Outside, a light rain fell gently on the newly completed building and grounds. But inside, tears of joy and gratitude flowed freely as President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Atlanta Temple as a gift of consecration and love.
“We dedicate it to thee,” he prayed, “and in so doing dedicate anew our lives to thee and thy purposes.” President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve led the Hosannah Shout. Then, as the choirs sent the final amen of the “Hosannah Anthem” heavenward, the clouds parted and sunlight streamed through the brilliant faceted windows of the celestial room. To the Saints gathered there, it seemed a beautiful symbol of divine acceptance of their gift.
This newest temple, dedicated Wednesday, 1 June 1983, is the twenty-first now operating. It will serve an area containing some 150,000 Saints who live in eleven southeastern states and on the islands of the Caribbean.
In the cornerstone service earlier that day, President Benson reminded the Saints that temples are “the universities of the Lord,” recalling that he has found answers to difficult problems there “in clear and unmistakable terms.”
With ten additional dedicatory sessions, almost fourteen thousand members of the Atlanta Temple district were able to hear the dedicatory prayer and messages. General Authorities present at the services were Elder James E. Faust of the Council of the Twelve; Elder G. Homer Durham of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elders Paul H. Dunn and Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and Bishop J. Richard Clark of the Presiding Bishopric. President Spencer W. Kimball and President Marion G. Romney were not able to attend.
In addition to the congregations at the dedicatory sessions, more than sixty thousand visitors toured the temple in a three-week open house period. “The impact of the Atlanta Temple will be felt for years to come in the South,” predicted President Brent Edman of the Georgia Atlanta Mission. “The efforts of the open house have gone a long way in overcoming misunderstandings about our beliefs.”
“The temple is beautifully simple and simply beautiful,” said Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Quorum of the Twelve. And the need for a temple to be a place of beauty and peace was mentioned in the dedicatory prayer: “May all who enter these holy precincts feel of thy Spirit and be bathed in its marvelous, sanctifying influence. … May their minds be lifted above the mundane affairs of the world to a higher and more heavenly plane. … May it be … a place of holiness to all who enter its portals.”
Throughout the dedication, a beautiful spirit of peace, both inside the temple and on the temple grounds, made this holy place lovelier still. As each session of the dedication ended, the Saints lingered to feel the Spirit a little longer—to share it with family and friends—before returning to the world beyond the temple gates.
Indeed, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve noted, the Saints of the Atlanta Temple district have many reasons to rejoice. The temple is “a needed sanctuary away from the world,” a place where “the window of the soul is opened widely to the light of the heavens.”
For those who assembled from throughout the South, the dedicatory service was also an invitation to dedicate themselves to the work of the temple. President Hinckley prayed that it be so: “May they come in ever-increasing numbers,” he petitioned, “to partake of those blessings which are offered only in these holy houses. May they come with clean hands and pure hearts and in a spirit of love and dedication.”