Blaine Taylor Harper, 57, Mapleton 5th Ward, Mapleton Utah Stake; Aba Nigeria Temple, succeeding President Jerry Valient Kirk. President Harper's wife, Miriam Ecker Harper, will serve as temple matron. He is in a branch presidency at the Provo MTC; former president of the Nigeria Ibadan Mission, stake president, bishop and counselor. Retired president, owner of American Glass Exchange. Born in Provo, Utah, to Blaine Broadhead and Hazel Joyce Taylor Harper.
Sister Harper served in the Nigeria Ibadan Mission; former ward Young Women president and adviser, and counselor in ward Relief Society and Primary presidencies. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Harold Sand and Beverly Jean Snyder Ecker.
ABA, Nigeria — It was in 1998 that Nigerian saints lined the walkways to a piece of property on a beautiful hillside in Aba, Nigeria. President Gordon B. Hinckley was coming and they were waving and singing songs of praise to God on high. President Hinckley was smiling broadly and waving back. Most had tears of joy in their eyes or running down their faces.
The newest temple in the Church now sits on that piece of property.
Before the doors of the Aba Nigeria Temple were opened to the public on June 18, okadas (motorcycles used as taxis), taxis and buses were arriving with members of the Church and guests. Some arrived the previous night. The members had waited excitedly since Feb. 23, 2002, when the groundbreaking ceremony took place. The men came in white shirts and ties, the ladies in colorful African dresses with beautiful headpieces.
For two days prior to the public open house, approximately 100 media representatives, as well as nearly 800 prominent government, business, education, religious and tribal leaders, came to the special open house showings of the 121st temple of the Church.
Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy and president of the Africa West Area addressed the media before their tour of the temple. He expressed gratitude for their coverage of the temple open house. He said, "We hope you will leave here with an understanding of why we build temples." More . . .
Twenty years ago, Elder Christopher N. Chukwurah, now an Area Authority Seventy in the Africa West Area, was baptized in the Ogbor River here. On Feb. 23, 2002, he stood within view of that site with others for the groundbreaking of the Aba Nigeria Temple.
More than 2,000 people — including members, Church leaders, state and local governmental leaders, and tribal chiefs from throughout southern Nigeria — gathered for the long-awaited occasion, coming by special bus, local transport and on foot. Under the direction of Elder H. Bruce Stucki, Africa West Area president, who also offered the dedicatory prayer and addressed the crowd, the groundbreaking ceremony occurred at the temple site on Okpu-Umuobo Road, just north of the Ogbor River. The service was conducted by Elder H. Ross Workman of the Seventy and first counselor in the area presidency. Other speakers included Elder R. Conrad Schultz of the Seventy and second counselor in the area presidency, and Elder Chukwurah.
"The mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to invite the children of God to return back into His presence," Elder Stucki told those gathered. "We believe the best way to accomplish this is to teach the people how to improve themselves both temporally and spiritually. We encourage them to perfect themselves. The buildings we build and the people we guide and strengthen will long stand as monuments to our commitment to assist in the building of this great country."
In his remarks, Elder Schultz said: "This temple will be a great addition to the community, the state and the nation. It will be a symbol of God's love to the people of Nigeria. Those who gather here to worship and covenant with God, will be peace loving, law abiding and patriotic citizens." More . . .
Almighty Father, to whom we bow with reverence and love, hear our prayer of dedication on this historic day. We are gathered together in a solemn assembly. Our hearts are filled with thanksgiving for this day when Thy holy house is completed.
No effort has been spared in erecting this sacred and singular house of the Lord, and in erecting the nearby stake center and other buildings.
We thank Thee for all that has gone before to make this day possible. We thank Thee for Thine ordained Prophet, Joseph Smith, who called upon Thee in prayer, and for Thine appearance, and the appearance of Thy Beloved Son and for the coming forth of Thy works that followed — the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the priesthood under the hands of those who held it anciently, the keys brought by Moses, Elias, and Elijah.
