“Four More Temples Dedicated,” Ensign, July 2000, 74–76
Three temples were recently dedicated in the United States—in Oregon, Nevada, and Tennessee—and a fourth temple was dedicated in Cochabamba, Bolivia, bringing the total number of operating temples to 82.
Medford Oregon Temple
President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Medford Oregon Temple in four sessions on 16 April 2000. “Wilt Thou touch the hearts of Thy people in this temple district that they may ever regard it with gratitude and appreciation,” he said in the dedicatory prayer, “that they may qualify themselves to come here as Thy servants and carry forward the great work for which it is designed.”
Accompanying President Faust were Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy, President of the North America Northwest Area; and Elder Michael T. Robinson, an Area Authority Seventy who was the first stake president of the Central Point Oregon Stake, in whose boundaries the new temple is located.
Nearly 8,000 Church members attended the dedication, and nearly 46,000 people toured the temple in a weeklong open house held the final week of March. An usher during the open house, Jean Gordon of the Redding First Ward, Redding California Stake, commented that some would walk into the temple quite casually but would “come out with a spirit of reverence about them.” One visitor, not a member of the Church, said she felt “a sweet feeling inside the temple.” A local clergyman said, “I had a certain sense that [the temple] was a very spiritual place.”
The Medford Oregon Temple, located midway between the Portland Oregon and Oakland California Temples, will serve more than 28,600 members living in six stakes in southern Oregon and three stakes in northern California.
Church members were anxious to begin attending the temple. Although the temple president was announced just the day before the dedication, two sessions were held the day after the dedication and one couple was sealed. The 10,700-square-foot temple is the second temple in Oregon.
Reno Nevada Temple
The Reno Nevada Temple was dedicated in four sessions on Easter Sunday, 23 April 2000. The open house, held 8–15 April, drew more than 38,000 visitors.
President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the temple. In the dedicatory prayer, President Monson said: “Bless all who have made possible this beautiful structure. May they gain satisfaction from the knowledge that they have had a part in creating this sacred edifice. May they recognize that it is no longer simply a building, but rather a house consecrated unto Thee and Thy Beloved Son, a place of holiness, a sanctuary of faith.
“We pray that the divine presence of this house in this community may be felt by all who pass by, that it may be looked upon with respect and appreciation.”
President Monson was accompanied by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Seventy, President of the North America Southwest Area.
The temple dedication was an emotional meeting for Vaughn and Wanda Abbott, who are both nearly 90. When the couple moved to the Reno area in the 1930s, there were fewer than 100 Church members in the area. After serving as a bishop and then a stake president as the Church continued to grow, Brother Abbott is now “just thrilled” that there is a temple in Reno.
After attending the open house, one visitor commented: “I feel there’s so much religious commitment with these people. I was particularly inspired by the focus on family values. I was taken and moved by that, by the importance of keeping the family together. It made me come away really feeling good.” A newspaper columnist wrote: “I was among 5,000 people who visited the final day of the open house. … I was among many non-Mormons delighted to experience the facility.”
The 10,852-square-foot temple, whose exterior is made of granite from a quarry near the Prophet Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Sharon, Vermont, will serve about 27,000 people in eight stakes of northern Nevada and northeast California. Members in these areas used to travel several hours to the Oakland California Temple.
Memphis Tennessee Temple
A total of 5,029 members attended the four dedicatory sessions of the Memphis Tennessee Temple on 23 April 2000.
President James E. Faust dedicated the temple. In giving the dedicatory prayer, he said: “Father, we thank Thee for this temple. It is an answer to our prayers. It will enrich the lives of countless thousands who will here seek blessings for themselves and stand as proxies in behalf of those who have passed beyond. May hearts leap with joy, and may smiles of satisfaction come to the faces of all who labor herein as they carry forward Thy work of salvation and exaltation.”
President Faust was accompanied by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Gordon T. Watts of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Southeast Area; and Elder James Griffin, an Area Authority Seventy.
During the temple’s open house from 8 to 15 April, 16,028 people toured “the holiest place in the county,” as one news program called it. A cameraman from another local television station said that when he saw the beauty of the temple he thought, “Oh, I could take pictures here all day.” A respected university and community leader commented, “The serenity here is contagious and uplifting.”
In preparation for the open house, Church members personally handed out invitations door-to-door, encouraging neighbors of the temple to attend. Many were excited for the opportunity because they had watched the majestic building take form during its yearlong construction.
The open house also included an information area in the temple’s adjacent stake center that was staffed by members and sister missionaries. A large supply of copies of the Book of Mormon from the Memphis Tennessee Stake, the Memphis Tennessee North Stake, and the Arkansas Little Rock Mission office was quickly depleted.
Bishop James Smith of the Florence Ward, Tupelo Mississippi Stake, said the Memphis Tennessee Temple will be a great blessing for the 16,000 members of the temple district, which includes northern Mississippi, southwestern Tennessee, and eastern Arkansas. Many members have not yet been able to attend the temple because “even just the five-hour trip to the nearest temple in Atlanta, Georgia, has been a hardship,” said Bishop Smith. “What an opportunity for these families!”
Based on the many temple appointments that have already been set, temple president Boyd Lee said the new edifice is sure to be busy.
Cochabamba Bolivia Temple
The Cochabamba Bolivia Temple was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley in four sessions on 30 April 2000. In his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley said: “This nation is named for Simón Bolívar, the great liberator of much of South America, who died the year Thy restored Church was organized. May the incomparable principle of democracy be preserved forever in this republic.
“We remember before Thee the sons and daughters of Father Lehi. Wilt Thou keep Thine ancient promises in their behalf. Lift from their shoulders the burdens of poverty and cause the shackles of darkness to fall from their eyes. May they rise to the glories of the past. May they recognize their Redeemer and be faithful and true Saints of the Most High.”
President Hinckley was accompanied by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy, President of the South America West Area.
The open house, which took place 17–22 April, drew nearly 65,000 visitors.
The open house had originally been scheduled for two weeks, but the first week had to be canceled when unrelated civil unrest paralyzed the city of Cochabamba. In spite of the cancellation, local Church leaders were pleased when they were still able to come close to their goal of 75,000 open house visitors. Church members and missionaries were also thrilled that 2,232 referrals were obtained.
The 33,302-square-foot Cochabamba Bolivia Temple will serve 112,000 members in the 21 stakes, 9 districts, and 10 branches of Bolivia. The temple complex also includes housing for temple patrons and the temple president and matron.