Temples Dedicated in Mexico, United States

Four more temples were recently dedicated in North America. Two of these temples are in Mexico, where eight new temples have been dedicated in the last several months.

Shortly before the last of these four new temples was dedicated, a historic announcement was made: on 1 October, the Boston Massachusetts Temple would become the 100th operating temple of the Church.

Mérida Yucatán Mexico Temple

The Mérida Yucatán Mexico Temple was dedicated in four sessions on 8 July. President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, presided over the dedication and offered the dedicatory prayer.

“We dedicate every room and feature of this, Thy House, dear Father,” he said. “May we ever carry in our hearts a great sense of gratitude for its presence in this our land and city. May we make ourselves worthy to come to Thy House, to engage in those holy ordinances which will here be administered. May we be tireless in our efforts to bring these blessings unto ourselves and unto our families, and then go forward, standing for those who have gone beyond in extending to them the sacred ordinances of Thy divine gospel.”

Along with President Monson, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Carl B. Pratt of the Seventy, President of the Mexico South Area, attended the dedications of the Mérida Yucatán and Veracruz Mexico Temples.

Nearly 15,000 people attended the Mérida temple’s open house on 24, 26 June–1 July. Some 5,500 members attended the dedication. The temple will serve nine stakes, two districts, and three unaffiliated branches.

The first to be built in the Yucatán Peninsula, the Mérida temple has been long anticipated by local members. Domingo Renán Pérez Maldonado, president of the Mérida Mexico Itzimna Stake, said he had been looking to this day since 1979, when he served as a translator during Elder David B. Haight’s visit to the Yucatán Peninsula. “The apostle told us a temple would be built here someday,” he said. “This temple will be a place of spiritual light for everybody.”

Veracruz Mexico Temple

The Veracruz Mexico Temple was dedicated on 9 July in four sessions. President Thomas S. Monson presided over the meetings.

“Bless this great nation of Mexico. Bless the officers of the government that they may be friendly to Thy people. We pray that Thy Saints may prosper in this good land, that they may be released from the shackles of poverty, that they may go forward with faith, with a crown of righteousness upon their heads, to do Thy will and build Thy kingdom,” said President Monson in the dedicatory prayer.

The dedication was a moving event for Walter Butler, who traveled from Arizona to attend it. Brother Butler and his former missionary companion, the late BYU president Rex E. Lee, opened Veracruz for missionary work in 1955. Now he grappled with emotions trying to talk about a temple being dedicated in the port city where he once served. “I remember the work being so easy in Veracruz,” said Brother Butler. “The area was beautiful; there were people with good hearts.”

More than 5,000 attended the dedication of the new temple, and some 10,000 guests visited the open house from 26 June through 1 July. For Melitón Lagunes, newly appointed president of the Veracruz temple, taking young people through the halls of the sacred building was the highlight of the open house. “Many youth have walked through the celestial room and said of the temple, ‘This is where I’m going to marry.’ That’s wonderful,” he said.

The Veracruz temple will serve nine stakes, two districts, and two unaffiliated branches.

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

The Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple was dedicated in four sessions on 16 July by President Gordon B. Hinckley. “May [this temple] provide a shelter of peace from the noise and clamor of the world, a refuge in time of distress, a sanctuary where Thy sons and daughters may come to commune with Thee in sacred and solemn prayer,”said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Monte J. Brough of the Seventy, President of the North America Southeast Area, also participated in the dedication.

The new temple, the first in Louisiana, stands on a bank of the Mississippi River in a picturesque area between the Baton Rouge stake center and a wetlands nature reserve. Some 4,600 members attended its dedication, and more than 18,500 visitors attended its 1 and 3–8 July open house. They included government, community, and religious leaders, numerous media representatives, neighbors, and patrons of the Church’s local Family History Centers.

The Baton Rouge temple will serve some 25,000 members in nine stakes in Louisiana and Mississippi. Brittany Holm of the Walker Ward, Denham Springs Louisiana Stake, recalls annual temple trips from Baton Rouge to the Dallas Texas Temple, traveling by bus eight hours each way. During the dedication, she looked forward to driving only 30 minutes the following day to do baptisms in the new temple.

Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple

President James E. Faust dedicated the Church’s 95th operating temple, the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple, in four sessions on 30 July.

In the dedicatory prayer, President Faust said, “We pray for Thy cause and kingdom, that it may grow ever stronger in this community. May all who have favored Thy cause be blessed for that which they have done. May many continue to seek for knowledge concerning Thy work until they have embraced Thy restored gospel.”

