President Hinckley Dedicates Temple, Visits Members ‘Down Under’

“President Hinckley Dedicates Temple, Visits Members ‘Down Under’” Ensign, Sept. 2003, 75–77

President Hinckley Dedicates Temple, Visits Members “Down Under”

In a whirlwind tour of Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated Australia’s fifth temple and encouraged Latter-day Saints to be faithful to the gospel and to each other.

Brisbane Australia Temple

Calling upon Heavenly Father to bless those who attend the temple and to bless the land of Australia, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Brisbane Australia Temple on 15 June 2003. It is the country’s fifth temple and the Church’s 115th.

“May all who come within these walls be worthy before Thee to enter into Thy presence,” President Hinckley said in the dedicatory prayer. “Incline the hearts of Thy people to come here frequently to engage in Thy service. May they love this Thy house and find sweet communion here.”

The Brisbane temple was dedicated in four sessions attended by more than 6,500 Saints. The sessions were broadcast via closed-circuit satellite transmissions to local stake centers. Located about 600 miles north of Sydney in Queensland’s capital city, the temple will serve the more than 23,000 Saints who live in Queensland and the northern areas of New South Wales.

“We’ve found here a very devoted people, a wonderful people,” said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who also participated in the dedication. “From the time we arrived last night … large groups gathered. They’re so anxious to see the prophet and [are] so grateful for the opportunity of having a temple.”

Patience and perseverance were essential for the Brisbane Saints during the long wait for the construction of their new temple. President Hinckley announced the temple in 1998. It was to be the first of four such announcements affecting Australia. Temples were announced for Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth shortly thereafter, joining the existing temple in Sydney.

However, concern from a local community group resulted in delays to the Brisbane project. After negotiations and some minor changes to the design, the Brisbane City Council approved the temple, and the groundbreaking took place in May 2001.

With the Brisbane dedication, the last of the new Australian temples is complete, and these sacred edifices now encircle Australia. Only in the United States, Mexico, and Canada are there more temples within the geographical boundaries of a nation.

Elder Brian and Sister Mildred Stafford, a senior missionary couple serving in the Aboriginal Reserve of Yarrabah near the city of Cairns, traveled more than 1,000 miles to the temple dedication.

“It’s marvelous to be here, especially after praying for a temple for so many years,” Elder Stafford said. “The temple, to us, is the most sacred place on earth.”

Hobart, Tasmania

Members in Tasmania are an important part of a great family that is found in more than 160 nations, said President Gordon B. Hinckley as he addressed a gathering on this Australian island state during a visit following the Brisbane temple dedication.

Speaking on 16 June to about 1,500 members, President Hinckley expressed his love and appreciation to members in “this great part of the world.” Although it was his fourth visit to Tasmania, it was his first visit as Church president—the first visit of any Church president. Members gathered in record numbers from throughout Tasmania on a pleasant winter evening and listened in wonder and reverence as they were addressed.

President Hinckley was accompanied by his wife, Marjorie. Also speaking in the meeting were Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy, President of the Australia/New Zealand Area.

President Hinckley appealed to the Saints to think of their blessings. “What a wonderful time it is to be alive—in this time of great opportunity, great possibilities.”

He cited 1 Peter 2:9, which refers to “an holy nation.” President Hinckley said, “I don’t think [Peter] was talking about a political organization. I don’t think he was making reference to the fact that we are Australians or New Zealanders or Americans or Englishmen. I think he was speaking of a family of faithful, wonderful people: ‘an holy nation.’”

“This great Church, which is now spreading over the earth in a wonderful, miraculous manner, becomes the family of God, an holy nation, in worship and spirit and truth,” he said.

Concluding his address, President Hinckley said, “God bless you, my fellow Latter-day Saints. How I love you. How I appreciate you. How I respect you. How I admire you, and pray for you, that the Lord will smile in favor upon you.”

In his remarks, Elder Johnson said, “We are blessed to have a prophet come to Tasmania. He wanted to come and meet you and share his testimony with you. I pray that as a result of this visit, our faith will be increased, our faithfulness will enlarge, and the testimony of this work will be reflected in our lives, that we might be disciples of Christ.”

Christchurch, New Zealand

On 17 June President Hinckley presided at a nationwide fireside in New Zealand. President Hinckley’s message was broadcast via satellite from the stake center in Christchurch to 25 stake centers throughout the country. The fireside was attended by approximately 18,000 Latter-day Saints and local dignitaries. President Hinckley’s message was one of admiration for the people of New Zealand, of family values, and of the need to remain close to the Lord during everyday life.

Elder L. Tom Perry spoke on the importance of family home evening, and Elder Kenneth Johnson conducted the meeting.

President Hinckley invited his wife, Marjorie, to join him at the lectern. He put his arm around her and told the audience that for more than 66 years she has stood by his side and that they had five children, a host of grandchildren, and more great-grandchildren than he could count. He joked that he and Sister Hinckley were a little shorter now, to which Sister Hinckley rose up on her toes and smiled at the audience, to their great pleasure.

