“London Temple Rededicated,” Ensign, Jan. 1993, 75–76
On the final day of the rededication of the London Temple, the heavens opened in more ways than one; overnight, more than one inch of rain flooded southern England. Many were reminded of the temple’s original dedication in 1958, when similar rains deluged the area.
But the spirits of members attending the dedication were not dampened as thousands flocked to the temple site, located in the village of Newchapel, to attend rededication ceremonies held October 18–20. President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, Counselors in the First Presidency, presided over ten rededication sessions. In addition, President Howard W. Hunter and Elders Dallin H. Oaks and M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve attended the rededication, as did the Europe North Area presidency: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, area president, and his counselors, Elders Kenneth Johnson and Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy.
On the last day of rededication ceremonies, members who had traveled some fourteen hours from Scotland and Ireland stood in the rain for nearly two hours waiting to attend the ceremonies. Wet hair, shoes, and clothes notwithstanding, spirits were high as the group spontaneously began singing hymns. The singing continued for almost an hour.
In his remarks at the rededication, President Hinckley, who served a mission to England during the 1930s, commented on the spirit of the Saints in this part of the world. He recalled some of his missionary experiences and then read from the address he delivered thirty-four years ago at the temple’s first dedication. At the time he was a newly sustained member of the Quorum of the Twelve and was responsible for temple sites and construction and operations.
“‘This building cannot be reckoned alone in terms of pounds sterling; it must be reckoned in terms of struggle and sacrifice and devotion and loyalty and love and faith and testimony and conviction. What a price it has cost! But it has been worth every farthing because it now offers to the people of this and other lands the wholeness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.’”
In his remarks, President Monson spoke of his British Isles ancestry, noting that his great-grandfather and brother, coal miners in the shire of Clackmannan in Scotland, were some of the earliest converts to the Church.
“I’m so grateful that one of my ancestors left the coal mines and became a workman in an inn where Elder Sharp from the United States came to visit and taught him the gospel,” President Monson said.
In part, the dedicatory prayer read: “We thank thee for this nation on which thou hast smiled through centuries of time. We recognize that it was at Runnymede, in this county of Surrey, in the year 1215 that the Magna Charta was signed, establishing principles in behalf of the freedom and dignity of man. Through all of the centuries that have followed, these rights have been preserved, implemented, and enlarged. They have spread from here and have been incorporated in the constitutions and charters of other nations across the earth who also have established governments that derive their powers from the consent of the governed. Freedom to think, to speak, to assemble, and to worship is basic to the happiness of mankind. We acknowledge thy divine hand in the establishment and preservation of that freedom in this the United Kingdom. …
“Dear Father, please accept this thy holy house and let thy Spirit dwell herein at all times and in all circumstances. We pray that it might serve as thine abode and as the abode of thy beloved Son. We pray that it might always be kept worthy of thy divine presence.”
Prior to the rededication, an open house was held from October 8 to October 14. In all, 55,223 people made the visit, including thousands of individuals of other faiths. In some cases, people waited as much as three hours to tour the temple and view an open house video and display. The video and display were a cooperative effort by the Public Affairs, Missionary, and Temple departments in Salt Lake City. The six-minute video introduced visitors to the history and significance of temples, the theme of eternal families, and the Christ-centered nature of temples.
A surprising number of teenagers and young adults attended the open house. During midday, when chartered coaches from stakes came in, the mix was predominantly Church members. However, during morning and evening hours, nonmembers outnumbered members by a ratio of about three to one.
Publicity surrounding the open house was extensive. Working closely with those of the area public affairs council, members distributed 1,000 color posters and 200,000 color flyers. Thousands of personalized invitation letters were issued, and a series of advertisements appeared in local and regional newspapers.
The temple, originally dedicated by President David O. McKay, has been closed for two and a half years for extensive remodeling. The redecorating and remodeling, which included the addition of a fourth floor within the original three-story structure, were so extensive that the temple’s interior is essentially new.
Response from those attending the rededication and open house activities was overwhelming. Charles D. Cartwright, a nonmember from Telford, wrote to thank local Church leaders for opening the temple during the open house to those of other faiths. “My impressions can be summed up in one word, and that is awe-inspiring,” he wrote. “The splendour of the celestial room was, I consider, the greatest experience of my life.”
The highlight of the open house for Val and Chris Meese, a young married couple, was showing their non-LDS parents the very sealing room where they would shortly be sealed together.
The events were “the experience of a lifetime,” for Anthony Paternoster, a stake president and temple recorder, and his wife, Iris. “We’ve gone through a range of emotions as we saw, at first, the old building being ‘destroyed’ before our eyes. One night in March 1992, we looked out from … where we were working. Suddenly the new floodlights for the temple were put on as a test. It was as though life was suddenly being breathed back into the temple once more.”