Caracas Venezuela Temple

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Announced: Sept. 30, 1995.

Location: Avenida C Con Calle C-1, Urb. Caurimare, Caracas D.F. 1062-A, Venezuela; phone: (58) 212-985-9123; no clothing rental.

Site: .5 acre.

Exterior finish: Granite.

Temple design: Classic modern.

Architect: Taller de Arquitectura and Church A&E Services.

Project manager: Duane Cheney.

Contractor: Jahn.

Rooms: Two ordinance rooms, two sealing rooms, celestial room, baptistry.

Total floor area: 15,332 square feet.

Dimensions: 78 feet by 115 feet.

District: Venezuela, Trinidad and Tabago.

Groundbreaking, site dedication: May 1, 1998, by President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency.

Dedication: Aug. 20, 2000, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; 4 sessions.

Dedicatory Prayer

Done by President Gordon B. Hinckley

Almighty Father, Thou great Elohim, we bow our heads before Thee in solemn prayer on this day of dedication. We are met to present unto Thee and to Thy Beloved Son this beautiful temple which has been erected as the House of the Lord. We are grateful for its presence. We thank Thee that we have been found worthy to have this sacred edifice in our midst.

Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with all of the blessings that flow therefrom. We thank Thee for the fulness of the everlasting priesthood, by which authority we act this day.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the authority of this priesthood we dedicate unto Thee, our Father and our God, and to our Savior, Thy Beloved Son, this the Caracas Venezuela Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We consecrate it for thy divine purposes and pray that Thou wilt accept it and let Thy favor rest upon it.

We dedicate the grounds which surround it, the footings and the foundation, the walls and windows, the figure of Moroni which crowns the steeple, the beautiful Baptistry, the endowment rooms, the sacred celestial room, the sealing rooms with their altars, and every other facility in this Thy house.

We pray that it may ever be sacred to all who look upon it and to all who serve within its walls. May it be reverenced as Thy divine abode. May it be sanctified as Thy dwelling place. May it be used in furthering Thy divine, eternal work in behalf of the living and the dead.

May the ordinances which are administered here be held sacred by all who receive them. Increase the understanding of and appreciation for these great and sacred activities which are eternal in all of their consequences.

May all who serve in the Baptistry, whether they be workers or patrons, do so with reverence and respect for those who have gone before. May they recognize Thy divine providence in providing for those beyond the veil of death, even those who were denied while they lived, the blessings of baptism and confirmation administered under proper authority.

May all who participate in the endowment service have added to their understanding concerning this most significant gift from Thee. May the covenants which they make be binding upon them as promises made unto Thee. May all who kneel at the altars of this Thy house and receive the sealing ordinances of the gospel recognize the everlasting consequences of that which they do. May they ever after live worthy of the great blessings which will flow therefrom.

Dear Father, please endow with power from on high those who come to this house before going out into the world to preach Thine everlasting gospel. May the endowment which they receive bring them power and understanding, and the companionship of Thy Holy Spirit as they go across the earth to teach that which Thou has restored in this the dispensation of the fullness of times.

Bless all who serve in this Thy house. May the president and his counselors, the matron and her assistants, be granted strength and vitality to carry forward and direct the great work to be performed here. May the workers and all who contribute in any way to the solemnity and spirit of Thy house be blessed in their ministry. Touch the hearts of all who come as patrons that they may recognize that they stand in holy places as they serve in Thine abode.

We pray for this great nation of Venezuela. May it hold its place among the sovereign nations of the earth. May its people be blessed and prospered. May they enjoy freedom to worship Thee without molestation of any kind. Bless the leaders of the nation with wisdom and understanding, and a great desire to serve the needs of the people.

We pray for Thy work wherever it may be established. May it grow and strengthen. May its numbers be increased, and its influence be felt throughout the world. Wilt Thou bring it forth "out of the wilderness of darkness," that it may "shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners" (D&C 109:73).

Smile with favor upon us we humbly ask Thee. Wilt Thou watch over us and lead us gently and with love as a shepherd leads his sheep we humbly pray as Thy thankful children, in the name of our Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

Venezuela saints rejoicing at new Caracas temple

By Jason Swensen

Church News staff writer

CARACAS, Venezuela — Just weeks after being baptized, Neville Cornwell was assigned to find a small building that he and a handful of other members from his tiny branch could rent for Sunday services near their homes in the Caracas suburb of California Norte.

Caracas Venezuela Temple
Caracas Venezuela Temple | Intellectual Reserve Inc.