This was the first visit to the South Island of New Zealand by a Prophet of the Lord. President Hinckley informed his enthralled audience that he had been to Christchurch on several occasions before being called as president and had retained a special place in his heart for New Zealand ever since he accompanied President David O. McKay in dedicating the Hamilton New Zealand Temple in 1958.

Port Vila, Vanuatu

More members than anyone had ever seen before on the island of Port Vila, Vanuatu, assembled on 19 June for the biggest event in local Church history—a visit from President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Some 2,200 members gathered from throughout this island chain. In the largest Church meetinghouse on the island, they filled classrooms, sat outside the chapel where they watched through louvered windows, and clustered around doorways and on the lawn.

“I was surprised to see all these people,” said pioneering member Tony Mahit, who joined the Church in 1981.

President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, walked into the meetinghouse on bright yarn-fringed woven mats, placed in their honor, and were given shell necklaces. They were seated on a stand wreathed in tropical flowers of oranges and reds.

President Hinckley met with priesthood leaders and government dignitaries before the meeting. He was accompanied by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Ronald D. Halverson of the Seventy, President of the Pacific Islands Area, both of whom also spoke.

“My dear beloved brothers and sisters, what a great pleasure, what a great privilege and opportunity to be here,” President Hinckley said as he looked over the congregation in a land where the Church has been established for only about two decades.

President Hinckley reminded members that the Lord expects each of them to become acquainted with Him. Every man and woman in the Church should be able to stand and say “I know God our Eternal Father lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of the world.”

The Lord also expects members to serve in whatever capacity they are asked, he said. “We think we are inadequate to do the work when we are asked, but the Lord blesses us and magnifies us and makes us equal to the responsibility as we fulfill our callings,” he said.

President Hinckley also encouraged members to pay their tithing, which is “a matter of faith.” He said the Lord would pour out a blessing upon faithful tithe payers, and “I can testify that He keeps His promises.”

“President Hinckley has given us a blessing,” said G. Paul Hilliman, president of the Port Vila Vanuatu District. “The lights are on in Vanuatu. We will achieve good things.”

Christmas Island, Kiribati

During a brief stop on Christmas Island on 19 June, President Hinckley promised the Latter-day Saints who gathered to meet him that if they will “be true to the faith, marvelous things will happen.”

“Live the gospel,” he told the crowd, which also included numerous missionaries. “Study the gospel. Pray about the gospel. Be true to the faith and marvelous things will happen. You will raise missionaries who will go out among the islands of the Pacific and teach the gospel. You will be blessed in your lives. You will enjoy greater comfort and all of the good things of life if you will live the gospel.”

Christmas Island is part of the island nation of Kiribati in the Pacific. Members and missionaries on the island—where there is little or no infrastructure—live in grass huts without water or electricity.

“My dear brothers and sisters, I am so happy to be here with you,” President Hinckley told them during his brief visit. “You look wonderful to me. I am very grateful to you that you have joined the Church and that you are active. This will bless your lives.”

President Hinckley told the crowd that he wished he could spend more than a few minutes on the island. He also expressed the desire to shake hands with every member—something time would not permit.

Then President Hinckley told the members to listen to the missionaries. “They will bless your lives.” In conclusion, he said, “I just want to say to each of you that we love you. We are very proud of you. We are grateful to you. We will remember you in our prayers that God will bless you and sustain you and comfort you in your times of need. We leave our love with you. We leave our testimony with you.”

Australia/New Zealand Public Affairs, Pacific Islands Public Affairs, and Church News contributed to this article.

Brisbane Temple Wins Construction Award

The Brisbane Australia Temple was named the 2003 “Brisbane Project of the Year” by the Queensland Master Builders Association. “On viewing the Brisbane temple, judges commented on the intricate finishes, including the granite cladding, coffered and domed ceilings, timber panelling and mouldings, marble floor tiling, gold leaf and decorative artwork, and the array of symbolic features,” the QMBA stated.

In addition to being the overall winner, the Brisbane temple also won in the category of “Community Service Facilities.”

The Brisbane Australia Temple is situated atop cliffs overlooking Queensland’s capital city. Dedicated in June, the temple is Australia’s fifth and the Church’s 115th.

Brian and Mildred Stafford traveled 1,000 miles for the dedication of a temple they prayed would be built. (Photograph by Alan Wakely.)

President Gordon B. Hinckley greets Bob Parker of the Banks Peninsula District Council in Christchurch, New Zealand. Gordon W. Ryan, Christchurch Stake public affairs director, and Colleen S. Ryan, stake Relief Society president, look on. (Photograph courtesy of Australia/New Zealand Public Affairs.)

Sisters in Vanuatu gather flowers to decorate the stand where President and Sister Hinckley would sit during their meeting with members on this island nation. (Photograph by John L. Hart, Church News.)

President Hinckley greets members who gathered to meet him on a beach on Christmas Island. The prophet stopped briefly to offer encouragement to the Saints. (Photograph coutesy of Office of the President.)