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Ground Broken for 50th Operating Temple—St. Louis, Missouri

Ground was broken for the Church’s fiftieth operating temple on a chilly October morning with both President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency presiding.

“This is the first time I’ve ever conducted a meeting in an overcoat,” President Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, exclaimed to the approximately four thousand people gathered for the October 30 St. Louis Missouri Temple ground breaking. The ceremony not only thrilled but chilled the attendees as an early cold front unsettled colorful fall leaves on the beautiful temple hill. Church members traveled from afar to rejoice in this event, and even parking at a distance and standing for several hours did not dampen the spirit of the occasion. General Authorities in attendance included Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elders James M. Paramore and Hartman Rector, Jr., of the Seventy. Also attending were several state and community leaders.

President Hinckley spoke of pioneer forebears who left the state of Missouri in 1838 under orders of the governor. The Saints faced severe hardships and suffered many trials, he noted, but St. Louis was a city of refuge where they were treated kindly. Here they were able to supply their needs for the trek westward. President Hinckley urged the members to develop the same pioneer attributes to sustain them during these latter days.

In dedicating the temple site, President Hinckley thanked the Lord for those who had worked so hard on the plans thus far. “Now, our beloved Father, we feel to rededicate our lives and our talents to Thy sacred work and to the blessing of all whose lives we can touch for good,” he continued. “To this end, we seek Thy blessing and give unto Thee and unto … Thy Son, the honor and the praise and the glory.”

President Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, reminded those attending that the first stake of the Church was organized in St. Louis. It is significant, he noted, that on 1 June 1958—one hundred years after that first stake was dissolved because of the westward movement—the St. Louis Stake was again organized. President Monson spoke of his forefathers who came from Scotland to St. Louis in 1849; four of his family died from a cholera outbreak. His great-grandmother and her brothers and sisters were left orphaned and had to find their own way westward. “I feel I’m standing on sacred ground in an area where my dear forebears completed their trek to find God.

“We build temples so that we might redeem our dead,” he continued. “And so that we might have an opportunity to perform those ordinances which we will take with us through eternity. When we build a temple, we build ourselves.”

During his address, Elder Oaks talked of the most important knowledge available and where to obtain it. He pointed out that the Lord’s house gives us knowledge of the greatest worth in an eternal sense. “It teaches us the nature of God. It teaches us the need for a Savior. It teaches us the purpose of our lives and our destiny if we make and keep sacred covenants,” he said. “The Lord’s house provides an opportunity to learn of our responsibilities to God and our responsibilities to one another.”

Architect’s rendering of the St. Louis temple

Architect’s rendering of the St. Louis temple, scheduled for completion in two years.

The St. Louis Missouri Temple will be built in the city of Town and Country, Missouri, on a fourteen-acre site. It will sit on a prominent hill that will give those passing a panoramic view of the structure. It is anticipated that the temple will be ready for dedication in approximately two years. The architecture is traditional in style and closely resembles the Nauvoo Temple, with the exception of a 150-foot spire similar to the spire of the Kirtland Temple. A gold-leafed statue of the angel Moroni will sit atop the spire. The exterior of the temple will be of white granite.

[photo] Approximately four thousand people gathered on a chilly day for the St. Louis Missouri Temple ground breaking. (Photography by Burt Paris.)

[photo] President Hinckley spoke of pioneer ancestors in his address.

Statement Released by First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve

The following is a statement released by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve:

“In light of extensive publicity given to six recent Church disciplinary councils in Utah, we believe it helpful to reaffirm the position of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“We deeply regret the loss of Church membership on the part of anyone. The attendant consequences felt over time by the individuals and their families are very real.

“In their leadership responsibilities, local Church officers may seek clarification and other guidance from General Authorities of the Church. General Authorities have an obligation to teach principles and policies and to provide information that may be helpful in counseling members for whom local leaders are responsible. In matters of Church discipline, the General Authorities do not direct the decisions of local disciplinary councils. Furthermore, the right of appeal is open to anyone who feels he or she has been unfairly treated by a disciplinary council.

“It is difficult to explain Church disciplinary action to representatives of the media. Considerations of confidentiality restrain public comment by Church leaders in such private matters.

