Morning fog and drizzling rain cleared in time to allow blue, sunny skies for the 3,500 members and friends who gathered at the St. Paul Minnesota Stake Center for the Sept. 26 groundbreaking ceremony of the Minnesota Temple.
This small, 10,000-square-foot temple will be built on the wooded, 18-acre site of the existing St. Paul stake center. It will serve a temple district of some 20,000 members from six Minnesota stakes - St. Paul, Minneapolis, Duluth, Rochester, Burnsville and Anoka - and the Fort Frances Ontario District.Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony were members of the North America Central Area presidency, Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, president, and his counselors, Elder Kenneth Johnson and Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi, all of the Seventy. Also participating and coordinating the groundbreaking activities was Elder Thomas A. Holt, Area Authority Seventy and a resident of Minneapolis. Oakdale City is a suburb of St. Paul and the community in which the temple will be built.
Seated on the stand with the Church leaders were Minnesota State Rep. Nora Slawik and Oakdale City Mayor Bill Pulkrabek.
After they spoke, the three members of the area presidency and the area authority turned over the first shovelfuls of dirt, symbolically signaling the beginning of construction. They were followed by Mayor Pulkrabek, Rep. Slawik, stake and mission presidents, old timers in the area and some children from the audience.
In his opening remarks, Elder Pinnock directed a few words to the dignitaries attending and other city officials, who had been instrumental in the speedy approval of temple plans.
"We promise you a beautiful edifice will be raised on this site," Elder Pinnock said. Speaking to the mayor, Elder Pinnock continued, "You will be pleased with what you and others will see built in this community."
Construction on the temple is to begin immediately. Elder Pinnock said the sacred edifice is expected to be operational a year from the day of groundbreaking ceremony.
During his address, Elder Pinnock said in closing remarks of the ceremony that the temple "will stand as a remarkable symbol of God's love of our ancestors. Let us pray that not only the building will be constructed well, but also our own lives will be constructed well." He added, "You have prayed for this day for so long."
He then spoke of some important concepts, which included, "Your temple recommend is the most valuable piece of paper you have; we can't help but be thankful for other blessings a temple brings; our children will grow in righteousness; we become a little more like [the Father] and His Son Jesus Christ because [of the temple].
"Temples are great equalizers. We are [all] asked the same questions, as men and women we participate in the same ordinances, make the same covenants and we all dress in white in our beautiful temples. We will be together forever as families if we live as we should here on earth.
"I testify to you that we are led by a living prophet of God. In his musings today, he is aware of this event and the Saints gathering here today. This very day has been scheduled because of your dedication."
"This is a historic occasion," said Elder Johnson. "Temples link the past with the present and give a vision of the future. Have you noticed the international flavor here? Elder Pinnock is from the United States, Elder Kikuchi is from Japan and I come from the United Kingdom."
"Think of what the temple does," Elder Johnson said. "If it were not for the Lord Jesus Christ there would be no temples. If it were not for our Redeemer, we could not qualify to enjoy the blessings of eternal families."
Elder Kikuchi said: "I rejoice with you for the wonderful blessing you have received. In the next 12 months, we can prepare ourselves. The temple is the place where `the Lord will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit.'(D&C 97:9.)"
He encouraged the members to "go about to bring (the less-active) so they can also be in the garner. We're also anxious to share with those who are not yet members."
He also spoke of the work that will be done to "seek out our forefathers."
"We've waited a long time," said Elder Holt, commenting that the first known Latter-day Saints in Minnesota came in 1847 "from Nauvoo to visit their sons and were persuaded to stay."
As Minnesotans were converted, he said, the new members moved to Utah, until priesthood leaders instructed members to stay where they were and build the Church.
"For decades," Elder Holt continued, "the closest temple was Salt Lake City, a two-day drive." Presently, Minnesota is in the Chicago Illinois Temple District, a seven- to 14-hour drive for most Minnesota members.
Elder Holt said the first stake in Minnesota was organized in 1960. "Now we have six stakes."
Before the second stake was organized, he said, he was assigned to find a site for the stake center and had "looked at several sites and felt nothing" until he came to "this beautiful site heavily wooded with oak trees." The Spirit bore witness to him, he said, that this was to be the place for the St. Paul stake center - and now the site for our Minnesota Temple. The Lord chose this place," Elder Holt said.
"What an exciting day," said Roger McBride, Burnsville Minnesota Stake high councilor, who, with his 10-year-old son, Nathan, helped in ushering.
The community has reacted positively to the building of the temple, said Vicki Reid, regional public affairs director. "The newspaper has published three articles about the temple. The local media called me for information before I even knew about it."
Many youth attended the groundbreaking ceremony. Mia Maid Heidi Olson of Duluth said they no longer will have the two-day trips to the Chicago temple, but "now we can go more than once a year and feel the Spirit more."