My beloved brethren and sisters, we welcome you to this great world conference of the Church. We are grateful for your presence and for the efforts you have made to be here. We are grateful for the association of our brothers and sisters assembled in thousands of halls across the world.
The Church grows ever larger. It touches more and more lives for good. It is spreading over the earth in a wonderful way.
I take the opportunity this morning to advise briefly of the progress we are making toward the goal of 100 working temples in the year 2000.
Since the first of this year we have dedicated temples in Anchorage, Alaska; Colonia Juárez, Mexico; Madrid, Spain; Bogotá, Colombia; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Spokane, Washington; Columbus, Ohio; and Bismarck, North Dakota—eight in all. Between now and the end of the year, we will dedicate temples in Columbia, South Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Regina, Saskatchewan; Billings, Montana; Edmonton, Alberta; and Raleigh, North Carolina—seven more. At the conclusion of 1999, we anticipate that there will be 68 operating temples.
It has been a wonderful experience to participate in these dedicatory services. Most satisfying of all has been the enthusiasm of the people. The spirit of temple work rests upon them. They are so grateful to have a house of the Lord nearer their homes. Some of them have traveled so very far in the past. Many of them still do. As we have gathered in these sacred services, while consecrating these hallowed buildings, we have seen many with tears in their eyes.
Boys and girls in large numbers have attended these services. They have been reminded that these temples are not only for their parents but also for them. When 12 years of age, they may enter the house of the Lord and stand as proxies in baptisms for those beyond the veil of death. What a great and unselfish service this is. What a wonderful thing for our youth to be involved in this totally selfless act in behalf of others who are powerless to help themselves.
Going hand in hand with this increased temple activity is an increase in our family history work. The computer in its various ramifications is accelerating the work, and people are taking advantage of the new techniques being offered to them. How can one escape the conclusion that the Lord is in all of this? As computer facilities improve, the number of temples grows to accommodate the accelerated family history work.
Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of nonmembers have attended the open houses associated with these new temples. They have done so with reverence and respect. In many cases, the temples are, without question, the finest buildings in the cities in which they are located. People marvel at their beauty. But among many things, they are most impressed with pictures of the Savior they see in these holy houses. They will no longer regard us as a non-Christian people. They must know that the central figure in all of our worship is the Lord Jesus Christ.
This building of so many temples has been and is a tremendous undertaking. You cannot believe what is involved in it unless you are closely associated with the process. Every one of these buildings, large or small, is constructed in the best manner of which we know, using the very best of materials. Their cost is much more than that of a chapel. This is because they are built to higher standards. I express appreciation to the very many dedicated men and women who are working on this tremendous project.
Every ordinance which is given in the Salt Lake Temple, the largest in the Church, is also given in every other temple, including these smaller structures. The fact is that they are not so small. They are commodious, and they are beautiful. They represent the ultimate in our worship and the ultimate in blessings offered.
We plan to break ground later this month for the Nauvoo Temple. Many people are excited and many are contributing to this historic undertaking.
We shall go on with the work of dedication next year. It will be a very busy season. We anticipate the dedication of perhaps as many as 42 more. When we finish the year 2000, if present plans materialize, we will have not only the 100 which we have striven for, but more beyond that.
We shall not stop then. We may not build at the same pace, but we shall go on for as long as the Lord wills that it be done.
Brethren and sisters, it is a glorious season in this work. God, our Eternal Father, is blessing His cause, His kingdom, and His people. The resources of the Church, including the facilities for temple work, are increasing.
In view of the fact that we do not build a temple until there are sufficient people in the area, until there are sufficient tithe payers, and until there is sufficient faith, the very construction of these sacred buildings becomes an indicator of the increase of faith and obedience to the principles of the gospel.
May we enjoy the blessings of the Lord as we go forward in this great work which affects not only the living but the great multitude of the dead of all generations. For this I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.