“We have the responsibility to preserve the doctrinal purity of the Church. We are united in this objective. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught an eternal principle when he explained: ‘That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 67).

“In instructing His Twelve Disciples in the new world about those who would not repent, the Savior said, ‘But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people.’ (3 Ne. 18:31; see also Mosiah 26:36; Alma 5:59.) The Prophet also remarked that ‘from apostates the faithful have received the severest persecutions.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 67.) This continues to be the case today.

“The longstanding policy of Church discipline is outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants: ‘We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members … according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; … They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.’ (D&C 134:10.)

“Faithful members of the Church can distinguish between mere differences of opinion and those activities formally defined as apostasy. Apostasy refers to Church members who: ’1, repeatedly act in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders; or 2, persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority; or 3, continue to follow the teachings of apostate cults (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority.’ (General Handbook of Instructions, 10-3.)

“The general and local officers of the Church will continue to do their duty, and faithful Church members will understand.

“As leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we reach out in love to all and constantly pray that the Lord, whose church this is, will bless those who love and seek divine truth.”

Members, Missionaries Help Victims of Fire

Relief efforts by members and missionaries in southern California are underway following fires in twenty-six communities that ravaged areas involving twelve stakes. Thirteen homes of Church members were lost, and numerous families were evacuated from their homes. There were no personal injuries to members or loss of Church property.

The fires ranged from Ojai in the north to Poway in the south, covering an area approximately 140 miles long. Fires reached inland as far as eighty miles. More than two hundred thousand acres were burned, and eleven hundred structures were destroyed. The fires, the majority believed to involve arson, flared during a ten-day period in late October and early November.

Richard Brunson, captain in the Los Angeles City Fire Department and a member of the Pacific Palisades Ward, Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake, was dispatched to man hose lines in the Chatsworth fire.

“We are in a desert climate,” observed the fourteen-year firefighter veteran. “Each year we have Santa Ana winds. They are very warm and very strong. Once you have a brush fire started and very high winds, the fire is difficult to extinguish.”

During and following the fires, Church members were quick to respond to community needs.

Bishop Donald J. Thompson of the Calabasas Ward, Los Angeles California Canoga Park Stake, reports that his ward meetinghouse was used as an evacuation center for a neighborhood elementary school. The Calabasas/Malibu fire began approximately half a mile from the school site.

“We are part of the Meadow Oaks Elementary School’s emergency plan,” he explained. “The school children were evacuated by bus to our building. The building has a large lawn area, and teachers maintained classes at the church site.”

Forty-eight hours after the Laguna/Emerald Bay fire began, members of the Laguna Niguel California Stake had collected more than three hundred bags of clothing. Working with members of other faiths, men, women, and youth from all of the stake’s ten wards sorted and distributed clothes.

“Our stake was given an empty bank building to turn into a sorting and distribution center for clothing,” explained Linda Duncombe, a member of the Laguna Niguel Fourth Ward. “We obtained clothing racks from Deseret Industries to help organize the clothing. The center was staffed by Church members and opened to community members requiring assistance.

“After the fires, many of our stake members recognized the need for sandbags to use as erosion buffers to prevent water runoff and flooding,” Sister Duncombe added. “Families in our stake spent family home evening filling thousands of sandbags for future use.”

Approximately eight hundred Church members from throughout the area worked closely with missionaries from the California Carlsbad Mission in relief efforts which included cleanup, food distribution, counseling, child care, security, communications, and housing.

“This cooperative effort isn’t only about fires, food, or clothing,” said Alvin Clawson, president of the Laguna Niguel California Stake. “It’s also about working together to strengthen our community. Many of these individuals may need our love and support more than our clothing and food.”

Bishop Keith Milliken of the Pacific Palisades Ward, Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake, was forced to evacuate his home when threatened by the Calabasas/Malibu fire. Neighbors on three sides lost homes, but his home was spared.

“We had members and missionaries from the California Los Angeles Mission helping residents with raking, cleaning, washing, sweeping, and clearing ash and debris inside and outside homes. We know there will be more opportunities, and we will be there to help,” Bishop Milliken said.

