“Portland Temple Dedicated,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 106–7
Nearly forty-one thousand Church members came from throughout Oregon and southwestern Washington to attend the dedication of the Portland Oregon Temple August 19 through 21.
President Ezra Taft Benson; President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency; and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, each presided over some of the dedicatory sessions.
Speakers at the eleven dedicatory sessions included all members of the Quorum of the Twelve; three members of the Presidency of the Seventy; five members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy; Bishop Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric; and Relief Society general president Barbara W. Winder.
The dedicatory sessions were relayed via closed-circuit television to members in rooms throughout the temple, allowing each session to accommodate nearly four thousand members.
“God bless you who will join in the great temple work of the Lord,” President Benson said as he presided over one of the dedicatory sessions on August 19. “I thank the Lord for you and for all that you do.”
“The Lord is blessing this work,” he affirmed.
President Hinckley delivered the dedicatory prayer during the first session.
The prayer expressed gratitude for “the great eternal purposes for which this house has been erected” and for “thy holy priesthood, which will be exercised herein.”
The temple, it was noted, “stands in quiet splendor among the trees of the forest. It is a place of peace and holiness, a refuge from the storms of life, a sanctuary in which to worship thee ‘in spirit and in truth.’” (John 4:23.)
The prayer supplicated Heavenly Father to “accept this house as a gift of thy thankful people.”
In his remarks during one of the dedicatory sessions, President Hinckley spoke of the temple as a place “where we all stand equally before the Lord.” In a world saturated with evil, he said, “we need the peace, the solemn, wonderful peace of the house of the Lord, where we may gather in His holy name and do His sacred work.” He spoke of a “balm,” a “healing” available in temples that is found in no other place.
President Monson said that the temple is “a refuge for those who are carrying more burdens than they should. As we incur tremendous burdens, our progress is impaired.” But in the temple, he said, those burdens can be lifted. This leaves us better prepared to meet the challenges of life and to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.
During the sessions at which they spoke, President Hinckley and President Monson frequently encouraged the children who were attending with their parents to learn to love the temple and to come back to do baptisms for the dead when they are twelve.
Larry and Beckie Beck and their family, of Grants Pass, Oregon, were among those who attended the dedication. They drove the four hours from their home to the temple after spending time during previous weeks studying about temples, participating in a special fast, and offering family prayers specifically in preparation for the dedication.
Larry, second counselor in the elders quorum presidency of the Grants Pass Fourth Ward, said a spirit of peace descended on the family as they made their preparations. “It really changed our lives for the better as we were working together to make sure we were worthy to enter the temple and feel the Spirit of the Lord.” Beckie, who serves as Primary secretary in their ward, commented: “I am so excited to go back, and to keep going back. Being part of the dedication makes you feel that it is your temple, and it’s up to you to keep it going and busy.”
Church members turned to keeping the temple busy immediately following its dedication. In the first four days following its opening for ordinance work, youth were baptized vicariously for eight thousand deceased individuals. Thirty marriage sealings took place in the first weekend.
Another member who took part in the dedication commented, “The spirit of the place absolutely overwhelmed me.” Joan Caldwell of Wilsonville (about ten miles south of the temple) explained that the temple “is no longer just a beautiful building.” It is, in a sense, spiritually alive now because the Lord has accepted it.
Many of the 314,260 individuals who toured the temple before its dedication felt that same spirit. One non-LDS visitor wrote in the guest register that he was awed by the “holy feeling that came over me.” Another said, “I saw the light of God” in the face of every guide. Commented still another: “Makes you feel like you’re already in heaven!”