Ground is broken for Hong Kong Temple to serve 18,400 members in mission, four stakes

Calling the groundbreaking for the Hong Kong Temple "the third great historic event for China and Hong Kong," Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy presided over groundbreaking ceremonies Saturday, Jan. 22.

Elder Carmack, president of the Asia Area, was acting under the direction of the First Presidency.Also participating in the groundbreaking ceremonies were Elder Kwok Yuen Tai and Elder David E. Sorensen, members of the Seventy and counselors in the area presidency; Pres. David Lowe, president of the Hong Kong Mission; Elder Johnson Ma, regional representative; stake and ward leaders in Hong Kong; and their wives and invited guests.

Plans to build the temple were announced in general conference in October 1992 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency. After several sites were considered, the decision was made to build the temple at the site of the Hong Kong mission home in Kowloon Tong on the Kowloon Peninsula.

The temple will serve the 18,400 members of the Church in the Hong Kong Mission and four stakes: Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong Kowloon, Hong Kong Kowloon North, and Hong Kong New Territories.

In his address at the ceremony, Elder Carmack briefly recounted the history of the Church in the area.

He said Elder David O. McKay, then a member of the Council of the Twelve, officiated in the first great historical event for the Church in China when he dedicated the whole of China for the preaching of the gospel on Jan. 9, 1921.

"Elder McKay had been given authority to dedicate China by offering a solemn dedicatory prayer if he felt so inclined and the Spirit moved him," Elder Carmack said. While in what is now Beijing, Elder McKay dedicated China with a prayer offered inside the walls of the "Forbidden City," the former home of emperors and nobility.

Elder Carmack referred to Elder McKay's dedication of the land, which included Hong Kong, as it was not separated from other parts of China at that time. He noted it will soon be joined with China under one government.

Then Elder Carmack told of the second great historic event. He said Elder Matthew Cowley, a member of the Council of the Twelve, led a group of Church members on July 14, 1949, to what is known as the Peak, the highest point overlooking the city of Hong Kong. There Elder Cowley and Henry Aki, a native of China, offered prayers officially opening missionary work.

"Thus," Elder Carmack said, "China has been dedicated, and that dedication was reinforced by solemn prayers at the Peak. When the complete gospel plan is on the earth and among a people, a temple is at the center of it. Sacred instructions and ordinances and work for deceased ancestors by proxy take place there. This, then, is the third great historic event for China and Asia - the breaking of ground for the Hong Kong Temple.

"What we do here is spiritually significant and historic as we break ground and start the Hong Kong Temple," said Elder Carmack. "Elder McKay dedicated the land, Elder Cowley commenced the missionary work from the Peak, and we commence a temple to the Lord. This day will loom large for Hong Kong and all of Asia.

"Let the work begin," proclaimed Elder Carmack.

Elder Tai recalled the history of the temple site. "This site has grown in the last 57 years from an ordinary residential plot to a sacred land to hold the Lord's temple," he said. "The building of a temple has ushered the Church development in Hong Kong into a new era.

He then suggested steps members should follow to prepare to enter the temple and receive its blessings:

"Pray daily for the smooth completion of the temple construction.

"Make our daily life worthy for holding a temple recommend. . . . Always hold a current temple recommend.

"Maintain [activity] in family history work and prepare to perform temple ordinances for our ancestors. . . .

"Attend [the] temple as frequently as we can and be familiarized with the holy ordinances. Prepare ourselves to be ready to serve in the Hong Kong Temple.

"Share this gospel of salvation with more friends and help the less-active to come back to enjoy the blessings of the temple."

Elder Tai concluded by saying: "Hong Kong is one of the blessed cities to have a temple. The Lord has instructed us to build temples to bless the people. Let us ready ourselves for the opening of the Hong Kong Temple."

Music was provided by a choir organized by Stanley Wan from employees in the Asia Area Office. Norris Cheung conducted the choir.

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