Children in the Newbury Park California Stake decided to focus on treats for the firefighters. “Three hundred children from all wards in our stake baked cookies for nearly six hundred firefighters,” said Donee Robinson, assistant director of public affairs for the stake. More than one hundred of the children served the cookies to firefighters and support personnel in a neighborhood park.

Elsewhere in southern California, missionaries from the California Ventura Mission worked with the Red Cross to help feed firefighters. According to mission president Roger C. Butterfield, missionaries served nearly eight hundred meals—hot breakfasts and packaged lunches—to those on the line. “The Red Cross approached us because we have worked with them previously in other volunteer efforts,” President Butterfield explained. “There was a need, so we sent the missionaries out to help.”

Those who lost property and possessions in the fire are now struggling to handle the loss. Claron Oakley, a member of the Pasadena Second Ward, lost his home in the Altadena fires. His greatest loss, however, was a hallway filled with six generations of family photographs. He escaped with only a handful of the snapshots.

“I lost the wedding pictures of my three children, and the only picture in existence of me and my wife on our wedding day in 1950,” he said.

Robert E. Hedrick, president of the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake, sent a letter to members of his stake. In part, the letter read: “The real strength of our people comes … from our firm belief that our Heavenly Father knows each of us individually and the trials and challenges we face. He has given us His Son to teach how to love, minister, and care for our brothers and sisters.”

[photo] Southern California fires burned more than two hundred thousand acres. (Photo courtesy of AP/Wide World Photos.)

[photo] Sister missionaries rake debris and ashes. (Photo by Mary Kay Stout.)

Mary Kay Stout is Southern California Public Affairs Council associate director for media relations.

Of Good Report

Missionaries Compile Kenya Museum Records

The director of the Kenya National Museum, Dr. Muhammed Isahakia, has received a compilation of the thousands of items contained in the museum, thanks to the efforts of more than forty missionaries serving in the Kenya Nairobi Mission.

This massive undertaking required countless hours as teams of elders spent two to three hours every week for the past several months counting and cataloging objects.

“This is the first-ever record source. It will be an invaluable aid to our work,” said Gideon Matwali, a recent convert and museum archivist.

Swedish Members Help Russian Orphanage

“The Russians live only five hundred kilometers (three hundred miles) from us,” reports Mats Ekelund, a member of the Handen Ward, Stockholm Sweden Stake. Close enough that when members of the Handen Ward heard about an orphanage in Syktyvkar, Republic of Komi, Russia, that was desperately in need of help, they eagerly responded.

The whole ward got involved in the project, which included donating food and supplies for the sixty-five children living at the orphanage.

When ward representatives called the orphanage to inform them of the project, they were greeted by tears. The director had written various organizations asking for help. Three times foreign delegations had visited, then left, wishing those in charge “good luck.”

Initially, members donated clothing, some food, powdered milk, and other items. After the phone call, members were told that there were only seven knives in the entire orphanage and that other dishes and utensils were in short supply. The children, who hadn’t seen milk in two years, were eating in four shifts so everyone could have a dish.

Ward members redoubled their efforts, and dishes and silverware began pouring in. In addition, others not associated with the ward heard about the project and offered to help. By the time the supplies were sent to Syktyvkar, some 280 boxes of food, toys, and clothing had been received, as well as a refrigerator and two sewing machines.

Brother Ekelund, who delivered the supplies to the orphanage, reported the visit was inspiring, delightful, and humbling. “Our last evening there,” he said, “all the kids sat down, and I told them about God. I explained the plan of salvation and told them that God loves and cares for everyone. We read some excerpts from the Book of Mormon; they all wanted to hear more. The Spirit was truly present.”

Ohio Saints Make Sleeping Bags for Homeless Children

For the second year in a row, members of the Cleveland Ohio Stake participated in the KIDSACKS project. The service project, organized by a local association of seamstresses and textile artisans, consists of making kidsacks, a sleeping bag with a built-in pillow. The items are then given to homeless children.

“It is exciting to see the huge bolts of colorfully striped or plaid and plain materials, bolts of batting, and huge spools of thread travel the production lines [set up in local malls] and emerge as finished, lightweight sleeping bags, each appliquéd with a huge heart embroidered with ‘Sweet Dreams’ and completely portable for even the smallest child to carry and call his or her own,” reported Gladys M. Osborne, stake public affairs director.

