‘A Milestone in Church History’ Reached: 100 Temples
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“‘A Milestone in Church History’ Reached: 100 Temples,” Liahona, Jan. 2001, 125–28

“A Milestone in Church History” Reached: 100 Temples

President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Boston Massachusetts Temple, the 100th operating temple of the Church, in four sessions on 1 October 2000.

In his dedicatory prayer he said, “Almighty Father, … in humility and with solemn reverence we bow before Thee on this historic day.

“We are assembled to dedicate this Thy holy house. It is a special occasion. This temple becomes the 100th operating temple of Thy Church.

“We have looked forward to this occasion. We have prayed for this day. We extend our gratitude to all who have labored so faithfully and diligently, often in the face of serious opposition, to bring to pass the miracle of the completion of this temple.

“To us it is indeed a miracle. The ground on which it stands, the circumstances of its preservation for this use, and the decision to build it here—all are miracles unto those who have been a part of this process.

“Now it is ready for the purposes for which it has been constructed. We are deeply grateful. We thank Thee for Thy marvelous and overruling actions which have made all of this possible.”

President Hinckley was accompanied by President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Northeast Area Presidency.

“This is a milestone in Church history,” said President Hinckley at the dedication of the temple, which marks the achievement of a goal he expressed in the April 1998 general conference that 100 temples be completed by the end of the year 2000.

Some 16,800 members participated in the Boston temple’s dedicatory sessions. Thousands more watched the ceremonies via satellite broadcast at meetinghouses in the temple district.

The dedication of this 100th temple did more than capture the attention of local Church members and many more worldwide; 82,600 guests attended its open house (held from 29 August to 23 September, except Sundays), which received extensive media coverage. A local radio station and newspaper produced the first on-line tours of a temple, complete with narration and accompanying photographs of the temple’s interior.

Because of a lawsuit filed by some local residents who objected to the temple’s proposed steeple, the temple was dedicated without a steeple. Yet in a press conference on the eve of the dedication, President Hinckley expressed optimism concerning the issue.

“We wish the steeple were on it. I regret that it isn’t. But we can get along without it while awaiting the outcome of the legal action,” he said. “In the meantime, we’ll go forward performing the ordinance work of this sacred house.”

In the weeks prior to the dedication of the Boston temple, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated four other temples, located throughout the Americas.

Caracas Venezuela Temple

The Caracas Venezuela Temple, the first in that nation, was dedicated in four sessions on 20 August 2000. “We pray for this great nation of Venezuela,” said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer. “May it hold its place among the sovereign nations of the earth. May its people be blessed and prospered. May they enjoy freedom to worship Thee without molestation of any kind. Bless the leaders of the nation with wisdom and understanding and a great desire to serve the needs of the people.”

Accompanying President Hinckley were Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Robert J. Whetten of the Seventy, President of the South America North Area.

The temple open house, held on 5 and 7–12 August, drew 27,806 visitors. “Many left the temple in tears,” said Jorge Alberto Ruiz, president of the Caracas Venezuela Urdaneta Stake. “One woman walked out and asked, ‘What next? How can I be a part of this Church?’”

Nearly 6,000 members from throughout Venezuela attended the dedication. “Having the prophet dedicate the temple in our country is something I will always remember,” said Carlos Ordeneta of Maracaibo, Venezuela, who traveled 10 hours with many other Maracaibo members to attend. “The temple is the best thing that has ever happened to Venezuela.”

Houston Texas Temple

President Hinckley dedicated the Houston Texas Temple in eight sessions on 26–27 August 2000. “How glorious and complete is Thy plan for the salvation and exaltation of Thy children of all generations. How tremendous is our obligation to carry forward this great vicarious work in their behalf,” he said in the dedicatory prayer. “Bless the families of the Church with security and unity. … Let them feel of Thine overpowering love.”

Accompanying President Hinckley at the dedication were Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Southwest Area Presidency. More than 20,000 members attended the services.

The open house (held from 5 to 22 August, except Sundays), drew 110,000 visitors. Guests were impressed by the beauty and spirit of the new temple; for example, one woman who turned into the temple parking lot by mistake decided to stay and tour the building.

