Seven temples were dedicated between the end of February and the end of the first week in April. The wide geographical spread in their locations was an indicator of the continuing worldwide growth of the Church, but one dedication—in Palmyra, New York—touched the lives of more members than any other, both because of its historical significance and because almost 1.5 million members had the opportunity to participate via satellite broadcast.
The Palmyra dedication came on the date marking the 2000th anniversary of the Savior’s birth, and the new temple is within walking distance of the area where the Prophet Joseph Smith received the vision that heralded restoration of the gospel. This was the first time a temple dedication had been broadcast on such a wide scale.
Four of the other temples dedicated during the period were in Mexico, from Ciudad Juárez on Mexico’s northern border with Texas, to Tuxtla Gutiérrez near the southern border with Guatemala.
Palmyra New York Temple
The setting is beautiful in itself—atop a wooded hill in pastoral western New York, a little east of a picturesque older home and a well-crafted log cabin with stands of trees to the west. But the magnificent new building atop this wooded hill becomes even more impressive when the significance of its setting is understood. One of those groves of trees on the west is the place where 14-year-old Joseph Smith Jr. learned in 1820 that important blessings and powers of God had been lost to mankind, and the new building that stands today on the hill to the east is a sacred house of the Lord where some of those blessings may be obtained.
President Gordon B. Hinckley made clear the significance of the place and the building when he dedicated the new Palmyra New York Temple in four sessions on 6 April.
He had said at the groundbreaking for the Palmyra Temple on 25 May 1999: “I regard this temple as perhaps the most significant, in one respect, in the entire Church. It was right here in the Sacred Grove where it all began.” In dedicating the temple on 6 April this year, on the 170th anniversary of the organization of the Church, President Hinckley said: “We have scarcely seen the beginning of what shall come to pass. These are the days of God’s great work in the earth.” He spoke of the Church’s growth to nearly 11 million members, and he bore powerful, repeated testimony that the Church organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith truly is the Church of Jesus Christ and that the vision reported by the young Joseph truly did take place in a nearby grove of trees.
President Hinckley referred to that vision in the dedicatory prayer. “This wondrous event parted the curtain that had been closed for centuries,” he said. “This marvelous appearance, which is the foundation of Thy work in this dispensation, brought back to earth a knowledge of the one true God and the resurrected Lord. Wonderful are the words of the boy Joseph in his description of this transcendent event: ‘When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!’ (JS—H 1:17). …
“Dear Father, we acknowledge that it all began here. We marvel, and we gather today in these precincts which were sanctified by Thy presence and the presence of Thy Son, to dedicate unto Thee and unto Him this, the Palmyra New York Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
President Hinckley was accompanied at the dedication by President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the Presidency of the North America Northeast Area.
While some 1,200 members were able to attend the four dedicatory sessions in the temple itself, it was estimated that nearly 1.5 million took part through live broadcasts and tape-delay rebroadcasts to their stake centers across the United States and Canada.
There had been snow the day before the dedication, and 6 April began with heavy rain and chill. But bright sunshine broke through the clouds before President Hinckley and others involved in the cornerstone laying stepped out of the temple for that part of the program. After the cornerstone ceremony, when the Church leaders had gone back into the temple, the weather turned blustery, leaving representatives of the news media commenting on the timing of the temporary calm and sunshine.
Local members say reaction to the temple in the community has been very positive. More than 30,700 visitors toured the temple during its open house. The temple will serve approximately 18,000 members in seven stakes.
Ciudad Juárez México Temple
President Gordon B. Hinckley presided at the first of six dedicatory sessions for the Ciudad Juárez México Temple on 26 February. President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, presided at later sessions on 26 and 27 February while President Hinckley traveled to Hermosillo, Mexico.
“May it [the temple] be a house of love where those who labor may realize that the ordinances here administered, for both the living and the dead, assist in bringing to pass the great provisions of the Atonement of Thy Son,” President Hinckley asked in the dedicatory prayer. He also petitioned God to “bless this great nation of Mexico that it may rise and shine among the nations of the earth.”
Other Church leaders participating in the dedicatory services were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder David R. Stone of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Mexico North Area Presidency.
The new temple will serve more than 36,000 members in 10 stakes and one district. More than 8,000 members, including many from El Paso, Texas, just across the border, attended the dedicatory services. Many of the Mexican members expressed great joy and shed tears of gratitude at having a temple so close by.
Hermosillo Sonora México Temple
President Hinckley dedicated the new Hermosillo Sonora México Temple in four sessions on 27 February.
