Fort Collins Colorado Temple Called “A Fortress of Faith” in Cultural Celebration

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • FORT COLLINS, COLORADO

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016.  Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

“Make the values of the temple the focus of your life. Take on the … Light of Christ, and a harmony will be among you. Unity will be among you, and you will be a majestic example of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency

Just as weary travelers found strength and refuge in the early forts of the area, Church members will soon have access to a divinely inspired “fortress of faith” as the Fort Collins Colorado Temple—the Church’s 153rd temple—is officially dedicated on October 16.

To celebrate a new temple in their area, youth from the Fort Collins Temple district gathered on a beautiful autumn evening under a bright moon for a youth temple cultural celebration—titled “A Fortress of Faith”—held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 15.

“My young friends, you are truly an ensign to the nations and a light to the world,” said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, in his welcome remarks. “Therefore, make the values of the temple the focus of your life. Take on the … Light of Christ, and a harmony will be among you. Unity will be among you, and you will be a majestic example of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Youth from Casper, Wyoming, to the north; Arvada, Colorado, to the south; parts of Nebraska to the east; and Rawlins, Wyoming, to the west joined together in song and dance to celebrate the dedication of the Fort Collins Colorado Temple.

Joining President Uchtdorf for the performance was his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, and other Church leaders, including Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy, General Authority Seventies Elder Wilford W. Andersen and Elder C. Scott Grow, and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric. Wives of the visiting authorities—Sister Ruth L. Renlund, Sister Rosana F. Soares, Sister Kathleen B. Andersen, Sister Rhonda Grow, and Sister Carol S. Waddell—were also in attendance.

“In our temple district there are many forts,” said Sister Cathy Hull, director of the cultural celebration. “As we studied about the forts in the area, we learned their purpose was to keep peace—not to fight or enclose themselves—but to offer refuge and resupply travelers along their way. We have built our own ‘fortress of faith,’ and as we keep our covenants we draw from that power.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency greets the youth of the Fort Collins Colorado Temple district prior to their performance in the cultural celebration held October 15. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Corina Hedahl and Emily Call during the youth temple cultural celebration rehearsal. They are from the Huntington Hills Ward in the Loveland Colorado Stake. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Jake Morris, Spencer Stanworth, and Taggart Boyce from the Longmont Colorado Stake pose for a picture during a break while practicing for the youth cultural celebration for the Fort Collins Colorado Temple on October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Nearly 4,000 youth from the 13 stakes in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple district joined together in song and dance to celebrate the dedication of the Church’s 153rd temple. More than 17,000 people filled the stadium—and many more throughout the state of Colorado watched from a live broadcast. Dance numbers focused on the history of the area and the foundations to which the holy temple has been built upon today.

“There are little miracles daily,” Sister Hull said. “Our youth are coming together from hundreds of miles apart, and I hope that the youth remember and hold on to this moment.”

One of the dance numbers included a tribute to the Native Americans who were the first people to inhabit the area and told the story of Chief Washakie, a wise leader and chief of the Shoshone Nation for 60 years. His example of being a friend of the traders and military commanders led to a community of peace and friendship. After becoming friends with Brigham Young, Chief Washakie was baptized as a member of the Church in 1880.

One performance focused on the intermountain explorers in the area who traveled throughout the territory mapping out new trails and building forts for refuge and trade. These forts prepared the way for when the pioneers migrated west.

Other numbers included a hoedown, a dance honoring immigrants from around the world who have settled in the region, and a tribute to Katharine Lee Bates, who drew inspiration from the area as she wrote the hymn “America the Beautiful.”

In addition to drawing from the history of the area, the celebration allowed the youth an opportunity to celebrate their faith, testimonies, and hard work.

Throughout the evening, video vignettes showed youth sharing personal experiences, stories from their family history, and how they have overcome trials and tragedy. Drawing from disasters that have hit the area in recent years, youth shared their experience after losing their home when a tornado swept through Windsor, Dacono, and Greeley, Colorado.

“Our youth have been through faith-building experiences,” Sister Hull said. “I hear their stories—they have challenges that are real and they have testimonies and have learned from their trials.”

Deacons from the Rinn Valley Ward, Longmont Colorado Stake, take a break during the rehearsal for the youth cultural celebration in Fort Collins Colorado on October 15, 2016. From left, Jake Morris, Josh Bonley, Kyle Richards, Taggart Boyce, Spencer Stanworth, Connor Howell, Talon Veile, and Brayden Cardoso. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Youth have been meeting at least once a week—if not twice or three times—for two months preparing for the youth cultural celebration.

“It’s been a lot of work pulling it together,” said Bryce Hanrahan, a deacon from the Prairie View Ward in the Cheyenne Wyoming Stake. “We have had practices every Wednesday and most Saturdays since mid-August. It is neat to see how it all comes together to form the formations on the field.”

He says one of the highlights has been seeing how by joining together with other youth they are able to accomplish something so much bigger than on their own.

“One person couldn’t do it, but with thousands of others together we can do it,” Bryce said.

Cameron Wingard, Bryce Hanrahan, Dillon Hanrahan, and Jim Hanrahan pose for a picture outside Hughes stadium during their lunch break from the youth cultural celebration rehearsal on October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

His dad, Jim Hanrahan, serves as Young Men president in his ward and says there has been much growth in the youth since they have been preparing for the cultural celebration and, more important, the closer access to a temple. Rather than the two- to four-hour drive to Denver—depending on traffic conditions—the Hanrahans will have around a 45-minute commute to the Fort Collins Temple.

“I have seen the youth kind of grow together,” Brother Hanrahan said. “They have had to do things that are out of their comfort zone and have realized that they can do hard things. I have loved watching as the youth have put in the energy and time it has taken. I am a little sad it is ending. But we have our first youth temple trip as a group a week from this Tuesday, so we won’t let [the excitement] stop. Now we are going to focus on family history to take names to the temple.”

Brigen Parnell, 13, from the Fossil Creek Ward in the Loveland Colorado Stake, said his grandparents living in Austin, Texas, have already sent him a big box of family names to take to the temple.

“It is awesome we have a house of the Lord,” he said. “I keep thinking of the words of the song [from the cultural celebration] that says we can find peace.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriet, follow Sister Kathleen Andersen and her husband, Elder Wilford W. Andersen, as they walk in to the youth cultural celebration in Fort Collins, Colorado, October 15. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Sister Harriet Uchtdorf waves to the youth sitting on the field as President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency waves to the crowd prior to the youth cultural celebration held on October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, wave to youth alongside Sister Rosana F. Soares and Elder Ulisses Soares prior to the youth cultural celebration in association with the Fort Collins Colorado Temple dedication. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Youth respond to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's arrival to the stadium housing the youth cultural celebration on October 15. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

A replica of the Fort Collins Colorado Temple sits in the middle of the field as a reminder that the “fortress of faith,” a temple of the Lord, is for individuals, families, and communities. Latter-day Saint youth participate in the Fort Collins Colorado Temple youth cultural celebration, titled “A Fortress of Faith,” held on Colorado State University’s Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday evening, October 15, 2016. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.