“Dallas Temple Dedication Opens New Era for Southwestern Saints,” Ensign, Dec. 1984, 69–70
“Texas is filled with other buildings that are larger and far more expensive than this temple. But this is the most significant of all in the Lone Star State. Nowhere else can the power and authority of reaching beyond the veil of death be exercised.”
Those words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, were greeted with joy by the nearly 1,100 Saints gathered in the Dallas Temple October 19 for the first of twenty-three dedicatory services.
Those who perform endowments and baptisms for the dead in the temple offer “a wonderful service, to do for others what they are powerless to do for themselves,” President Hinckley said. “Without these temples, [our Heavenly Father’s] work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of all mankind could not be accomplished.”
In the dedicatory prayer on the temple, President Hinckley expressed gratitude to our Eternal Father for his Beloved Son, whose sacrifice made possible the plan of salvation, then continued:
“We thank thee, Father, for this glorious season in the history of the earth, this dispensation of the fulness of times when thou hast restored the gifts, blessings, and authority of all prior dispensations.”
He expressed thanks for the growth of the Lord’s work throughout the earth, and for the “vision of thy prophet of our day in declaring that a temple should be built here.” Then he dedicated the sacred edifice.
“May this beautiful temple, standing in this community, become a declaration to all who shall look upon it of the faith of thy Saints in the revealed things of eternity, and may they be led to respect that which is sacred unto us, thy people,” he said.
“Prosper thy work in this part of thy vineyard. May the dedication of this temple mark the beginning of a new and glorious day for thy Church in this area. May the voices of evil be stilled. May the declaration of thy truth be strengthened. May many hearts be opened to thine everlasting gospel as it is proclaimed by thy faithful servants.”
President Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve told those attending the cornerstone-laying ceremony that the temple will be a “beacon to members and non-members. It will be an inspiration not only to the Saints, but to many others as well.”
Promising that blessings will come to the temple district because of this new, glorious building, President Benson said it would be a constant visible symbol that God “has not left man to grope in darkness.”
“Temples are places of personal revelation,” he explained. “There have been times when I have been weighed down by a problem or a difficulty and have gone to the house of the Lord with a prayer in my heart for answers. Those answers have always come in clear and unmistakable ways.”
Stressing the importance of teaching children about the blessings of eternal marriage, he said during the cornerstone ceremony before the dedication, “Prepare them now. Teach them in your homes. Talk about it in your prayers. Tell them it is a commandment of God and an expectation of your household.”
He spoke of the temple as an ever-present reminder that God intends families to be eternal. He encouraged parents to point to the temple and tell their children that it was there they were married for eternity. “Teach them that temples are the only place on earth where certain ordinances may be performed.” He suggested that parents might explain to their children the feelings they had as they made those covenants over the altar.”
Several other General Authorities attended the first dedicatory service. These included: Elder Thomas S. Monson and Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve; Elder Dean L. Larsen of the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elder Robert D. Hales, Elder Rex D. Pinegar, and Elder Rex C. Reeve, Sr., of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Other General Authorities who attended later dedicatory sessions were Elder David B. Haight and Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve; Elder Carlos E. Asay and Elder G. Homer Durham of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and Elder Theodore M. Burton, Elder Hartman Rector, Jr., Elder George P. Lee, and Elder James M. Paramore, all of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
During the five days following the opening dedicatory services, thousands came from throughout the temple district to participate in the services.
Nearly 120,000 members of the Church in most of Texas, all of Oklahoma, and parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri will be served by the 18,000-square-foot structure, the thirtieth operating temple in the Church.
Twenty-one months prior to the dedication, in January 1983, visiting General Authorities and local Church officers had stood in abnormal, freezing temperatures to witness the groundbreaking ceremonies. The prayer given at that groundbreaking ceremony petitioned the Lord that any animosity in the area toward the Saints or the building of the temple might soften and the day soon come that people would speak in praise of the beautiful structure.
During the twenty-day open house in September, more than 88,000 visitors stood in scorching sun, and sometimes pelting rain, for as long as two hours to tour the temple and then view the Texas Dallas Mission’s brief presentation in the ancillary building. Approximately 56 percent of the visitors were nonmembers encouraged to attend either by personal invitation from members or by the widespread media attention given the open house.
Many who toured the temple were impressed. “I really seemed to feel the presence of God,” said one visitor. “This was a very special experience.” Another asked that the “Mormon ministry” in the area continue forever. Others commented on the peace and reverence they felt.
Within a week of the final public tour, a baptism took place, the fruit of a visit on the second day of the open house. “I was initially drawn to the temple because of its architectural beauty,” said convert Janet Del Corso. As she toured it, though, the temporal aspects dwindled, and “eternal truths became the highlight of my visit.”
Since that baptism, three others have occurred, and ten more investigators have asked to enter the waters of baptism, reports Texas Dallas Mission President Grant Barton. He noted that in some areas of the mission, referral teaching has increased by 200 percent as a result of the open house.
President Barton said another important aspect of the open house was that it corrected many misconceptions about the Church, improving relations with members of the community and with local clergymen who had opposed building of the temple.