Elder Bednar Dedicates Wyoming Temple in the “Star of All Valleys”

Contributed By Julie Dockstader Heaps, Church News contributor

  • 30 October 2016

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Susan Bednar pose for a photo at the Star Valley Wyoming Temple in Afton, Wyoming, on Saturday, October 29, 2016.  Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

AFTON, WYOMING

Latter-day Saints living in this long green valley nestled along Wyoming’s border with Idaho often speak of a pioneer prophecy—that the spires of a temple would one day rise up below the peaks of the surrounding snow-capped mountains.

That day, foreseen by early Church Apostle Moses Thatcher as he looked out over what he named “the star of all valleys,” has arrived.

The new Star Valley Wyoming Temple, the 154th operating temple of the Church, was dedicated Sunday, October 30, in three sessions by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The first temple in Wyoming—a state known for pioneer heritage—will serve thousands of members in six stakes in western Wyoming and parts of southeastern Idaho.

“We can never live off of the faithfulness of our forefathers. Each generation has to stand on its own holy ground,” Elder Bednar told the Church News the day before the dedication. “But there is a continuation, a blessing of that faithfulness for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.”

Continuing, he related that in meetings with members in this valley, “you can just feel a spiritual sturdiness and a strength that has continued across the generations. Successive generations of faithful Latter-day Saints have grown stronger.

“And I think personally the temple here in this valley is just a symbol of those generations of devotion and faith.”

Elder Larry Y. and Sister Lynda Wilson, left, Elder Ulisses and Sister Rosana Soares, Elder David A. and Sister Susan Bednar, Elder Wilford W. and Sister Kathleen Andersen, Elder C. Scott and Sister Rhonda L. Grow pose for a portrait at the Star Valley Wyoming Temple in Afton, Wyoming, on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

The Star Valley Wyoming Temple is seen on the morning of its dedication in Afton, Wyoming, on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Neil and Chereon Hoopes of the Afton (Wyoming) 4th Ward gather with their children and grandchildren on the grounds of the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple prior to the final dedicatory session for the new sacred edifice. Brother Hoopes recalled how when he was 6 years old, his grandfather and his wife were killed with two other couples while returning from the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

 

Joyce Barrus of the Fairview Ward, Afton Wyoming Stake, prepares to enter the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple for the final dedicatory session of the Church’s 154th operating temple. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

Families gather outside the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple the morning of Sunday, October 30, for the cornerstone ceremony. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

Elder Bednar presided over dedicatory events Saturday, October 29, and Sunday, October 30, that included a temple cultural celebration. During the first dedicatory session on Sunday, he led an entourage of Church leaders out of the temple for the ceremonial sealing of the cornerstone.

Church authorities joining Elder Bednar were Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy and General Authority Seventies Elder Wilford W. Andersen, Elder C. Scott Grow, and Elder Larry Y. Wilson, who is Executive Director of the Temple Department.

Wives of the Church leaders included Sister Susan Bednar, Sister Rosana Soares, Sister Kathleen B. Andersen, Sister Rhonda Grow, and Sister Lynda Wilson.

“It seems appropriate that the choir can see their breath in Star Valley,” Elder Bednar quipped upon reaching the platform for the cornerstone ceremony, bringing laughter from the 65-person cornerstone choir from Montpelier, Idaho.

Then, explaining that the ceremony is just symbolic, he said it’s a “good reminder that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of your faith.”

Along with the leaders, Elder Bednar invited children to place some mortar and then he invited two daughters of Wyoming to take a turn with the trowels—his wife, Sister Bednar, who was raised in Afton, and Sister Barbara D. Perry, wife of the late Elder L. Tom Perry. Sister Perry, who was raised in Cokeville, south of Star Valley over a mountain pass and part of the temple district, participated in the dedication and cornerstone events.

“This is just like an amazing dream,” Sister Bednar said during the interview with her husband the day before the dedication. “I guess you could say I’m amazed and thrilled, I’m excited, and I’m just full of appreciation to a loving Heavenly Father who has seen fit to bless these people.”

Then Sister Bednar, the daughter of Kay and Nyla Robinson, who are pioneer descendants, shared a “tender mercy” for her family. When the Star Valley Temple was announced in 2011, Sister Bednar’s father, who was celebrating his 85th birthday, called his daughter and told her he had a birthday wish.

