Wind and steady rain "washed and polished" Cardston for a week prior to the rededication of the Alberta Temple June 22-24, but warmth from sun and Spirit was evidenced throughout 12 dedicatory sessions attended by about 24,000 Church members.
The granite temple, the first built outside the United States and a center of faith and focus since 1923, had been closed three years for extensive renovation. With work complete, it was opened to the public from June 6-15. More than 101,000 people attended the open house, assisted by 5,000 volunteers. An estimated two-thirds of the guests were not LDS. The average distance of travel to attend was figured at just over 100 miles.Dedicatory prayer, page 7; additional stories, photos and excerpts from speakers, pages 8-11.
Story after story was told of people of all faiths being touched by the temple's beauty and spirit. Many non-members who went through had lived in the region for decades. They finally had the chance to see inside the building they had admired from the outside.
Following the open house, the temple was closed and cleaned. The dawn of dedication June 22 saw 1,937 fill the temple and overflow into the stake center across the street. Sessions originated from the celestial room and were carried via television monitors throughout both buildings. Music was provided by combined choirs from the temple district's 22 stakes in Alberta, southeast British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, western Ontario and northern Montana.
President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson conducted the sessions and spoke. President Hinckley pronounced the dedicatory prayer at the first session; President Monson read the prayer in the second session. They and other General Authorities read the prayer in the other 10 sessions.
This was the third dedicatory service at the Alberta Temple. President Heber J. Grant dedicated the temple beginning Aug. 26, 1923, in 11 sessions.
Then on July 2, 1962, President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency dedicated a new addition to the temple in a ceremony attended by about 700 people.
"We feel, as we are gathered here, the presence of the Lord in these sacred premises," said President Hinckley at the opening session. "Surely this is a great and wonderful day for all of us. I feel deeply touched."
President Hinckley smiled as he said the Lord had "baptized" the entire area with the recent storms. "I've been to Cardston a number of times, but have never seen it as washed and polished as it is now. I'm grateful that President [Joseph F.T Smith had the inspiration to build the temple here."
President Hinckley mentioned the General Authorities and officers in attendance. He expressed "deep regret" that President Ezra Taft Benson was unable to be present due to his advanced age, and noted the love President and Sister Flora Benson have for temples and for Alberta. The Bensons have family members in Calgary and have made many trips to Alberta through the years.
Throughout the dedication, love for the Bensons was constantly expressed, and the prophet was remembered in opening and closing prayers. President Monson, in the second session, recalled the Bensons' dedication to temple work. When health permitted, they would attend the temple every Friday, said President Monson. "President and Sister Benson love temples. They also love Alberta, and all of Canada."
Speaking of the refurbished temple, President Hinckley noted that not only is the spiritual work done therein beautiful, but the physical interior as well.
"I think the original architects, Harold Burton and Hyrum Pope, would be satisfied with what has been done here."
At a later session, President Hinckley urged members of the temple district to attend the temple often to make up for time lost while the structure was being renovated.
"Now that this building has been rededicated, we need to use it doubly to make up for the loss of time," he admonished. "This is important, very important. This work is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I urge you to use it, work it. This temple is beautiful and magnificent, but it isn't a place to be looked upon, it's a place to be used. It is the house of God, and He invites us to come here."
President Hinckley noted that the Church's 44 temples are monuments that Latter-day Saints believe in the immortality of the soul. "Every one of these temples is a monument to the eternity of life. Everything that occurs here is concerned with the eternity of the human soul."
Both counselors on several occasions spoke to the youth and children attending, expressing joy at their presence and challenging them to attend the temple for baptisms at age 12 and to prepare for endowments and sealings later on.
"Thank you for being here," said President Hinckley to youth and their parents. "Thank you for your worthiness to be here."
President Monson, at the fifth session, told of a grandfather who took his young granddaughter on her birthday to touch the large doors of the Salt Lake Temple. She felt the large doorknob. He explained what would be required of her to someday return, and challenged her to live worthy to do so.
"I hope that each one of you young people will touch the temple sometime today. Remember the spirit you feel. Remember this day and pledge to yourself: `I will return and partake of the ordinances here."
President Monson told young people to "marry in the house of the Lord." He suggested that pictures of temples serve as good reminders to children and youth of that important goal.
Earlier, in the first session, President Monson spoke of his love for Canada, retraced some of the history of the Church in the area and reflected on leaders from Alberta with whom he has served.
"This land, this temple district, is filled with faith and marked with love," he said. "The men and women I have known from Canada have taught with power and authority. I pay tribute to all of those who have gone before and paved a way to follow. I think it's nice having a temple anchoring the eastern part of Canada in Toronto, and one anchoring the western part of the country, in Cardston.
"This is an opportunity today to rededicate ourselves as we rededicate this temple. Let us examine our lives and make that improvement where improvement needs to be made. We are privileged once again to have this temple performing its beautiful and sacred function. The great impact of this holy house is to make of mortal families eternal families."
He emphasized that temples help people learn to render unselfish service. "In the holy temple we learn to serve one another. We leave our selfish concerns behind.
"God bless all of you," President Monson said. "Not only do you have royal blood in your veins, but the Spirit of the Lord in your hearts."