REXBURG, Idaho — On a hillside overlooking the fertile Upper Snake River Valley, generations of faithful Latter-day Saints were remembered during the groundbreaking of the new Rexburg Idaho Temple July 30.
Elder John H. Groberg of the Presidency of the Seventy presided at the gathering of an estimated 8,000 residents and students who attend nearby Brigham Young University-Idaho.
Elder Groberg, who currently serves as area supervisor over the Idaho Area and who will begin serving as president of the Idaho Falls Temple in November, recalled a time 60 years ago when he was an 11-year-old boy living in Idaho Falls about 30 miles away. At the meeting soon after the dedication of the new Idaho Falls Temple, he heard a Church leader say there would be more temples built in Idaho, and one would be very close to the Idaho Falls Temple.
"As he said those words, the impression came to my 11-year-old heart that one day there would be a temple in Rexburg, and, in some way, I would be involved. I never dreamed it would be this way," he said.
Elder Groberg said, "Temples are a connecting point between heaven and earth. Thus in a very real sense, many who have a deep interest in this area and in this people, including those who we often refer to as angels, are watching over this groundbreaking with joy and rejoicing in their posterity.
"Each new temple increases the power and goodness of power and light on the earth and weakens the power of evil and darkness. Where light is, darkness cannot exist. This temple will increase the light of goodness not only in Rexburg but throughout the whole world. Over the years tens of thousands of students and others who live and study here will go forth to all parts of the earth and beyond, with the bright light of truth burning in their souls and the souls of their families, to attract those who desire more light in their lives."
Following his address, Elder Groberg dedicated the temple site.
The temple will serve local Church members in the Upper Snake River Valley along with the nearly 12,000 students attending BYU-Idaho, which is located adjacent to the temple site.
Participating in the groundbreaking were Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the First Quorum of Seventy and managing director of the Temple Department; Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the First Quorum of Seventy; and Area Seventies Elder Gerald A. Mead of Pocatello, Elder Ronald J. Hammond of Rexburg, and Elder Brent H. Neilson of Twin Falls.
Others assisting in the groundbreaking were 17 stake presidents from Rexburg, Sugar City, Driggs, St. Anthony, Ashton and BYU-Idaho.
Prior to the groundbreaking, Richard Smith of Rexburg, who served as chairman of the temple groundbreaking committee, spoke about early Rexburg settlers. His great-grandfather, Fred Smith, was one of the first 10 men led by Bishop Thomas E. Ricks to arrive in 1883 in what would become Rexburg.
Brother Smith said, "A temple helps us remember those many unsung and forgotten lives who did not leave a history and who little is said about. . . . Many lived in times when the focus was more on survival than on spiritual things. It is through the temple that we remember those whom we revere and we will go about to serve. The building of the temple is also about you, all of those who gather here this day. . . . It's about students who come here from every state of this nation and 50 other countries at BYU-Idaho and here they gain a greater testimony of our Savior and here they learn what a wonderful blessing are temple activity and covenants we make in the temple."
Elder Hammond said, "As the ground opens and as the shovel breaks it and turns it, your spiritual senses will know immediately that something very, very significant is happening — something that at once disturbs the devil and blesses God's children on both sides of the veil."
Elder Hammond asked, "And what do we hear with our spiritual ears when the shovel opens the ground? We hear a different kind of voice from the dust. The collective spirit world voice of millions whose lives and whose bodies now sleep in the earth. A voice representing the renewed hope of ancestors long dead that we will find them, and help them and set them free through family history and temple service. Without us, they cannot be perfected."
Following the groundbreaking, former Idaho Falls Temple President Mark Ricks of Rexburg remarked, "I think this has been the most profound announcement in my generation — or any generation — to have a temple in our midst. I've looked forward to this day. My father, a former Rexburg stake president, always said there would be a temple in Rexburg someday."
Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the First Quorum of Seventy and a former resident of Rexburg, commented following the services, "I don't know that I have ever been more touched in a very spiritual way as I envisioned the building of a temple of the Lord in Rexburg. As I looked at all these people today, I felt very confident that the Church will grow and prosper even more here."
Currently in Idaho, temples are operating in Idaho Falls and Boise, with another planned for Twin Falls. The Rexburg Idaho Temple is the 129th temple announced by the Church.