“Our young people are enthusiastic over this service project; we call it ‘kids working for kids.’ We make use of everyone; they cut material, pin, sew, serge, unpin, inspect, and bag. They leave feeling happy and successful with their service.”

KIDSACKS project director Marlene Ingraham called the two hundred-plus LDS volunteers the “backbone” of the production line. “Without the ongoing, enthusiastic work of your experienced volunteers, working side by side with other volunteers, the project would not have run as smoothly or been as productive. The LDS families, youth groups, women, and men set the example of good workmanship, teamwork, and productivity. We know that other volunteers caught the spirit and learned from your volunteers.”

Gift to the Community

This month, for the sixth year in a row, members in the Palo Alto Second Ward, Menlo Park California Stake, are hosting an exhibit of crèches from all over the world. The four-day exhibit, explains Shirley G. Campbell, is the ward’s gift to the community.

Last year, more than five thousand people toured the display, with more than 50 percent of the visitors being members of other faiths. Highlights of the exhibit included exquisitely detailed Swiss carvings set against a six-foot long Bethlehem scene, a village of eighty traditional carved wood figures from Oberammergau, and unusual Polynesian, Eskimo, and American Indian displays.

More than forty countries are represented in the display. In addition, several of the crèches were made from unusual materials such as seed pods, driftwood, Philippine grass, terra cotta, thread, corn husks, and gingerbread.

Local leaders annually invite community dignitaries, as well as members of other religious congregations, to come and enjoy the more than three hundred nativity scenes that make up the collection. “It is a quiet and beautiful way of letting the community know that our church believes in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” said Marlene Meshinski, one of the event organizers. “The exhibit is a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas season.”

A Month of Meals

There are no members of the Church in Levasy, Missouri. Yet when residents of that small rural town were driven from their homes by flooding during the summer of 1993, Relief Society sisters in the Independence Missouri Stake wanted to help.

On 16 July 1993, just days after the swollen Missouri River surged over its banks and swallowed the homes of twenty-two Levasy families, stake Relief Society president Shirley Gallup called Levasy resident Dorothy Wynn and volunteered help. Eighty-one years old, Mrs. Wynn had survived three floods and seemed the town’s natural choice for flood relief coordinator.

“We need meals,” she told Sister Gallup. And so, six days a week for a month, Relief Society members from the stake’s nine units prepared, delivered, and served meals for twenty-five to fifty people at the Levasy Civic Center, the command post for flood relief and temporary home to many of the displaced victims.

“Often, the only meal they got was the one we would serve at noontime, and then we would leave the leftovers for their evening meal,” explained Terri Hontz, Relief Society president in the Independence First Ward. Enchiladas, casseroles, barbecued burgers, chicken, hoagie sandwiches, and honey-baked ham with all the trimmings were just a few of the month’s entrees.

However, members of the Church provided more than food; they also served up love and support and a sense that someone cared. “It was a really fulfilling experience because they were very grateful. They saw that we were there because we genuinely cared,” explained Michelle Truman, Relief Society Spiritual Living teacher in the Blue Springs First Ward.

“The people I’ve talked to have told me how much it meant to them to have us come, how it really got them through just knowing that a meal was coming each day,” Sister Gallup noted.

The gratitude shown to the Saints was even more meaningful considering the self-sufficient nature of these independent people. “These are farmers, and they’re not used to having to depend on someone else,” Sister Truman observed. “It was hard for them to accept someone else doing something for them.”

Yet they had no choice. The flood had stripped them of their belongings and changed their lives. Many didn’t have enough to eat until the members started bringing the meals.

Sister Truman described her shock the first time she helped deliver a meal. “I expected to see water, but there were boats right there in the road. The Civic Center was on the ‘shoreline.’ There was one lady living in the center who could look out the back window and see her house under water up to the picture window. I asked someone where the river used to be, and she said two miles away.”

What Sister Truman described was just the damage from the first crest. A second crest followed, which drove flood victims from the Civic Center refuge to a fire station in a nearby town. The Relief Society continued to feed their newfound friends at the new location.