We thank Thee for the faith of Thy people through all of the many years since the Church was organized. At one time, they were driven and pursued, persecuted and murdered. Their love for the eternal gospel was stronger than their love of life. We thank Thee for this time when Thy Church is increasingly admired and respected.
We thank Thee for the revelation under which the priesthood has been made available to all worthy men, regardless of where they might live or any circumstances of their lives.
Now, acting in the authority of the holy Melchizedek priesthood in us vested, and in the name of our divine Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, we dedicate and consecrate unto Thee and Thy Beloved Son this the Aba Nigeria Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We dedicate the ground on which it stands with its vegetation which gives beauty and harmony to this and surrounding structures. We dedicate this magnificent temple itself, with all its parts, fixtures and appurtenances. We dedicate the footings, the foundation, and every part of the superstructure. We dedicate the walls, windows and doors, the roof, and the steeple with the shining figure of Moroni.
We dedicate all of the interior features, the baptistry, the various rooms and facilities for instruction and the administration of sacred ordinances, the magnificent celestial room, and the sealing rooms with their sacred altars. We dedicate the offices, halls, and other facilities that all may accommodate the needs of those who will here serve.
We pray, O God our Eternal Father, that Thou wilt accept this holy house as the gift of Thy faithful Saints throughout the world, whose tithes and offerings have made it possible. It stands resplendent in beauty and strength, a symbol to all of the eternal nature of man. Wilt Thou deign to visit it and glorify it with Thy presence. Cause that Thy Holy Spirit may dwell here at all times, that it may be sacred unto Thy people and magnificent in its purpose and design.
May all who look upon it do so with reverence and respect. May no unhallowed hand vandalize it in any way. May it always be sacred to those who are eligible to come within its walls. Save it from storm and tempest. We pray likewise for the associated structures, that all may stand together to serve Thy purposes.
In the spread of Thy work over the earth, we have in this good land and in other nations of Africa, strong stakes of Zion with disciples of great faith, obedient to Thee, and with a desire to carry eternal truth to many more.
Bless this nation that it may rise in strength and freedom among the nations of Africa. Bless its leaders that they may look with favor upon Thy Saints and safeguard their rights, property, and privileges.
Bless Thy faithful people and keep them from disease and pestilence, from poverty and want, from conflict of any kind, and from political oppression.
Dear Father, we pray for all who shall serve here, whether as workers or patrons. May they be worthy in every way. May no unworthy individual enter these sacred portals.
We ask that Thy special blessings may rest upon the temple president and his counselors, and upon the temple matron and her assistants. Grant them strength and energy to carry forward their arduous responsibilities, and may they find unmeasured joy in this consecrated service.
We also dedicate the beautiful new stake center. May it serve Thy people well. May it be respected as a sacred house of worship. May Thine eternal truth be spoken from its pulpit. May the precious privilege of partaking of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper be here enjoyed. May the classrooms be consecrated places of learning of Thee and Thy kingdom. May the recreation hall be a place of sociality and the building of friendship.
We likewise dedicate the structure which will accommodate the housing of temple patrons, together with all other facilities of this beautiful campus designed to bless Thy people in this good land.
We pray for Thy work throughout the earth and for all engaged in Thy service. We pray for Thy servant who is here today and is old in years. Give him strength according to his needs. Bless all of the general officers of Thy kingdom wherever they may serve. Inspire and magnify them in their responsibilities.
Now, Thou Great Elohim, again we express our thanks and our love. Again, we pray for Thy blessings, those requested and those unmentioned of which we stand in need. We bear witness and testimony to all the world of Thy living reality, our Father and our God; of the living reality of Thy Beloved Son, our Lord and Redeemer; and that Thou hast restored Thy Church and kingdom in this the dispensation of the fulness of times. We so testify and pray unto Thee in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, amen.