LOUISVILLE, KY. — The day dawned with rain pouring down, but still a flood of faithful Church members eagerly and gratefully attended the dedication of the Louisville Kentucky Temple on March 19.
President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, presided over the dedication and was mindful of the adverse weather that accompanied the special day. He affectionately and sympathetically referred to the choir that sang outside during the cornerstone ceremony as the "umbrella choir."
Accompanying President Monson to the dedication were Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Dantzel, and Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy and his wife, Sharon. Elder Dunn is president of the North America East Area.
The "umbrella choir" wasn't alone standing out in the rain. All those attending the four dedicatory sessions in the temple or the adjacent Crestwood meetinghouse, and at the stake center on the eastern edge of Louisville, had to huddle under umbrellas, sometimes for hours, before getting inside. Because of the limited parking area at the temple, members parked their vehicles at a location more than a mile away and were shuttled to the temple in buses.
But even huddled under umbrellas for some relief from the windblown, chilling downpour, the consensus among the members was that it was worth it for the chance to participate in the dedication of a temple in their midst.
Perhaps Stan Holmes of the Crestwood 2nd Branch, Louisville Kentucky Stake, put it best after spending several wet hours helping with traffic control. He said, "If someone had asked me two years ago if I would be willing to stand in the rain all day to get a temple, I would have gladly said, 'Yes!' "
The Louisville temple is geographically located under an umbrella of temples from St. Louis to Chicago to Columbus, Ohio. Members in the 10 stakes of the new temple district have previously attended one of those three, and now most will have hours cut off the travel time to reach a temple.
But that is only one of the blessings that spawned gratitude and enthusiasm among the members on a rainy day. Many, when asked about the adverse conditions, didn't complain but brightly spoke of the blessing of good weather the area experienced during the temple construction and the open house. Weather conditions were generally ideal when they brought their friends — more than 21,000 attended the open house — to tour the temple before it was dedicated.
And as for the construction, President Michael Gillenwater of the New Albany Indiana Stake said there was an unusual winter drought that was ideal for the working conditions and continued until the building was enclosed.
Credit for the timely and smooth construction was also given by many people to Don Poulsen of the Crestwood 2nd Branch who left another job to supervise the project for its contractor. President Carl Britsch of the Louisville Kentucky Stake said that Brother Poulsen made the temple a labor of love, spending many hours on the job and making sure that everything down to the most minute detail was appropriate for a House of the Lord. He also insisted that those working on the temple conduct themselves appropriately for the job they were doing.
Brother Poulsen's son, Ben, worked on the project to earn money for his mission which was fast approaching, and had a special blessing, President Britsch continued. When the time came, Ben joined his father in the cab of the crane and helped place the statue of Angel Moroni on the temple's spire. "Talk about a great experience for a young elder to have that opportunity to put the statue on a temple you helped build right before you go on a mission. This young man was on fire when he left."
The spirit of the temple touched many members. President Britsch's wife, Jo Lynne, spoke of the special spirit present when a group of Young Women gathered in a sealing room during construction to assemble the temple's chandeliers. They spontaneously began singing hymns and before long, some of the construction workers who were not members of the Church and others were touched emotionally.
Sister Britsch said: "For these Young Women who have never been in the temple before, except maybe to do baptisms for the dead, after all these years of having their teachers tell them about getting married in the temple, then there they are in the sealing room putting the chandeliers together and seeing what it's like. Now they say that is the only place they'll go to get married."
During one of the dedicatory sessions, Sister Sandy Gillenwater, wife of the New Albany Indiana Stake president, said the blessing of the temple struck her in a significant way. She looked at her 9-year-old son, Isaiah, and said, "You will be back in this room in another 10 years when you are preparing for your mission." Then she told her 11-year-old daughter, Natalie, "You will be back in this room in another 10 years when you are preparing for marriage or a mission."
One of the most spiritually touching moments in the temple for President Britsch came during the tour for area dignitaries the day before the public open house began. Government leaders, including Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton, and prominent citizens, joined the tour. State Sen. Dan Kelly and his wife, Darlene, were showing some of the friends through the temple and explaining its purpose.
"Once they got into the celestial room, they came together and grabbed and squeezed each others' hands. To me, that exemplified everything we are about — families coming together."
Located on a forested hill in rural Pewee Valley — named for a small bird indigenous to the area, according to Crestwood 1st Ward Bishop Steven Button — about 12 miles northeast of Louisville, the new temple has been readily accepted in the community. Mark and Valerie Blackwell, who worked together on the temple committee, said that the temple has received considerable media coverage in the greater Louisville area, both print and broadcast, and that it has been positive coverage.
The feeling remained positive, even through the day of dedication as people endured the weather. An example of that feeling was Sherry Butler who drove more than 120 miles from Indianapolis, Ind., for the dedication of her new temple. She and others from the Indianapolis Indiana Stake were in line for their 2 p.m. session even before those for the 11:30 a.m. session were admitted to the temple. As she shivered in the cold rain, she declared with a laugh, "My spirit is singing but my body is freezing."
Then she said, looking at the meetinghouse across the parking lot, "I can't imagine being able to attend sacrament meeting every Sunday literally in the shadow of a temple."