Temple centennial to highlight laborers' skills, sacrifice, beliefs

A century ago, on April 6, 1893, Latter-day Saints rent the air with joyful exclamations as they celebrated the dedication of the great Salt Lake Temple.

Forty years of construction had culminated in a final year's effort of heroic proportions. Members considered completion of the temple to be the most significant event in the history of the territory. Today, it remains "the centerpiece of Zion," said Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy.Elder Dunn is chairman of the temple centennial committee that is serving under the direction of the First Presidency in overseeing the events commemorating the temple's centennial. The committee is comprised of Elder Dunn, executive director of the Historical Department and president of the Utah Central Area; and his counselors, Elders Lloyd P. George and John E. Fowler of the Seventy. Elder Spencer H. Osborn, president of the Salt Lake Temple and formerly of the Seventy, is also a member of the committee.

Included in the commemoration of the temple's centennial, according to Elder Dunn, will be:

A major exhibit on the building of the temple that will open in the Museum of Church History and Art on March 27.

A feature film, The Mountain of the Lord, which depicts the drama and sacrifice of the Saints in building the temple. This film will be shown over the Church satellite system between sessions of general conference on Saturday, April 3. The film will be shown later on TV channels.

A special program in the Tabernacle Choir's weekly broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word" on Sunday, April 4.

Placement of an original Salt Lake Temple mural, "Christ Among the Nephites," painted by William Armitage about the time the temple was dedicated, in the Salt Lake Temple. The painting, which had been misplaced, was located last year in storage at BYU, and has since been restored.

Parade entries by wards and stakes reflecting the centennial as the theme of the Days of '47 parade on July 24.

A plaque will be placed at the temple quarry site in Little Cottonwood Canyon by the state Parks and Recreation Division, and a nature trail in the area will be created.

The museum exhibit is among the most significant of the commemoration projects, said Elder Dunn. The exhibit tells the story of the planning, constructing, adorning and dedicating of the temple. The exhibit will have five sections that will include documentary photographs, original architectural drawings, art work and artifacts.

"The centennial honors those who labored 40 years to build the House of the Lord," said Elder George. "The temple is an enduring witness to their skill, sacrifice and beliefs. It also reminds those who worship within the temple today that they are a covenant people bound by sacred promises to love the Lord and build His kingdom upon earth."

He commented that sacred covenants pertaining to eternal life are found within the temple. These "are the basis of our whole religion. Adherence to the things we receive in the temple should be the focus of all dedicated members of the Church."

Elder George observed that the dedication of the builders of the temple was reflected in the fact that five of them died in accidents while completing the temple. "They were all of one mind and one thought to accomplish the purpose of building this temple."

"Some common, ordinary people," said Elder Fowler, "did magnificent things under the direction of the prophets to accomplish the work of the Lord."

He pointed out his research of the centennial awakened a realization of the tremendous sacrifices that were made in order for the temple to be built. "The temple was truly started when the Saints were in their extremities, as far as poverty was concerned."

After a century of operation, the temple has come to represent the Church, he explained. "No single symbol exemplifies the Church more than the Salt Lake Temple. It is used to identify the Church in almost every place in the world."

Elder Fowler said the temple was constructed by a people who had been driven from one place to another, and from their two previous temples, and who had been unable to attach permanence to their locations.

"Yet they built with granite. They were able to attach permanence to it in a climate of a people who had never really had a feel for permanence - they accomplished a marvel."

Pres. Osborn said: "We hope the temple centennial brings the spirit of renewal in the hearts of members today. We would hope that this occasion would serve as encouragement for those who may have been married in the temple years ago to come back and renew their covenants. The things that took place in the temple are so important in their lives. I would hope we could make greater use of the temple."

He said the temple "should engender in our hearts a feeling of respect for the sacrifices made by the pioneers." The heritage of the pioneers belongs to all members equally, whether they are new members or fourth- or fifth-generation members, emphasized Pres. Osborn.

The temple, he explained, remains the focal point of civilization in the West. "I don't suppose it will ever be closer to dedication shape than it is right now. Everything is in first-class condition."

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