It was the late 1960s and the Church was young in the Venezuelan capital. The full-time missionaries were making progress — but for most Caracans the restored gospel was a mystery. When Brother Cornwell and the rest of the branch began the first sacrament service in their newly rented "chapel" their songs and prayers hung on the heavy air outside.

"People walked by our building, stopped and began asking 'Que estan haciendo alla?' — 'What are they doing in there?' " Brother Cornwell recalled. The Caracas members overheard their queries, invited them in and taught them about the Church.

Now another clarion call has been sounded. With the Aug. 20 dedication of the Caracas Venezuela Temple, the Church's message of families and eternal life is reaching all of Venezuela — and again people are asking: "Que estan haciendo alla?'

"More than 28,000 people attended the temple open house, including many who had never heard of the Church," said Caracas Venezuela Urdaneta Stake President Jorge Alberto Ruiz. "Many left the temple in tears; one woman walked out and asked 'What next? How can I be a part of this Church?"

President Gordon B. Hinckley presided over the dedication of the Church's 96th temple. The prophet's presence, counsel and spirit touched thousands who had traveled from points throughout the South American country. After attending one of the four sessions inside the temple or at a neighboring chapel, members lingered outside in hopes of catching a glimpse of President Hinckley, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve who accompanied him, Elder Robert J. Whetten of the Seventy, president of the South America North Area, and other visiting authorities.

When President Hinckley, his wife, Marjorie, and the others climbed into cars and drove from the temple grounds, the procession was saluted by thousands of Venezuelan saints waving white handkerchiefs. Many sang "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet" in Spanish and snapped photos as the entourage passed. Families and friends embraced. Many wept.

President Hinckley, his face beaming, returned their waves and seemed moved by the demonstration of love. During his visit, he reminded the members that they are witnesses to a remarkable period in Church history. Prolific temple building is allowing more and more people to enjoy some of the Lord's most happy blessings. Never let a day pass without holding a current temple recommend, he counseled during his visit.

The two-storied marbled temple is efficiently designed on a small lot just a few yards away from a building that houses a meetinghouse and Church offices. Ordinance rooms, changing rooms and the celestial room are found on the temple's top floor, while a pair of stairways descend to the baptistry and a waiting room. The new temple has been the subject of several local news stories, including some filed the day of the dedication.

"Having the prophet dedicate the temple in our country is something I will always remember," said Carlos Ordeneta, who traveled 10 hours with scores of other members from Maracaibo, in western Venezuela. "The temple is the best thing that has ever happened to Venezuela."

The Maracaibo saints enjoy a reputation of being a faithful, missionary-minded lot. One day their diligence will be rewarded with a temple in their own city, Brother Ordeneta said.

Any dedicated temple operating inside Venezuela is, well, a miracle for many. While the faith has grown vigorously in some Latin American countries for many decades, there has been a Church presence here only since the late 1960s. In 1966, President Ted E. Brewerton (now an emeritus General Authority) of the Costa Rica Mission dispatched four of his elders to open Venezuela for missionary work. Among that quartet was David Bell.

The work was hard and slow when the missionaries arrived — in nine months only one couple was baptized, recalled Brother Bell, an Idaho resident who relished the opportunity of returning to Venezuela to attend the dedicatory session. Today there are more than 80,000 members in the country.

Participating in South America's eighth temple dedication was personally rewarding for Elder Ballard. On Christmas Day 75 years ago, Elder Ballard's apostle grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, gathered together a few Church leaders in a park in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and dedicated South America for missionary work. In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Melvin J. Ballard prophesied that the South American Mission would become a power in the Church.

Now Elder M. Russell Ballard is witnessing prophesy being fulfilled.

"It was just tremendous to see the growth in Venezuela," Elder Ballard told the Church News. "The Lord is pouring out blessings on the Latin American countries."

The new temple is already proving to be Venezuela's most effective full-time missionary. Besides the numerous referrals gleaned at the open house, the missionaries and members are using their discussions to emphasize the blessings available to all inside this new sacred house, said President James B. Martino of the Maracaibo Venezuela Mission.

Temples bring blessings — and new responsibilities, Caracas stake President Ruiz said.

"The Venezuelan temple will leave our people spiritually refined," he said. "Our people are going to change. Venezuela is going to change."

Caracas, city of eternal vision, promise

By Jason Swensen

Church News staff writer

CARACAS, Venezuela — Chronicling the story of the Church in Caracas is a little like writing the final chapter on the New World just weeks after Columbus spotted land.

