“Chicago Temple Dedicated,” Ensign, Oct. 1985, 72–73
It was a day for remembering.
“We of this generation remember Nauvoo,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, in dedicating the Chicago Illinois Temple on August 9. “We think of the sacred edifice which stood high on its hill. We remember with appreciation and gratitude those who built it. We recall their sacrifice when they were driven from it. Knowing they soon would be banished, and with many of their number already gone, they yet chose to complete it.”
The dedicatory prayer, prepared under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, also referred to the present and future. “O God, we thank thee for the inheritance of faith that has come down from that generation,” President Hinckley continued. “We thank thee for a new and better day when our people have returned to this area and large numbers have been added to thy Church in this part of the nation.”
He referred to section 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses 72–74 [D&C 109:72–74], part of the inspired prayer that Joseph Smith gave at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. The Prophet prayed for the time when the Church would be “adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, … that thy glory may fill the earth.”
“Heavenly Father, we see the dawning of that glorious day,” President Hinckley said. “Thy people, once few in number, have become a great multitude, living in many lands and speaking many tongues. Their numbers are constantly increasing. The virtue of their lives is widely acclaimed. We are profoundly grateful for thy blessings upon thy work and upon thy faithful Saints throughout the earth.”
He prayed that the faith of workers and patrons in the Chicago Temple would be increased through their service there. “May gratitude well up in the hearts of thy faithful Saints throughout the earth, and may the dead beyond the veil rejoice over what will here be accomplished to their eternal blessing.”
In remarks before the dedication, President Hinckley said, “I think there is an unseen audience today. I cannot escape the feeling that God, our Eternal Father, and the Risen Lord today are looking down on us. I am confident Joseph and Hyrum, who gave their lives in testimony of this work—who gave their lives and were buried in the soil of Illinois—are looking down upon us. I am confident that John Taylor looks down upon us.
“I’m grateful for this day when another temple now stands in Illinois, built in an environment of peace, goodwill, appreciation, and respect.”
In addition to President Hinckley, other General Authorities participated during the nineteen dedicatory services spread over August 9–13. They included President Ezra Taft Benson, Elder Howard W. Hunter, Elder Russell M. Nelson, and Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve; Elder Marion D. Hanks and Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elder Theodore M. Burton, Elder Rex D. Pinegar, Elder Derek A. Cuthbert, and Elder Rex C. Reeve of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Elder Reeve is president of the Church’s North America Northeast Area, which includes Chicago, and Elder Cuthbert is first counselor in that presidency.
The dedication was a day of fulfillment for many of the temple district’s 160,000 members in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. In addition to contributing toward building of the temple, many had labored to help furnish it or make it ready for the dedication.
A couple from the Wilmette Illinois Stake, for example, helped unload and place furniture in the temple, then clean it prior to the open house, which began July 15. “It was such a privilege to be asked to help,” the wife recalled. “We wept as we vacuumed and dusted.”
Women from throughout the temple district who are skilled in crocheting and tatting made altar cloths for the ordinance and sealing rooms. One 78-year-old sister from Indiana wrote that though the infirmities of age might make it difficult for her to go to the temple, she was thrilled to be able to participate in this way. An 82-year-old sister from the Dayton Ohio East Stake sent with her finished altar cloth a note offering to make a second one if it were needed; she wept when she received a telephone call accepting her offer.
A group of girls in the St. Paul Third Ward, St. Paul Minnesota Stake, made a dozen dolls for the nursery in the temple, each named for the girl who made it, with the names embroidered on the back. The dolls were presented as the girls toured the temple during the open house. Afterward, their leaders wrote to temple matron Betty Cahoon: “It was an exceptionally good experience for the girls to do something that would be meaningful for the young people. It will be a wonderful memory for them.”
The temple not only touched Latter-day Saints, but also many non-LDS visitors. Some 100,065 visited the temple before the open house ended August 3. They expressed sentiments such as “an obvious place of devotion,” “I felt the hand of God,” “everyone should feel closer to God in this special place.”
On 13 August 1983, President Hinckley participated in the ground-breaking ceremonies at the temple site, saying it was “a day of history. It will be an even greater day when the temple to be built here is completed and dedicated.”
That day has come.