Two new temples were dedicated during January, and President Gordon B. Hinckley completed a tour of Pacific areas in which he met with Church members and high government leaders in several countries.
St. Paul Minnesota Temple
The St. Paul Minnesota Temple was dedicated on 9 January. More than 8,000 members attended the four dedicatory sessions.
In the prayer dedicating the sacred structure, President Hinckley said, “It is our gift, dear Father, which we present with thanks for the opportunity of doing so and with hearts made glad by this sacred privilege.” He also asked blessings on all who would attend the temple. “May all who serve herein do so with singleness of purpose, with love for Thee and for Thy Beloved Son, and for the accomplishment of the work of eternity for which it has been built.”
He prayed for blessings on faithful tithe payers everywhere who contributed funds toward the temple’s completion, then continued: “Bless Thy cause and kingdom that it shall move forward across the earth in fulfillment of Thy word and promise. Bless the messengers of eternal truth who go out into the world from this sacred house that Thy endowment may be upon them, that their testimonies may be certain and unwavering, that they will be led to those who will accept the truths of the eternal gospel.”
Accompanying President Hinckley at the dedication were Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy, President of the North America Central Area, and his wife, Anne; and Elder Thomas A. Holt, Area Authority Seventy, and his wife, Bonnie.
The temple serves some 25,000 members in seven stakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin, one district of the Canada Winnipeg Mission, and the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission.
Kona Hawaii Temple
The Kona Hawaii Temple, the Church’s 70th in operation, was dedicated 23–24 January. More than 3,100 members attended the four dedicatory sessions.
“We pray that it may truly be the house of the Lord, respected and reverenced by those not only of our faith, but by all who shall look upon it. May it be sanctified by the presence of Thy Holy Spirit,” President Hinckley asked in the dedicatory prayer.
“We pray for the well-being of the faithful Saints in these beautiful isles of the Pacific,” he said. “May there come into the hearts of the people a growing desire to come to the house of the Lord, here to taste the sweet refreshment of the Holy Spirit. May the influence of this Thy house be felt among Thy people, and may it find expression in their lives and in their homes.
“We pray that the youth of the Church may have a desire to serve the needs of those beyond the veil of death through vicarious baptisms in their behalf. As they do so, may there grow in their hearts a compelling desire to walk as Thou wouldst have them walk, and not after the ways of the world.”
President Hinckley was accompanied at the dedication by President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, an Area Authority Seventy. Also in attendance were Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley, Sister Donna Packer, and Sister Diane Hallstrom.
Among the members at the dedication were one sister who had attended the dedication of the temple at Laie with her mother as a four-year-old and two sisters from the Kalaupapa Branch on Molokai, in the settlement once set aside for victims of Hansen’s Disease, or leprosy. More than 3,800 members attended the dedication services. Many were natives of other areas in the Pacific; one room in the adjoining stake center was set aside for translation of the services into Tongan.
The temple will serve more than 11,000 members from the Kona and Hilo stakes, located on the island of Hawaii, and the Kahului stake, which includes members on the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai.
The temple dedication was considered the first event in a yearlong commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Church in Hawaii.
Regional Meetings in Laie, Hawaii
Noting that it had been 150 years since Latter-day Saint missionaries first brought the restored gospel to “these favored islands,” President Hinckley complimented members in Hawaii for faithfulness and called on them to step up to higher levels of righteousness and service.
He spoke to members who gathered in two different regional meetings at Laie on 22 and 23 January. The combined attendance for the two meetings numbered more than 15,000.
“Walk on a higher plane with your heads up, believing in yourselves and in your capacity to act for good in the world and make a difference. You can do that. You have demonstrated that. Keep it up,” he said.
Warning that the battle of evil against the Church and against individual Latter-day Saints will continue to escalate, he urged members to fight against it by turning to prayer. “There is no power on earth like the power of prayer.”
He called on them to make missionary work a priority and to do more. “If we were more faithful, I believe that we could bring more people into the Church in these beautiful islands, and we have a responsibility to do so.”
During the second regional meeting, on 23 January, he urged members not to let work at the temple in Laie slow down because there is a new temple in Kona. “Keep the temple as busy or busier than it has been,” he said. “I make a promise to you that every time you come to the temple you will be a better man or woman when you leave than you were when you came.”
Across the Pacific
President Hinckley’s two stops in Hawaii were only the beginning of a 10-day, nearly 23,000-mile loop through the Pacific in which he met with Church members and with national and local government officials in several countries. He was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Marjorie, and also by President Packer and his wife, Donna.
The journey took them to Tarawa, Kiribati; Cairns, Queensland, Australia; Jakarta and Bali, Indonesia; Singapore; and Guam. Including the meetings in Hawaii, they met with more than 26,000 Church members along the way: 20,533 during the meetings in Hawaii; 1,500 at the airport in Tarawa; 625 at a fireside in Cairns; 1,800 during a fireside in Jakarta; 6 at the airport in Bali; 1,450 at a fireside in Singapore; and 684 at a fireside in Guam, with a number of Saints in Saipan participating via teleconference.
In Kiribati, President Hinckley was welcomed by Kaiaotika Tekee, minister of Environment and Social Welfare for Kiribati, representing the president of his country. In Australia, three legislative leaders attended the meeting in Cairns on Australia Day (26 January): Warren Pitt, Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Mulgrave, Dr. Lesley Clark, MLA for Barron River, and Mrs. Naomi Wilson, former MLA for Mulgrave. In Indonesia, President Abdurrahman Wahid, who had earlier invited President Hinckley to meet with him at his palace, also arranged a meeting the following day with other government leaders. And on Guam, President Hinckley was officially greeted by Governor Carl Gutierrez, along with Tony Unpingco, speaker of the Guam Legislature, and senators John Salas and Frank Aguon.
The response of members in Tarawa to President Hinckley’s brief visit was joyous, typical of the responses of Saints in similarly distant locations where the Lord’s prophet rarely visits. First came the official welcome by Kaiaotika Tekee, who thanked the Church for the influence of its Moroni High School, for recent humanitarian aid, and for the continuing service of members. Then the members sang for President Hinckley “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice” and “How Firm a Foundation.” In response, the President told them, “What a pleasure it is to look into your faces and to feel of your spirit, your great love for the Lord.”
He reminded them that they are members of the great family of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that they “will always be part of that if you will keep the faith.” Then he invoked the blessings of the Lord upon them according to their faithfulness.
Levita Lamese, president of the Tarawa Kiribati Stake and principal of Moroni High School, was seated where he could look into the faces of the Saints. Many were “crying, overwhelmed to be in the presence of the prophet of God,” he said. “Tears ran down their cheeks as they listened to the prophet’s message and the blessings he invoked upon Kiribati. They felt the spirit of the Lord.”
In other areas, it was the same. On Guam, nearly 700 Saints gathered to hear President Hinckley speak, and other members in Saipan participated in the meeting via teleconference. V. Ben Roberto, president of the Koror Topside Branch in Palau and governor of Anguar State, Republic of Palau, commented that he left the meeting “more committed to living the gospel of Jesus Christ, improving the quality of life both spiritually and temporally, and, more important, leading my family in love.” Francis Moylan, president of the Dededo Branch in Guam, called the opportunity to hear President Hinckley speak “a dream come true.” The day would be remembered, he said, because the President of the Church had taken time to visit members in Guam. “It was a great honor to have been in the presence of this humble and yet very loving man.”