The LDS faith in the Venezuelan capitol seems too young, dynamic and fluid to truly offer its history yet. After all, many of the city's "pioneers" still have color in their hair. Most of the adults at the recent temple dedication in Caracas were first-generation members, people who still swap letters with the elders or sisters who taught them the missionary discussions just a few years ago.

Instead, consider this story a prologue, an introduction to a city still cutting its gospel teeth — but blessed with eternal vision and promise.

The Church's early days in Caracas were as inauspicious as its first official vehicle: a light blue Volkswagen Bug used by the missionaries. In the mid-1960s an American member named Carl Wilcox learned his company was transferring him to Caracas. Brother Wilcox asked about the Church in Venezuela and was told a few expatriate members were holding services in the capital city — and that they would soon be leaving, according to a chronicle of the Church's initial days in Venezuela compiled by Alan K. Manning.

Shortly after arriving, Brother Wilcox and his family attended a non-denominational Christian church. On the visitor register were the names of five families who listed their religious affiliation as "LDS." Thrilled, Brother Wilcox contacted each family. They began holding Church services each Sunday in his home — a beautiful three-story house overlooking Caracas.

Soon there were about 40 people attending weekly, according to Brother Manning. All were reportedly North Americans except for one young Venezuelan woman named Maria who had joined the Church while attending college in Canada.

"Brother Wilcox said the group was, collectively, an unusually active group as far as the Church was concerned," wrote Brother Manning. "Not one person missed a single meeting in the nearly one year they met together."

Eager to share the gospel with their Caracan neighbors, the small band of members contacted Church headquarters and asked that missionaries be sent to Venezuela for the first time. Their request was granted, but first the country was dedicated.

On Nov. 2, 1966, Elder Marion G. Romney, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, dedicated the country for the preaching of the gospel. Perhaps appropriately, his dedicatory prayer was offered in a garden next to a university named after Simon Bolivar, northern South America's revered liberator.

Elder Romney also organized the first branch and called Brother Wilcox to preside. Soon a quartet of missionaries arrived from the Central American Mission ready to spread their message.

"I remember waking that first morning in Venezuela. . . clouds shrouded Mt. Avila and there were ghostly images of palms on the flank of the mountain not far from our window," recalled Elder Fred Podlesney in Brother Manning's narrative. "It was a scene of sublime beauty. And all around us was the city — two million people! I loved Caracas on that first day and that sense of attachment still remains with me."

The small band of elders quickly found their prospective investigators in the prosperous sections of the cosmopolitan city to be different than those they were accustomed to teaching in rural, Central American towns.

"The [Caracans] were not only more resistant to change, they were more difficult to find home," Brother Manning wrote. "If they were home, then it was difficult to get past their maids and other servants who worked in the house. The missionaries did their best under some trying circumstances."

The work was initially tough and baptisms were sparse. Still, many of the first Venezuelan saints today regard the missionaries' unexpected knock on their door as heaven's clarion call.

"I remember being 10 years old and visiting my grandmother when the missionaries knocked for the first time," said Jorge Alberto Ruiz, who now presides over a stake in Caracas. "The missionaries kept coming, we went to Church and the people there treated us like we were old friends."

Hernan and Anna Pea heard their knock in 1968, just months after being married. They were baptized in a portable swimming pool in Caracas at a time when only 17 missionaries were serving in Venezuela.

"After Brother Wilcox left, the branch members rented a school for our meetings, we used the biggest room for sacrament meeting and other classrooms for other meetings," said Brother Pea, who eventually became the branch president. Young Anna was the Primary president.

The Peas traveled to Peru to be sealed. Such sacrifices were both common and legion for many members. Still, the Caracan members and missionaries persevered. Soon branches multiplied and the gospel spread to Venezuelan cities such as Maracaibo, Merida and San Cristobal. By 1977, there were some 4,000 members in Venezuela — including a significant chunk in Caracas. The Caracas Venezuela Stake, the country's first, was organized in May of that year. Today, there are almost 90,000 members in Venezuela.

Perhaps this opening chapter in Caracas' rigorous, rewarding Church history ends with a prophet's visit. President Gordon B. Hinckley joined thousands of Caracans and their fellow Venezuelans last August for the dedication of the Caracas Venezuela Temple. When the prophet drove away from the temple grounds his entourage was saluted by a brigade of members, many who waited hours for his passing.

Each Venezuelan waved a handkerchief — bidding good-bye to their prophet, welcoming their future.


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