Children a part of temple celebration

When the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated in 1893, the children were not to be left out.

The First Presidency at the time, President Wilford Woodruff and his counselors George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, set aside two days during the dedication for children who were under age 8. (Older children were admitted to general sessions.)Five special sessions of dedication were held on April 21-22, attended by 12,000 people, including several thousand children. During each session, members of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve spoke briefly.

Now 100 years later, Primary children who live in the Salt Lake Temple district are being invited to visit the temple grounds on special tours hosted by the temple presidency.

"Children are a very important part of the Church and we wanted to include them in the centennial celebration, just as they were included in the dedication," said Pres. Spencer H. Osborn, president of the Salt Lake Temple.

This year's Primary focus on temples made the tours even more pertinent, Pres. Osborn added. "Children very seldom, unless they are attached to a wedding party, get close to this temple in particular. We felt it would be appropriate to invite children in our temple district to come to the temple on appointed days and see the temple up close with their leaders."

Tours of the temple grounds will be held each Saturday afternoon, from March 20 to May 22. (The temple closes to patrons at noon on Saturdays.)

"The children will circle the temple and stop to hear comments from temple workers stationed there who will explain a little bit about the markings and stonework," President Osborn related.

They will have a chance to have their picture taken and see how the temple relates as a whole to Temple Square, he added. As the children leave the grounds, they will be given a picture of the temple with facts about the edifice on the back as a memento.

"We have had a most remarkable response from all stakes within the temple district," President Osborn explained. "We wish we could open this to other stakes but we just don't have the time to schedule it.

"These children will remember this experience and probably plan and resolve right at that time that they will be inside the temple one of these days enjoying the blessings of temple ordinances. I think it will have a profound effect on some of the children."

Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president, added: "We are pleased that the temple presidency has planned such a worthwhile experience for children living in this temple district. This will be another influence in planting the desire in their hearts to someday receive the blessings of the temple.

"The temple is such an important part of the gospel and we are excited for every experience that helps the children understand that."

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