And as other needs arose, the Saints were there. When the flood relief agency asked for quilts, the stake quickly organized a marathon quilting bee and finished eighteen quilts. In addition, those involved told relatives of the plight of the Levasy farmers, and help began coming from other areas as well.

In Firth, Idaho, members of the Kimball Ward, who suffered through the Teton Dam break in 1977, sent a truckload of new sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and thirty-two quilts. Attached to two sheet sets were notes carefully written by a child: “This isn’t much but we hope it will help.”

Local support was also gratifying. Members donated money, cleaning supplies, and other essential items. Local businesses helped provide food for some of the meals. And many people donated hours and hours of time.

Although not a member of the Church, Mrs. Wynn knows it is by serving others that God helps his children. And to those Latter-day Saints who reached out to the victims in Levasy, she says, “You didn’t know it, but you were an answer to my prayers. We needed somebody and the telephone rang and somebody was there.”Heidi Jackson Willes, Blue Springs, Missouri

[photo] Missionaries work on cataloging museum pieces.

[photo] LDS volunteers were key in KIDSACKS project. (Photo courtesy of Gladys Osborne.)

[photo] Deanne Harrison with her collection of Christmas dolls. (Photo by Shirley Campbell.)

Elder Kenneth Johnson

The Church in Northern Europe

Converts from the British Isles and northern Europe brought great strength to the growing Church in its early days. To learn about the progress of the Church in those areas now, the Ensign talked with Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy, president of the Europe North Area.

Elder Kenneth Johnson

Elder Kenneth Johnson

Question: What spiritual heritage has been left by the Church’s long presence in the countries of northern Europe?

Answer: We find great spiritual strength among the members there, but it is not so much a heritage as it is a gift that is being developed. The Church in northern Europe has almost a first-generation convert base. This is because during the Church’s first century and a quarter, most converts in Europe immigrated to America, where they could enjoy the blessings of a temple. In the early 1950s, for example, there were only about six thousand members left in the British Isles, despite more than a century of proselyting. The Church really began to be rooted there after the dedication of the London Temple in 1958.

Q: Has the same thing been true in other countries of northern Europe?

A: Yes. Emigration took many members away over the years. Today, growth in the Scandinavian countries is similar in proportion to growth in the British Isles, but the numbers of members are smaller because the populations of those countries are smaller. There are more than 164,000 members in the British Isles, and nearly 21,000 in the Scandinavian countries. We have forty-one stakes in the British Isles, two in Denmark, two in Finland, two in Sweden, and one in Norway.

Q: Has the building of a temple in Scandinavia had the same kind of strengthening effect that it had in the British Isles?

A: That is happening. The Stockholm Sweden Temple, which was dedicated in 1985, has a wider area of influence: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. It is having its impact among members in those countries.

The building of a temple gives the Church more stability. Spirituality increases, and families are united, resulting in greater commitment. For example, many members were deeply touched during tours of the London Temple before its rededication in 1992. Some had long been less active, and others had simply let their temple recommends lapse while the temple was closed. So many of these people were moved to come back and enjoy full spiritual fellowship that the number of recommend holders in the temple district increased by 33 percent. Among temple visitors who were not Latter-day Saints, reactions were almost completely positive. There were a few uninformed, negative comments written to newspapers, but those gave us an opportunity to do some teaching about the Church as we responded.

Q: You used the strength of the gospel, in effect, to capitalize on a problem.

A: There are no problems—only challenges. I love it when things get difficult, because that’s when the greatest inspiration comes. We find that as we try to see the opportunity in a situation, new possibilities open up to us. We have in Britain, for instance, a system of public affairs councils that takes advantage of those opportunities to teach others about the Church. Another kind of opportunity came through an effort to locate less-active members in the Manchester mission; many of their former neighbors and friends that we contacted readily accepted appointments to hear about the gospel. We are now putting this member location effort and its accompanying missionary effort into effect in other areas. And there is an impressive family history project that is making friends for the Church in Britain. Hundreds of members are involved in entering 30 million names from the 1881 census into computer files. Some of these Latter-day Saints took the lead in recruiting members of many genealogy federations to help with the work, and we have received enthusiastic cooperation from them.

