“Saints Throng to Temple in Mexico City,” Ensign, Feb. 1984, 74–75
Saints Throng to Temple in Mexico City
Mexico, a land of many ancient structures that men call temples, now has a temple of the Lord. It is a house dedicated to our Heavenly Father by “thy thankful people,” as indicated in the words of the dedicatory prayer offered by President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency.
“We must recognize that this day in Mexico is one of the most important in the history of the nation,” President Hinckley said at the first of nine dedicatory services for the Mexico Temple. While previous events in the nation’s history have been only mortal in scope, dedication of the sacred edifice brought the beginning of accomplishments that will be “everlasting, as eternal as God is eternal,” he explained.
It was the sixth temple dedicated during 1983.
In offering the prayer of dedication December 2, President Hinckley expressed thanks for a living prophet and asked for the blessings of God on President Spencer W. Kimball. “Bless thy faithful Saints throughout the world. Leave us not alone. Prosper us as we walk in obedience to thy commandments,” he added.
“Father, we thank thee for the many thousands in this part of thy vineyard whose hearts have been touched by the power of thy Spirit and who have taken upon them the name of thy son Jesus Christ and entered into solemn and binding covenants with thee and with him.
“May the harvest that we have witnessed here foreshadow greater things to come as thy work rolls on in power and majesty in this the dispensation of the fulness of times,” he said.
He pronounced the dedication of the structure, then added, “Wilt thou accept it as the gift of thy thankful people, presented and dedicated unto thee as thy house. We pray that thou and thy Son may visit it according to thy will and that thy Holy Spirit may always dwell here.”
Some 3,200 Saints attended the first dedicatory service for the temple, which was televised by closed-circuit broadcast to several rooms in the building. In all, more than 30,000 attended the nine dedicatory services. Many local members served as ushers or sang in choirs.
“As I look over the faces of this great audience and choirs who have sung so beautifully, I can see the expressions of Father Lehi,” President Hinckley said in his address prior to the dedicatory prayer. “I feel that he must be weeping tears of joy on this day in contrast to tears of sadness that he must have shed over the centuries.
President Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve also spoke at the first service, emphasizing the importance of the temple in the lives of individuals and families.
“Members of the Church have been commanded to stand in holy places, such as this temple, in order to withstand the evils of the latter days. This temple will serve as a remembrance to Mexican members that families are to be eternal.
“God has not left man alone in this world. This temple is a place of personal revelation where man can learn the order of heaven,” he said. “There is a power here to thwart the forces of evil through covenants made by worthy Latter-day Saints.”
Several other General Authorities also attended the temple dedication, including Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve; Elders J. Thomas Fyans and Richard G. Scott of the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elders W. Grant Bangerter and Teddy E. Brewerton of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and Bishop H. Burke Peterson, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. Elder Scott is Executive Administrator for the Mexico South/Central America Area, and Elder Brewerton is Executive Administrator for the Mexico North Area. Elder Bangerter is Executive Director of the Temple Department.
With more than 126,000 square feet of floor space, the Mexico Temple is the fifth largest in the Church. It includes four ordinance rooms and twelve sealing rooms. Situated near Bosque de Aragon, one of the principal parks of Mexico City, the building is faced with white cast stone covered with a design described by Church architect Emil B. Fetzer as “a modern adaptation of ancient Mayan architecture.” A statue of Moroni tops its center tower.
Its architecture and construction have drawn favorable comment from the President of the Church and from Mexican citizens alike.
Brother Fetzer, who also spoke at the dedication, recalled receiving the assignment to design the temple from President Kimball. As he undertook the task, Brother Fetzer’s thoughts turned to a book on Mayan architecture given to him by Heber Grant Taylor, a grandson of President Heber J. Grant, eighteen years ago. The book had come from President Grant’s library and was important to his family, but, Brother Taylor explained, he and his wife felt impressed to give it to Brother Fetzer.
When the assignment came to design the Mexico Temple, Brother Fetzer reread that book and determined that he should produce a design to harmonize with Mayan architecture, the “classic architecture” of the New World. But in order that Church leaders could have a choice in the design, he also produced four other designs. As the First Presidency examined each of the proposed designs, they agreed that the Mayan plan was right for the temple.
The new temple has been the focus of favorable attention from the school of architecture at the University of Mexico, which frequently sends students to study it, and from the office of the mayor of Mexico City, where it has been cited as an example of both attractive design and quality construction.
More than 110,000 people toured the temple during its open house period, November 9–19. Among the visitors were thousands of government, business, and civic leaders. Many requested more information about the Church. Mission presidents in the Mexico City area estimate that as a direct result of the temple open house, missionaries have made nearly 2,900 requested visits.
One prominent lawyer, who brought his wife, daughters, and their families to the temple, commented that he was awed by the “sanctity and tranquility” of the building. Members of his family asked many questions and expressed interest in learning more about the Church through the missionaries. Another visitor reported that he toured the temple not necessarily to see the building, but to experience the feeling of peace and tranquility he had heard was present there.
Among the Saints attending the temple dedication was a group of Central Americans who had traveled by bus for more than thirty hours, at great personal sacrifice, to reach Mexico City. Because of their travel schedule, before returning home they participated in ordinances and sealings during the temple’s first sessions, which began the afternoon of December 5.