The Church has grown significantly in southeast Texas since the first stake was organized in Houston in 1953; now there are 22 stakes in the Houston area alone. “Today, our stakes are as strong as you will find anywhere,” said Sterling Pack, a local branch president. Having a temple in Houston will make frequent temple attendance possible for nearby members, who previously traveled seven hours to reach the Dallas Texas Temple.

Birmingham Alabama Temple

President Hinckley dedicated the Birmingham Alabama Temple in four sessions on 3 September 2000. In his dedicatory prayer, he asked, “May the influence of this Thy house be felt throughout this great temple district. May the Church grow and prosper here. May those in government be friendly to Thy people. Let Thy Holy Spirit lead those called to preach the gospel that they may seek out and find those who will accept the everlasting truth revealed in this the dispensation of the fulness of times. May all who come into the Church remain faithful and true and advance in maturity and worthiness to participate in the sacred activities of Thy house.”

With President Hinckley were Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Gordon T. Watts of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Southeast Area Presidency. Nearly 5,000 Church members attended the dedication.

The new temple and members of the Church in Alabama received positive media attention. After attending the open house (held on 19 and 21–26 August), which drew 21,000 visitors, one newspaper reporter wrote, “Entering the sacred temple, … visitors are greeted with open arms. A portrait of Jesus holding out his arms to welcome those [who enter] the temple hangs on the wall.” A letter to the editor in another paper, written by a Birmingham man, said, “Having lived for some 70 years and having had a number of next-door neighbors, I can truthfully tell you the Mormons are the best of neighbors you can ever expect to find.”

The members in the temple district have eagerly awaited the temple’s advent. “In the last year, I’ve done more first-time temple recommend interviews than the previous five years,” said Birmingham Alabama Stake president Richard D. May. “Our members have been so excited. They’ve been working more diligently on their family history. During our open house, I saw a lot of less-active members come out. They said, ‘We’re ready to get back to living the gospel.’”

Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple

President Hinckley dedicated the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple in four sessions on 17 September 2000. “Dear Father, please look down with love upon Thy sons and daughters in this island nation and in surrounding lands,” he petitioned in his dedicatory prayer. “Prosper them in their labors that they may have food upon their tables and shelter over their heads. As they look to Thee, reward their faith and open Thy hand of providence toward them. May they find peace in the midst of conflict, and faith amidst the stress of the world. Open the windows of heaven, as Thou hast promised, and let blessings flow down upon them.”

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Richard D. Allred of the Seventy, President of the North America Southeast Area, also participated in the dedicatory services. Some 10,000 Dominicans and their neighbors from Haiti, Puerto Rico, and other islands gathered to witness the dedication of the temple, the first to be built in the West Indies.

“This is the most special day in the history of our country,” said Georgina Rosario, a Dominican woman who joined the Church a decade ago. “Our country and our families will be strengthened because of the influence of the temple.”

The temple open house, held daily except Sundays from 26 August through 9 September, attracted nearly 40,000 people. After touring the temple, a local journalist reported: “Within the temple, one receives the impression of being in another world, … mostly because of the images of Christ displayed throughout the building. Nothing in the country can compare with this temple. Its beauty is without equal.”

The Santo Domingo temple will be an especially significant blessing to the members in its district, which includes the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and small surrounding islands. Economic limitations have kept most of these members from attending the closest temples, in the United States or Guatemala.

The experience of Roland Ciochy, a member of the Jacmel Branch on Haiti’s southern coast, is typical. “I have been a Church member for 13 years and will now be able to go to the temple for the first time,” he said.

Set high on a hill, the Boston temple is designed with New England-style architecture. (Photograph by Jeffrey D. Allred, courtesy of Church News.)

Nearly 6,000 members attended the dedication of the Caracas Venezuela Temple. (Photograph by Jason Swensen, courtesy of Church News.)

The Houston temple district covers a large portion of the state of Texas.

Framed by foliage, the new Birmingham Alabama Temple awaits dedication on the morning of 3 September 2000. (Photograph by Julie A. Dockstader, courtesy of Church News.)

The Santo Domingo temple serves members in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and small surrounding islands.