Elder Monte J. Brough of the Seventy and president of the North America Southeast Area called the new temple a partial fulfillment of prophecy and asked the congregation, gathered from nine stakes in Louisiana and Mississippi, to remember their obligations to their Heavenly Father. "May He help us understand our responsibility to assure that this temple won't be empty," Elder Brough said.
He presided at the service, which was conducted by Elder Stephen A. West of the Seventy and second counselor in the area presidency. Also in attendance were Elder James E. Griffin, an Area Authority Seventy, and numerous local Church and community leaders. Pres. Ole Christensen of the Denham Springs Louisiana Stake offered the invocation and Pres. Brent Rawson of the Baton Rouge Louisiana Stake gave the benediction.
The Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple — which will be built in a picturesque area between the Baton Rouge stake center and a wetland nature reserve — will serve members of the Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, Monroe, New Orleans and Slidell stakes in Louisiana and the Gulfport, Hattiesburg and Jackson stakes in Mississippi.
During his address, Elder Brough said the greatest revelation of the latter days was when Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ. "This experience allowed Joseph to have actual knowledge of the Father and the Son," he said.
Continuing, Elder Brough explained that all men must come to know the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ. That, he affirmed, is the purpose of temples. "It is a process whereby we come to know Jesus Christ because we act as saviors, in a modest sense, to bring to those who have not had a chance across this earth and those who lived prior to our time the opportunity to hear the gospel, to accept the gospel and to be members of Heavenly Father's Church."
Elder Brough also spoke of the revelation that occurred on Sept. 21, 1823, when the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and quoted Malachi: "The hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers."
Elder Brough said dramatically increased interest in family history research, rapidly changing technology and dozens of temples currently being constructed across the earth are fulfilment of Malachi's prophecy.
"Last year, " he said, "the Family History Department filmed in many different countries, gathering millions of names. At current rates, we have collected enough names to keep the temples busy for a long time," he said. "We really have no excuse."
After his address, Elder Brough offered a site-dedication prayer. Following the prayer, he conducted the groundbreaking with Elder West, Elder Griffin and the nine stake presidents.
Children were then invited to participate, followed by those who had been members of the Church in the South for more than 50 years.
During his remarks, Elder West told the story of a beautiful pen that he kept to write his family history but never used. He stressed that the temple, wonderful and beautiful, is meant to be used.
"As we go to the temple with our children and grandchildren to do baptisms, as we go to the temple with our sons and daughters who are leaving on missions, as we go with them as they are married and sealed together for an eternal family unit, as we go on behalf of our family members, we write our family history," he explained.