Accompanying President Faust were Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Seventy, President of the North America Southwest Area.

The temple’s open house, held on 15 and 17–22 July, drew over 40,000 visitors. “Our guests were so pleased with the opportunity to see what the temple is all about,” said guide Mary Newman, a member of the Cedar Valley Ward, Oklahoma City Oklahoma Stake. “There were lots of positive comments, and some people even went through more than once.”

Many of the nearly 9,000 members who attended the dedication shed tears of gratitude during the ceremonies. “It’ll be so wonderful to be able to go to the temple frequently,” says Sister Newman, who is now a temple worker in the Oklahoma temple. In the past, members in the area traveled nearly 200 miles to the Dallas Texas Temple. The new temple will make ordinances much more accessible for 44,000 members in the temple district, which includes Oklahoma and parts of Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

[photo] The first to be built in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the Mérida temple has been long hoped for by local members, 5,500 of whom attended its dedication. “This will be a place of spiritual light for everyone,” said a longtime member. (Photo by Jason Swensen, Church News.)

[photo] The Veracruz temple will serve nine stakes, two districts, and two branches near the Gulf of Mexico. “This is where I’m going to marry,” said many local youth when they entered the celestial room during the temple’s open house.” (Photo by Jason Swensen, Church News.)

[photo] The Baton Rouge temple, the first to be built in Louisiana, stands on a bank of the Mississippi River in a picturesque area. Members in its temple district formerly traveled eight hours each way to the Dallas Texas Temple. (Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.)

[photo] Nearly 9,000 members attended the dedication of the Oklahoma City temple, and more than 40,000 guests visited its open house. “Our guests were so pleased to see what the temple is all about,” said an open house guide. (Photo by Julie A. Dockstader, Church News.)

Church Members Celebrate Pioneer Heritage

Throughout the world, members celebrated their pioneer heritage in July.

Salt Lake City, Utah

In Salt Lake City, President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, represented the Church in the annual Days of ’47 parade that honors the pioneers who entered the Salt Lake Valley on 24 July 1847.

“Today is a day to honor all the pioneers for their courage and sacrifice—both those who arrived in this valley and those who perished before the journey’s end,” said President Monson, speaking at a luncheon following the parade. “This causes us to pause and ask ourselves the questions: Would we have made it? Would we have been able to make the trek and endure the hardship and sacrifice? I think we would. Those tear-stained places across the trail to the West will not have been in vain if we do follow their example and become pioneers ourselves.”

Elsewhere in Salt Lake City, at This Is the Place Heritage Park at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated a new Joseph F. Smith Memorial Grove.

Elder Ballard, a descendant of Joseph F. Smith, said the grove honors the boy pioneer who grew to be the sixth President of the Church and his valiant mother, Mary Fielding Smith. The grove includes lilac bushes that descend from a bush from Hyrum Smith’s home in Kirtland, Ohio; oak trees that descend from acorns of trees that grew in Nauvoo 150 years ago; and a reconstructed Mary Fielding Smith cabin.

In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Ballard asked that the grove be “a place of peace and solace where love will exude one to another, where people of all persuasions may feel comfortable to come and sit together and talk about things that are eternal, precious, and important for this life and the life to come.”

Snowflake, Arizona

In Snowflake, Arizona, President James E. Faust dedicated a monument to the pioneers of the town during their Pioneer Day celebration on 21 July.

The town’s population of approximately 4,500 swelled to nearly 25,000 for the event.

The monument, sculpted by Justin Fairbanks, includes Elder Erastus Snow of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, with companions Ira Hinckley (President Hinckley’s grandfather), Jesse N. Smith (first stake president of northeastern Arizona), and the William Jordan Flake family. The town was named Snow-Flake in honor of two of the town’s founders depicted in the monument.

In dedicating the monument, President Faust acknowledged the many great men and women who pioneered homesteads in the wilderness. He then commented, “Where we came from is not as important as what we are, but what we are often reflects where we came from.

“As we look into your faces and the faces of the children and young people, we see a people of believing blood. The messages of devotion and sacrifice are as valid today as when Snowflake was settled.”

President Faust also visited the site of the recently announced temple for Snowflake.


In July Scandinavian Latter-day Saints did more than celebrate Pioneer Day. They also commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Church in Scandinavia.

