At the close of the April 2000 general conference, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley announced plans to construct a temple near Helsinki as part of the Church’s efforts in “bringing temples to the people.” In time, a site was selected in the town of Espoo in a wooded area. On March 29, 2003, a groundbreaking ceremony was held, attended by about 600 Church members. Elder D. Lee Tobler of the Seventy offered a prayer to dedicate the site, and local Church leaders recalled the history of the Church in Finland. Ismo U. Määttä, president of the Helsinki Finland Stake at the time, noted, “The temple is a blessing to our entire country. It is heaven in the midst of chaos, and there we can find heavenly peace.”
Construction of the temple proceeded over the next three years and was completed in 2006. In September and October 2006, a public open house was held. About 56,000 people visited the temple during that time, providing opportunities for Church members to better inform friends and neighbors about the Church in Finland. One Latter-day Saint woman described her colleagues’ reaction, saying, “Now they understand my life. It is not strange to them anymore.” On the eve of the dedication, 7,000 people gathered for a celebratory concert in which Church members from the nations of the new temple district—Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—took part.
The next day, October 22, President Hinckley dedicated the Helsinki Finland Temple in services that were broadcast to tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints throughout eastern Europe. “May [Finland] ever be respected and honored among the nations of the earth,” he prayed as he concluded the dedication.