“It is sacred to us, the place where holy ordinances will be administered for both the living and the dead. Here will be exercised the only authority on earth which reaches beyond the veil of death and is efficacious in the worlds beyond,” he said in the dedicatory prayer.
Other General Authorities participating in the dedicatory service were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Lynn A. Mickelsen of the Seventy, President of the Mexico North Area.
President Hinckley spoke of the sorrow Father Lehi undoubtedly had felt at the long oppression of his descendants and of the joy that ancient prophet undoubtedly could feel now at seeing the blessings of the temple come to his posterity.
More than 10,500 people visited the temple during its open house. One woman, part of a group of local leaders, commented on the peace and tranquillity she felt, adding, “It is another world, completely different.”
The new temple will serve some 46,200 members in 11 stakes and 6 districts. Nearly 6,000 members attended the dedicatory services.
Sadly, one member, Rosa Hermelinda García de Espinoza, lost her life traveling homeward from the dedication as the bus bound for Los Mochis, Sinaloa, was involved in an accident. Twenty-one other members were injured.
Albuquerque New Mexico Temple
New Mexico’s first temple was dedicated by President Hinckley in four sessions on 5 March.
In the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley petitioned that the temple be “a sanctuary of peace, a refuge from the noise of the world. … May the light of the gospel that emanates from this holy temple be felt throughout the community.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the North America Southwest Area Presidency, also took part in the dedicatory services.
Some 70,000 visitors toured the temple during the 10-day open house before its dedication. The temple serves about 50,000 members in New Mexico and parts of Arizona and Colorado. “One of the biggest blessings is being able to go there and reevaluate your life and your priorities,” said Eileen Lewis, a member of the Manzano Ward, Albuquerque East Stake. The temple, she explained, offers the opportunity to ponder without being influenced by the pressures of the world.
Oaxaca México Temple
The Oaxaca México Temple was dedicated in four sessions on 11 March by President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. It was the first temple dedicated by President Faust.
Speaking as voice for other members, he said in the dedicatory prayer, “We have longed for the day when a house of the Lord would be built nearer to us that we might come here often and worship Thee in spirit and in truth, and receive those ordinances, for both the living and the dead, which lead to immortality and eternal life through the great Atonement wrought by our Redeemer, Thy Beloved Son.”
Also participating in the dedicatory services were Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Carl B. Pratt of the Seventy, President of the Mexico South Area.
More than 10,000 people visited the temple during its open house. Among the comments from visitors was this: “One feels a peace there, a tranquillity. It is heavenly!” One member, after touring the temple, said with tears in his eyes that he knew “the Lord loves us very much, and having this temple in our city now makes it seem He has come closer to us.”
The dedicatory services drew more than 18,000 members. The new temple serves more than 26,000 members in 10 stakes, 1 district, and 4 branches.
Tuxtla Gutiérrez México Temple
The Tuxtla Gutiérrez México Temple, in the state of Chiapas on Mexico’s southern border, was dedicated by President James E. Faust in four sessions on 12 March.
“We pray that the faithful Saints of this temple district may look to this hallowed structure, may come here frequently, and may taste of the sweet things which are here offered,” he said in the dedicatory prayer.
“Bless these Thy children. Lift them out of the depths of poverty. Bring new light and understanding into their minds. Cause them to rejoice at Thy watch care over them.”
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Carl B. Pratt of the Seventy, President of the Mexico South Area, also participated in the dedication.
More than 3,300 members attended the four dedicatory sessions. Temple president Enrique Sanchez said that for many members in this area, the new temple is a dream come true. The temple serves more than 18,000 members in five stakes, one district, and three missions.
Louisville Kentucky Temple
President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the new Louisville Kentucky Temple in four sessions on 19 March.
“It is Thy house, a place of holiness. We pray that Thou wilt visit it and cause that Thy Holy Spirit may abide here as the work of salvation and redemption goes forward within these walls,” he said in the dedicatory prayer.
“We plead with Thee, Thou great Elohim, that Thine eternal purposes, Thy great plan of happiness for Thy children, will blossom and grow in this part of Thy vineyard,” he said.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy, President of the North America East Area, also took part in the dedicatory services.
More than 8,000 members attended the four dedicatory services. Many expressed gratitude for the blessings that they expect the temple to bring into their own lives and the lives of their children who will be able to receive endowments and be sealed there in coming years.
The Louisville Kentucky Temple serves approximately 36,500 members in 10 stakes.