Milestones for Four New Temples
November 1996

“Milestones for Four New Temples,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 105–6

Milestones for Four New Temples

Ground was broken for two temples recently, and the First Presidency announced plans to build the Church’s 63rd temple. In addition, almost 680,000 people toured the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple prior to its dedication.

Guayaquil Ecuador Temple

Temples are “tangible evidence of our certainty that there is a life after this one,” said Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as he presided at the 10 August ground-breaking ceremony of the Guayaquil Ecuador Temple.

Attendance at the temple site was limited to stake presidents and their wives and a few other invited guests, but almost 10,500 people gathered in the nearby Guayaquil Coliseum to hear the proceedings via local radio.

Accompanying Elder Scott were Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy, president of the South America North Area, who conducted the meeting, and Elder Julio E. Dávila of the Seventy, then first counselor in the Area Presidency, who gave an address.

During his remarks, Elder Scott said that within the temple “our sons and daughters are sealed to us for eternity. And not only can we do this magnificent work of incredible significance for those who live, but also through vicarious ordinances we can perform those same ordinances for our ancestors who were not able to enjoy the blessings of the gospel during their sojourn on earth.”

He invited members to “prepare spiritually to enter the temple. Use the time of construction of the temple to identify your ancestors. It is not difficult to obtain the instructions from your wards and your branches on how to prepare the names of your ancestors, so when the temple is dedicated here we may enter therein and do their work. …

“In a special way, I wish to give my testimony of the validity of the ordinances done in the temple,” he continued. “I have experienced a great consolation in my own life to know that our two children who died are sealed to us. Now my wife has gone on ahead of me, across that veil, and I have great consolation in the certainty that she lives and that I will have the privilege of dwelling with her in the presence of God if I am true and faithful.”

During his remarks, Elder Dávila paid tribute to the pioneers of the restored gospel, including the Prophet Joseph Smith and President Brigham Young. He also paid tribute to the pioneers of the Church in Ecuador, who in the past 30 years have “sacrificed, dedicated themselves, and continued in faith—the presidents of stakes and branches, the presidents of missions. These have worked enthusiastically on many occasions to make this moment a reality.”

Elder Dávila noted that there are many in the world who, in an effort to be closer to the Savior, would walk the paths of the Holy Land. “But for me,” he noted, “it seems it would be a greater blessing to enter the temple and walk where Jesus walks.”

Plans for the Guayaquil temple were announced 14 years ago in March 1982, by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball.

Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple

A week after breaking ground for a temple in Ecuador, Elder Scott also broke ground for the first temple in the Caribbean, the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple. Accompanying Elder Scott was Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy, president of the North America Southeast Area. Elder Dale E. Miller, Area Authority, conducted the ceremony.

Church members began to gather four hours before the 18 August ground-breaking ceremony on the temple site, a beautiful, tree-covered, slightly elevated parcel of ground in Santo Domingo that has a breathtaking view of the ocean. Nearly 4,000 people attended the ceremony.

During his remarks, Elder Scott explained to the large crowd that temples are different from meetinghouses. He noted that everyone would be invited to attend the open house but that only temple-worthy Church members would be able to enter and perform the sacred ordinances once the building was dedicated.

Elder Scott invited members in the audience to imagine that they were with him in a private interview as he explained the purpose of eternal marriage and contrasted it with the marriage of the world, which is based on a contract that lasts only until death. He then challenged members in the audience to have a temple recommend with them from the time of the dedication onward, and he offered suggestions on how they should live their lives as members of the Church in a country that will enjoy the presence of a temple.

Those suggestions included making Jesus Christ the center of their lives, determining to follow his teachings, and seeking his will and making it their own.

In his address, Elder Howard explained the purpose of temples. He began by noting that a large group of missionaries had walked nearly three miles from a nearby chapel to attend the ceremony. When those missionaries arrived at the temple site, they assembled on the east side of a rope barrier. Many of their families and loved ones were across the road on the opposite side of the barrier. Elder Howard had watched as these loved ones strained to wave to the missionaries. He observed that many parents wanted to reach out and touch their children, but they could not because of the barrier set up for the ceremony.

Elder Howard used this as an analogy, explaining how tragic it would be in the next life if families were separated by barriers. He told the audience that the purpose of the temple was to enable families and loved ones to live together forever, and he testified that this could not happen without the ordinances performed in the temple of God.

Temple in Billings, Montana

The First Presidency announced that the Church’s 63rd temple will be built in Billings, Montana. The new temple will serve about 58,000 members in 21 stakes in Montana, South Dakota, and northern Wyoming. Land has already been acquired for the building, and construction will begin once architectural drawings are complete and necessary governmental approvals are obtained.

Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple

The announcement of the temple in Montana came during the open house for the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple. During the open house, which ran from 10 August to 21 September, 679,217 people toured the temple. In addition, thousands of members from 43 stakes in the temple district volunteered their time during the open house, working on the facilities and grounds, cleaning up before the open house and during, and acting as guides and ushers.

Among the highlights for many open house visitors were art-glass windows with prisms embedded in the glass, refracting light into its colorful spectrum. Other visitors commented on the furnishings and features, including crystal chandeliers in the celestial and marriage ordinance rooms.

The Church’s 49th operating temple was scheduled to be dedicated beginning on 13 October in 27 separate sessions extending through 19 October.

Work is proceeding on temples in St. Louis, Missouri; Preston, England; Vernal, Utah; and Bogotá, Colombia. In addition to the Guayaquil and Santo Domingo temples, ground has been broken for a temple in Madrid, Spain. Temples have also been announced for Boston, Massachusetts; White Plains, New York; Nashville, Tennessee; Monterrey, Mexico; Cochabamba, Bolivia; and Recife, Brazil.


Almost 680,000 people toured the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple during the open house. (Photo by Maren Mecham.)


Elder Richard G. Scott, center, and other dignitaries participate in ground breaking for Guayaquil Ecuador Temple.


Local members provided special choir numbers for temple ground-breaking ceremonies in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.