“Four Temples Dedicated,” Ensign, Sept. 2000, 72–73
For the first time in history, a Church President dedicated four temples during the same trip. In late June, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated temples in Fukuoka, Japan; in Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia; and in Suva, Fiji. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles accompanied President Hinckley for each of the dedications.
Fukuoka Japan Temple
President Hinckley dedicated the Fukuoka Japan Temple, the second to be built in that island nation, in four sessions on 11 June 2000. “Bless Thy Saints of this great nation,” said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer. “Bless them among the millions of this land that by the virtue of their lives they may stand as a city upon a hill whose light cannot be hid.” Attending the dedication with President Hinckley and Elder Holland was Elder L. Lionel Kendrick of the Seventy, then President of the Asia North Area.
Some 3,000 members attended the dedication of the temple, located on Kyushu, a main island in the southern part of Japan. Some 5,000 visitors, including many government leaders, attended the 1–3 June open house; hundreds of visitors asked to learn more about the Church. One VIP commented, “Before I came to the open house, I determined that I would not change my preconceived ideas about this Christian church. As I walked through the temple, I repeated this to myself over and over. But when I entered the celestial room, I felt my preconceptions change.”
The area in which the temple now stands was special to the members of Fukuoka even before the temple was built. One of the first meetinghouses of Kyushu and later the former mission headquarters were previously located on the temple site.
The timing at which the temple came was also impressive, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of missionary work in Japan. “When a temple was announced for Fukuoka, it was beyond our expectations,” said Ryosho Nakamura, a longtime Church member and leader in Kyushu. “On the day of the dedication, we felt strongly that the Fukuoka temple is truly the house of the Lord. Feelings of joy, gladness, and gratitude filled our hearts.”
Adelaide Australia Temple
The Adelaide Australia Temple was dedicated on 15 June 2000. “We are grateful for this nation of Australia, where there is freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, and freedom to take upon ourselves the name of our divine Redeemer, and to keep sacred the covenants which we make with Him,” said President Hinckley in the dedication prayer. “May this be a day of rejoicing on both sides of the veil.”
Elders Kenneth Johnson and Victor D. Cave of the Seventy, then First and Second Counselors in the Australia/New Zealand Area Presidency, attended the dedication.
Some 2,500 members attended the four dedicatory sessions. The temple’s 3–10 June open house was attended by nearly 50,000 visitors.
For members of the Church in Adelaide, the building of the temple was a strengthening experience. Community interest ran high after numerous stories appeared in the media describing the temple construction. Then, in the two weeks before the open house, an extensive radio and newspaper advertising campaign invited the public to tour the new building.
New temples in Australia are a visible evidence of strong Church growth in this nation. The Church here has grown from just 3,000 members in 1955 to 100,000 members today. In the latest census of Australia, the Church was the fastest-growing Christian faith.
Melbourne Australia Temple
On 16 June 2000 the Melbourne Australia Temple was dedicated in four sessions. “Henceforth [the temple] will be open only to those who are properly recommended as worthy to enter its portals. … May they leave rejoicing, standing taller as sons and daughters of God, with strengthened resolve to walk in Thy paths,” President Hinckley said in the dedicatory prayer. “Bless this land that it may remain ever strong, a nation of peace and progress among the nations of the earth.”
Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy, then President of the Australia/New Zealand Area, attended the dedication with President Hinckley and Elder Holland.
Good weather smiled on the proceedings, which were attended by over 5,000 members.
The new temple is a great blessing for the Saints in its temple district of Tasmania and Victoria, said Murray Lobley, president of the Pakenham stake. “For 16 years we have traveled the 1,500 miles round trip to the Sydney temple.”
Suva Fiji Temple
President Hinckley dedicated the Suva Fiji Temple on 18 June 2000. Because of political unrest in the country, the dedication was limited to one session.
In his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley petitioned for peace in Fiji. “We pray, dear Father, that these beautiful islands may be blessed with peace, that there shall be no abridgment of the great freedom of worship afforded by the government of this land. May Thy Saints be recognized as good citizens, and may Thy work grow and flourish in this favored part of Thy vineyard.”
At the dedication, President Hinckley and Elder Holland were joined by the Pacific Islands Area President, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Seventy.
In spite of civil unrest, the open house was able to proceed on 7–10 and 12 June, with approximately 16,323 attending. During the dedication, which 60 members attended, indigenous Fijian members mingled in love and unity with Indian members, despite the political friction that exists between the two peoples in their country.
Although only a small number of members were able to attend the quiet dedication and cornerstone ceremony, President Hinckley expressed hope that the joy of having a temple in Fiji would more than make up for members’ disappointment in not being able to attend. Some Fijian members were able to see President Hinckley when they ran to see his car on his route from the Suva airport to the temple. One small boy held up a sign that read, “We love the prophet!”