Q: As you work among the members of the Europe North Area, what stands out most about them in your mind?

A: Their faith. I don’t think even our people realize how great they are, and some have not yet discovered the potential they have. In some parts of our area, we are blessed to have members who have been faithful for forty or fifty years; they strengthen others just by their presence. And in many places, we are now seeing the spiritual harvest going beyond first-generation membership. We see young men growing up preparing to serve missions and young women growing up preparing to marry in the temple.

As a presidency, we are trying to focus on five fundamentals to help members build on their strengths: (1) making covenants with the Lord through baptism; (2) renewing covenants through sacrament meeting participation; (3) receiving the Melchizedek priesthood, thus fortifying homes and the Church; (4) serving through full-time missions; and (5) making and keeping temple covenants.

We understand, and we try to teach, that none of this—no spiritual progress—is possible if our efforts are not anchored in the Savior’s example and teachings. When we serve with faith, we become instruments in his hands, seeking no recognition for ourselves, but hoping that through our service others will recognize the divine power that directs this work.

Focus on Children

The following letter from the First Presidency was sent to local Church leaders:

“In many areas of the world, children are increasingly at risk from malnutrition, disease, and war. Abuse and neglect of children, immorality, and violence are becoming more common. The children of the Church need to be cared for and taught gospel principles.

“The best place for a child to learn the gospel is in the home. Mothers and fathers have the responsibility to teach and care for their children. (D&C 68:25–28.) It is also important for extended families, priesthood leaders, auxiliary leaders and teachers to help strengthen children. The principles children learn at home and at Church will help them gain a strong foundation of testimony that they can use to make righteous choices and faithfully live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“The Lord said, ‘All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.’ (3 Ne. 22:13.) We reemphasize the need for all adult members to focus on our children in an ongoing effort to help them learn to follow the teachings of the Savior. We encourage priesthood leaders to help parents understand their role and responsibility to teach their children. Priesthood leaders should also consider prayerfully how they can help to bless the lives of children. Because this responsibility for our children is so important, we must rededicate ourselves to nourish and bless them temporally and spiritually. …

“We pray that all Church members will continue to improve teaching and caring for the children and bless their lives as the Savior did.”

The following was sent to local Church leaders in the United States and Canada:

General Book of Mormon Fund:

There is an ever-increasing need for more copies of the Book of Mormon to be used in proselyting. Currently the generous donations of members are not keeping pace with the increasing demand for copies of the Book of Mormon.

We invite members who are financially able to contribute to the general Book of Mormon fund. Although donations should not become a financial burden, many members could experience great blessings as they help.

St. George Visitors’ Center Dedicated

The new visitors’ center on the St. George Temple grounds in St. George, Utah, offers an ideal climate to spread the gospel and strengthen the Saints, said Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve during dedication ceremonies.

The new visitors’ center, located on the southeast corner of the temple block, was dedicated 30 October 1993 by Elder Wirthlin, who is also a member of the missionary executive committee. Among those who attended the ceremonies were Elders Malcolm S. Jeppsen and Albert Choules of the Seventy, members of the Utah South Area presidency. Government dignitaries also attended, including Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and his parents, Anne and Dixie Leavitt. Brother Dixie Leavitt is the director of the new center.

Approximately fifteen hundred people attended the dedication, filling to overflowing the meetinghouse where the services were held.

Elder Wirthlin noted that “thousands from all corners of the earth will visit this magnificent edifice, which complements so beautifully the architectural grandeur of the temple itself. And they will leave with a most precious gift—that of an understanding of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and his divine mission.” Elder Wirthlin challenged all in the temple district to take full advantage of the center with its modern teaching devices to spread the gospel to their friends and neighbors who are moving into the rapidly growing area.

During the dedicatory prayer, Elder Wirthlin expressed appreciation for the stalwart, hard-working, faithful pioneers who sacrificed their lives to build the settlements in southern Utah.

The visitors’ center opened for one month prior to its dedication. Approximately twenty-five hundred people visited the building, including many tourists. These tours, combined with the impressive dedicatory services, filled those in attendance with an excitement about the potential for the center to lead people to the gospel.

Vira H. Blake is a member of the Seventh Ward, St. George Utah East Stake.