“Temple Groundbreaking in Billings, Montana,” Ensign, May 1998, 119–20
On 28 March more than 4,800 people gathered beneath sandstone rimrocks during a spring snowstorm to witness the groundbreaking of the Billings Montana Temple. The North America Central Area Presidency was present, with Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy presiding and his counselors Elder Kenneth Johnson and Elder Lynn G. Robbins, both of the Seventy, giving addresses. Billings mayor Charles F. Tooley attended the ceremony, as did several city council members, city administrators and staff, and local clergy.
Stating that the groundbreaking day was also the birthday of his father, who had passed away 16 years before, Elder Pinnock said: “I hope that he is witnessing this groundbreaking today. It is because of temples that he and Mother and those of their family will be together again, because we have been sealed.”
Elder Pinnock challenged those living within the temple district—which covers some 60,000 members in Montana, northern Wyoming, North Dakota, and western South Dakota—to accomplish three tasks before the temple is dedicated: “Live the commandments and be the best neighbors and missionaries you know how to be. Prepare a temple-ready file so you may come here in just 18 months to accomplish the vital ordinances and covenants for your relatives. Continue to teach our youth to be worthy so they will be able to [be baptized for] those that have died and to prepare for their own eternal marriages.”
After the ceremony, Billings East Stake president Michael G. Bowman said: “When I arrived and saw the crowd all huddled together, my heart was really warmed. This is a momentous occasion for us. The Saints in this area are becoming stronger and stronger, and we feel a greater commitment, a greater love for the Lord.”
A choir of 700 youth from throughout the temple district sang at the groundbreaking. “This has been one of the most beautiful days of my life,” said 17-year-old choir member Maggie Koernig of the Billings Eighth Ward. “Just sitting here and feeling the energy of all of us being together and strong in the faith and knowing that it is true was really awesome. Even though it was really bad weather, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, being able to see the groundbreaking and know that some day I can go in that temple and be married.”
With completion projected in 18 to 24 months, the Billings temple will be approximately 33,000 square feet, with a 117-foot central spire and an exterior of Wyoming white dolomite and tan aggregate sandstone.