“Among Australian Landmarks, a House of the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 104–5
“This is a great occasion. There will never be another one like it in all of the history of Australia,” President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, told Saints gathered in Sydney September 20 at the dedication of the first temple in their country.
“There will be other temples here as the Church grows in this vast land,” he told members attending the first of fourteen dedicatory services for the Sydney Australia Temple.
“As we assemble here, a large audience of unseen eyes is witnessing. I believe the God of Heaven smiles on us this day. This temple is part of his plan,” President Hinckley continued. “I am satisfied that the Prophet Joseph smiles on us.” He mentioned also Elder Parley P. Pratt, one of the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve in this dispensation and once president of the South Pacific Mission, though he did not visit Australia. President Hinckley quoted from Elder Pratt’s hymn, “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee.”
Then he continued, “This marks the dawning of a brighter day for the Saints of Australia, those present and those yet to be.
In the unseen audience, it is a day of rejoicing. That audience includes missionaries who have served here, those who accepted the gospel wholeheartedly, and men and women of Australia who didn’t ever have the opportunity. …
They will rejoice with us over the prospects of having their work done, that the prison doors in another sphere will be opened to them, that they may go forth and enter into immortality and eternal life.”
In the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley spoke of “hearts filled with thanksgiving on this day when we dedicate thy holy house.
“We praise thy name. We worship thee in spirit and in truth. We love thee, Father. We love thy Son. We thank thee for his matchless life.”
President Hinckley expressed thanks for the Atonement, the Restoration, which brought back priesthood power to the earth, and for prophets, seers, and revelators. Then he continued:
“We thank thee for the strength of thy work in this great nation of Australia, for the hospitality accorded thy servants who have come here over a century of time to teach thine everlasting gospel, for all who have received it, and for the confirming witness of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
“Father, bless the land and the citizens of Australia. May this choice nation remain free from bondage, and may its people enjoy liberty and prosperity, now and in the generations to come. May they so live as to merit thy divine favor. May thy work grow among them, touching for everlasting good the hearts of an ever-increasing number of truth-seekers. May the people of thy Church be recognized as men and women of integrity, of industry, and of faith. May the example of their lives lead others to seek thy divine truth, and may thy work roll on in majesty and power in this land and among this people.”
He asked that the temple be accepted “as the gift of thy thankful sons and daughters. … May it be used with reverence and love by thy covenant children in accomplishing the sacred work for which it has been constructed. May it be as a beacon to thy Saints throughout the land. May it be as an anchor when the storms of life beat about them. May it be a place of holiness to which they may come, a house of sanctification, a house of prayer, a house of covenants.”
Other speakers at the dedication included members of the Quorum of the Twelve and D. Arthur Haycock, secretary to President Spencer W. Kimball.
Brother Haycock told the assembled Saints he had met with the president shortly before leaving for the airport to fly to Australia, and President Kimball gave him a message to convey: “I want President Hinckley to take to those people in far-off Australia my love and blessings.” And, for the youth, “President Kimball had three things he asked of young people: he would like them to prepare to serve a mission, get a good education, and marry in the temple.”
Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve also spoke at the dedication. He reflected on two thoughts which, he said, had stayed in his mind during the flight to Australia. The first was appreciation. He referred to modern commandments to be appreciative to God (see D&C 59:7, 21), expressing thanks for Church leaders who implemented the decision to build a temple in Australia, and “to you in this land for what you have done to make this day possible.”
The second of his themes was prayer. He admonished the Saints to pray constantly, telling them that they cannot pray too often.
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve also spoke, reviewing the history of temples and their importance to the Lord’s covenant people. He reminded those present that Saints must receive a recommend from their priesthood leaders. That opportunity “will be a blessing to you according to your worthiness, and a joy and satisfaction according to your obedience.”
Also speaking at the services were Bishop H. Burke Peterson, of the Presiding Bishopric, and Elders Wm. Grant Bangerter, Devere Harris, and Philip T. Sonntag of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
The temple is located in Carlingsford, nineteen kilometers (almost twelve miles) northwest of Sydney’s center, on the same site as the Church offices in Australia. Behind the temple, to the west, the land drops away to lush, green playing fields and plains, with the beautiful Blue Mountains about forty kilometers (nearly twenty-five miles) away. There are huge eucalyptus trees in the distance, and several on the site.
Thousands of Australians were drawn to tour the temple during the open house period before its dedication. Hundreds requested more information about the Church. Many were affected by the temple’s beauty and the spirit of peace and reverence they found there.
Most of the workers on the project were non-LDS, and many were curious about the temple. They turned to Brother Frank Hewstone, the Church’s project representative, for answers; frequently when he attempted to answer a worker’s question, there would be a group around before he was finished.
If the temple was impressive to those outside the Church before its completion, it was even more so when it was finished. Visitors seemed not only to feel the spirit of peace that was there, but to be moved to action. One young couple in their twenties approached a guide after touring the temple and asked where they could join the Church. A Seventh-day Adventist minister who took the tour seemed very friendly, asking “a million questions,” the guide recalled. Then the minister explained that he had been interested in genealogy for many years and had collected some three thousand names of members of his family. Would the LDS Church be interested in them?
Those who will feel the impact of the temple most immediately are members, of course. Its two ordinance rooms and three sealing rooms offer them the opportunity to make eternal covenants at last without an overseas trip. Elder Robert L. Simpson of the First Quorum of the Seventy, president of the Church’s Pacific Area, commented that the beneficial influences of the thousands of eternal marriages expected to be performed in the temple will “provide a blessing not only for the individuals involved, but for all Australia.”