“He said, ‘I wished that I would live long enough that I would see the Star Valley Temple dedicated,’” Sister Bednar related.

Continuing, she said, “Well, tomorrow, the day of the dedication, is my father’s 90th birthday and he’ll be here. My mom and dad will both be here, 88 and 90 years old and still doing good things.”

Also speaking of the legacy her parents instilled in her was Sister Perry, the daughter of S. Reed and Lois Taylor Dayton. Her father was a bishop in Cokeville for 23 years and a stake president for 14 years. He was also a Wyoming state legislator serving the Star Valley area.

With tenderness, Sister Perry spoke of her father. “He’s done a lot of building toward this [dedication] indirectly and directly—and Mother is right there beside him.”

Also pondering his heritage—both recent and as a descendant of the Hale family that originally homesteaded the land upon which the temple now stands—was Neil Hoopes of the Afton 4th Ward. Brother Hoopes doesn’t recall when temple worship wasn’t central in his family—no matter the cost.

He was only 6 years old in March 1969 but vividly remembers when his grandfather Vernon Hoopes and his wife, Jane, attended the temple in Idaho Falls, Idaho, with two other couples from Star Valley. Until the dedication of the new temple in Star Valley, members, including ordinance workers, traveled over sometimes treacherous winter roads to Idaho Falls.

In that day 47 years ago, the car in which the three Star Valley couples were riding missed a turn and plunged down a 300-foot embankment. No one survived.

The peace and importance of the temple, Brother Hoopes said, have always been “at the forefront of our lives.”

On the day of the dedication, he attended a session with his wife, Chereon, and some of their seven children in the meetinghouse just south of the new temple. Earlier in the day, he was ushering in the same meetinghouse and could see the sacred edifice through the window as he listened to live proceedings broadcast from the temple.

“In my mind’s eye, I pictured this whole field right up to the mountain full of people in white.”

He said he felt the presence of the original pioneers who settled this valley in the late 1870s, as well as his parents and grandparents. He said he pictured them giving “the Hosanna Shout to this temple.”

In her remarks to the Church News, Sister Bednar had a tender message for the youth of the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple: “I hope that the youth of this valley will always protect it by the way they live, that they will stand for truth and righteousness and be dedicated to the Lord and do their part to preserve the legacy of faith that has been established in this mountain home.”

 

On a rainy morning Sunday, October 30, members from throughout western Wyoming and southeastern Idaho gathered to participate in the dedication of the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple, the 154th operating temple of the Church. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

The Justin and Catherine Andrews family of the Thayne (Wyoming) 1st Ward arrive at the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple on a chilly Sunday afternoon for one of three dedicatory sessions. The new temple will serve thousands of Latter-day Saints in western Wyoming and parts of southeastern Idaho. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

Children gather with their families for the cornerstone ceremony of the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple on Sunday, October 30. The new temple will serve thousands of Latter-day Saints in western Wyoming and parts of southeastern Idaho. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

Elder David A. Bednar poses for a photo at the Star Valley Wyoming Temple in Afton, Wyoming, on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Elder Larry Y. Wilson, left, Elder Ulisses Soares, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Wilford W. Andersen, and Elder C. Scott Grow pose for a portrait at the Star Valley Wyoming Temple in Afton, Wyoming, on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

The Star Valley Wyoming Temple is seen on the morning of its dedication in Afton, Wyoming, on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

The Star Valley Wyoming Temple in Afton, Wyoming, on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

The Star Valley Wyoming Temple in Afton, Wyoming, on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

The Star Valley Wyoming Temple is seen on the morning of its dedication in Afton, Wyoming, on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Susan Bednar walk from the stand following the cornerstone ceremony of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple dedication in Afton, Wyoming, on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets Sister Barbara D. Perry before the cornerstone ceremony of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple dedication in Afton, Wyoming, on Sunday, October 30, 2016. At right is Sister Susan Bednar. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Members of the Montpellier Idaho South Stake choir sing during the cornerstone ceremony of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple dedication in Afton, Wyoming, on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.