“A New Kind of Temple,” Global Histories: Hong Kong (2021)
“A New Kind of Temple,” Global Histories: Hong Kong
In July 1992 Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, traveled to Hong Kong to research sites for a temple. On the day of his arrival, local Church leaders took President Hinckley to half a dozen potential sites, explaining various possibilities in Hong Kong’s high-density, high-priced property market. By the end of the day, he did not feel they had found a suitable solution.
Early the next morning, around 3:00 a.m., President Hinckley awoke. As he thought about visiting more sites the coming day, in his mind the voice of the Spirit said, “Why are you worried about this? You have a wonderful piece of property.” In his mind he saw a multilevel building on the site of the mission home at 2 Cornwall Street in Kowloon Tong and quickly sketched it on a piece of paper.
The next day, President Hinckley continued visiting sites. At one site which seemed ideal in many ways, he went off by himself to pray and returned, declaring, “This is not the place.” He shared with local leaders the sketch of the building he had seen. After consulting with them, he settled on a multilevel building at 2 Cornwall Street, combining the functions of mission office and temple. Speaking at the temple dedication in May 1996, President Hinckley said, “If ever in my life I felt the inspiration of the Lord, it was with this building.”
The Hong Kong China Temple was honored in 1996 with the Architectural Design Excellence Award from the Hong Kong Institute of Architects. It set a Churchwide precedent for other multiuse temple buildings in dense urban areas.
The Hong Kong China Temple also set a precedent in adapting its schedule to meet local Saints’ needs. Many Hong Kong members were female domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia who had one set day off a week. Sisters with Sundays off were never able to attend the temple because it was closed on Sundays. In 2013 local leaders began to diligently inquire as to whether the temple could be opened on Sundays to accommodate these sisters.
On March 8, 2014, local leaders joyfully announced that the temple would be open on Sundays on a quarterly basis, beginning the following day. Fe Marzan, Relief Society president in the Peninsula Third Branch, was present at that first Sunday temple session. “The room was filled with happy saints,” she remembered. “Our eyes met and we couldn’t hold back the tears flowing down on our cheeks.”