church here at this time, when the blessings and ordinances of the gospel are made available.”

The member of the Quorum of the Twelve also indicated that the temple to be built in Sydney is only one of many temples the Lord wants constructed. “We want temples in great number, and we shall have them just as soon as the numbers [of members] warrant their construction.”

In recent years, the Church has grown steadily in Australia, which at present has a total of sixteen stakes, five of these in the Sydney Region. This is especially significant since the total national population is only fifteen million.

The temple will rest on an elevated site in Sydney’s Carlingsford section, with clear views across the city’s western suburbs to the Blue Mountains. More than three and one-half million people live in the metropolitan area.

At Sydney Temple groundbreaking: Left to right, Regional Representatives Ian G. Mackie, Donald Cummings, and P. Bruce Mitchell; Elder Bruce R. McConkie; Elder Rex D. Pinegar; Councillor Bernard Mullane, president of Baulkham Hills Shire Council (in whose local government area the temple is situated); and Walter B. Cottle, Director of Temporal Affairs for Australia-New Guinea and New Zealand-Fiji-Tahiti areas.