The first missionaries landed in Copenhagen harbor to begin their labors on 14 June 1850. Their arrival signaled the beginning of an important era for the Church and the eventual conversion of thousands of Europeans who heeded the call of the Church to go to Utah and build Zion.

Scandinavian members celebrated the anniversary with firesides, dances, reunions, and the unveiling of statues that honor the early emigrants.

In Denmark, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was invited by the Danish Rebild Association to be the principal American speaker at its annual Fourth of July festivities. Danes have gathered since 1912 in the largest observance anywhere outside the United States of the American Independence Day. More than 15,000 attended this year in celebration of the great bonds of friendship that exist between Denmark and the United States.

Elder Nelson presented to the people of Denmark a statue called The Family, which represents a Danish pioneer family preparing to make the journey to the Salt Lake Valley. The work, commissioned and financed by a private, nonprofit foundation, Descendants and Friends of Denmark, was sculpted by Dennis Smith of Alpine, Utah. Brother Smith is of Danish ancestry, and his great-grandmother Christine Beck, who immigrated to Utah as a 16-year-old girl, was the inspiration for the family statue. A second statue by Brother Smith, Kristina, was unveiled in the Copenhagen harbor area a few days later.

In Iceland, Church members and Lutherans participated together in a meeting on 2 July that honored the country’s conversion to Christianity 1,000 years ago. On 4 July Iceland’s first LDS chapel was dedicated in Reykjavik by Elder W. Rolfe Kerr of the Seventy, President of the Europe North Area.

Additionally, descendants of Icelandic Latter-day Saints traveled from the United States to join Church members in Iceland for the unveiling of a sculpture at “Mormon Pond,” where the first Icelandic converts were baptized in 1851. The sculpture, titled Messenger, is by Gary Price. On 3 July Iceland’s president, Ólatur Ragnar Grímsson, opened a permanent exhibit, at the Icelandic Emigration Center, which honors the 410 Icelandic converts who immigrated to Utah in the 1850s.

[photo] President Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Frances, wave to the thousands who lined the streets of Salt Lake City for the Days of ’47 parade. Celebrations of Pioneer Day took place throughout the world. (Photo by Keith Johnson.)

[photo] A new monument dedicated in Snowflake, Arizona, honors early pioneers. (Photo by Margaret Cocks.)

[photo] Elder Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Dantzel, look on as a statue of an early emigrant family of converts is unveiled in Denmark. (Photo by Mark W. Smith.)

[photo] In Iceland, Elder W. Rolfe Kerr, President of the Europe North Area, dedicated a monument honoring 410 Icelandic converts who immigrated to Utah. (Photo by Richard E. Hammond.)

Mormon Immigration Index Released

The Family and Church History Department recently released the Mormon Immigration Index on CD-ROM. This index documents the journeys of over 94,000 converts who crossed the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans to gather with the Saints in North America between 1840 and 1890.

The automated index includes the name, age, and country of origin of each passenger. Voyage information includes ports of departure and arrival as well as the approximate number of passengers on each ship, the assigned company leaders, and often a brief history of the voyage.

The index also includes transcriptions of autobiographies, journals, diaries, and letters of approximately 1,000 immigrant converts. “Journals and diaries are the things that can bring family history to life,” said Ray Madsen, Family and Church History Department product manager. “The accounts are cross-referenced so individuals using the index can also read what others have written about their ancestors.”

Fred Woods and Blaine Bake, faculty members at Brigham Young University and BYU—Idaho, created the index using British Mission immigration passenger lists and other sources.

The Mormon Immigration Index CD (item no. 50174) can be purchased for U.S. $5.00 at Church distribution centers worldwide or ordered on the Internet at www.familysearch.org.

New Marriage and Family Relations Course

A new Marriage and Family Relations course to be inaugurated in the Church can be used as a separate Sunday School class, as lesson material for other auxiliaries, or as a personal study guide for married couples.

An announcement letter to priesthood leaders from President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated that the course is “designed to help strengthen marriages and families. This course is to be administered under the direction of the bishop or branch president.”

According to instructions in the instructor’s manual:

  • “Bishoprics and branch presidencies may schedule the course as a Sunday School class”;

  • Priesthood group and quorum leaders or Relief Society presidencies “may use individual lessons for instruction on the first Sunday of each month”;

  • “Bishoprics and branch presidencies may use individual lessons in combined Melchizedek Priesthood–Relief Society meetings on fifth Sundays”;

  • “Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women advisers may use the manual as a resource for Mutual night”;

  • Or “individuals and couples may study the course on their own.”

The manual notes that priesthood leaders may invite specific members to attend the course, “as guided by the Spirit.”

The course is divided into two parts. Part A, “Strengthening Marriages,” is designed to help married couples or those planning to be married. Part B, “Parents’ Responsibilities to Strengthen Families,” is for parents or grandparents as they strive to “bring [children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Members can take the individual parts of the course or use its materials according to their own needs. For example, a married couple without children might participate in or study part A; a single parent might use only the lessons in part B.

Part A is divided into eight sections with topics such as nurturing love and friendship in a marriage, responding to challenges, finding strength through faith and prayer, calling on the power of forgiveness, and managing family finances.

Part B has eight sections with topics from fulfilling the sacred roles of mother and father to teaching by example and guiding children as they make decisions.

Both the instructor’s manual and participant’s study guide contain “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and a list of other Church-produced resources. The instructor’s manual also includes some basic instructions on preparing to teach and on the responsibilities of the teacher.

The instructor’s manual (item no. 35865) and the participant’s study guide (36357) can be ordered from Church distribution centers.

LDS Scene

Church Presents Records to Jewish Genealogical Society

The Church recently presented a new computerized database, Jewish Records in the Family History Library Catalog, to the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) during its 20th annual convention in Salt Lake City.

When Richard E. Turley Jr., managing director of the Family and Church History Department, announced the unexpected gift, hundreds of attendees “stood up and shouted for joy and clapped,” said Nancy Goodstein, a family history missionary who compiled the database. “I’ve never felt such incredible joy and emotion.”

The searchable database is a catalog of some 5,000 specifically Jewish records found on film, on microfiche, and in books. Sallyann Amdur Sack, co-chairperson for the convention, said the database will be valuable to Jewish genealogists because researching their roots is so challenging. “Jews have been expelled from country after country,” she explained. “They ran for their lives. They didn’t carry papers with them.”

The new catalog will make it easier for Jewish people to research their ancestors in specific categories and locations. “The Jewish people have worked so hard on indexing and researching their families,” said Sister Goodstein. “We want to assist them in their efforts.”

The Jewish database is available in the Family History Library. The IAJGS is presently deciding how it will make the database more widely available.

First Meetinghouse Dedicated in Bulgaria

Members of four branches in the Sofia, Bulgaria, area joined Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy and other Church leaders recently to dedicate the first meetinghouse in the country. The dedication comes 10 years after the Sofia Bulgaria Mission was organized.

“This represents the first building where Church members will be able to meet on a regular basis. It is a message for them that the Church is here to stay in Bulgaria,” said Elder Didier, then President of the Europe East Area.

The meetinghouse serves as the central location for the Church in Bulgaria, with a chapel on the first floor; a kitchen, reception area, and mission offices on the second; and the mission president’s residence on the third.

A day prior to the dedication of the Sofia meetinghouse, ground was broken for a second meetinghouse in Bulgaria, in the city of Plovdiv. “It will be a great blessing to the members of the branch, as well as have a great impact on the people of Plovdiv,” said Rosan Giorgiev, president of the Plovdiv Branch.


Strengthening Youth

I read your article “Navigating Turbulent Waters” (July 2000) with great interest. The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet is one of the best things that has been printed for young people.

As a grandfather of 16 and a great-grandfather of a growing number of children, I’ve had a hard time deciding what to do for birthday presents for my ever-increasing posterity. I’ve found a great solution. For each birthday, I send a birthday check, a For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, and instructions to read the entire pamphlet before cashing the check. I feel this is the finest birthday present I could give my posterity. In acknowledging the check, my young descendants assure me that the pamphlet has been read. I feel that it has a great impact on their lives.

Roy Darley Salt Lake City, Utah

Church Magazines on CD-ROM

A CD-ROM version of 30 years of Ensign, New Era, and Friend will be available sometime in October. The database has been available on the Internet since July, on the Church’s Web site at www.lds.org.

The compact disc version allows members to use the database without connecting to the Internet. The CD version also allows users to customize their study with bookmarks, study notes, and highlighting. Called LDS Church Magazines: 1971–99 (item no. 50000), the CD will be available at Church distribution centers.

Did You Know?

The database of 30 years of Church magazines, from 1971 to 1999, is now available on the Church Web site, where you can also find the monthly First Presidency and Visiting Teaching messages. For these and other new features, visit www.lds.org.