Announced: Sept. 11, 1998.
Location: Corner of Trotter Road and Caughman Road in Hopkins, SC 29061-9573; phone: (803) 647-9472; no clothing rental.
Site: 3.6 acres.
Exterior finish: Imperial Danby Vermont marble.
Temple design: Traditional.
Architects: Mike Watson of Watson-Tate Architects Inc.
Project manager: Bruce Catanzaro.
Contractor: Walbridge Aldinger.
Rooms: Celestial room, two ordinance rooms, two sealing rooms and baptistry.
Total floor area: 10,700 square feet.
Dimensions: 149 feet by 77 feet.
District: 11 stakes in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
Groundbreaking, site dedication: Dec. 5, 1998, by Elder Gordon T. Watts of the Seventy and first counselor in the North America Southeast Area presidency.
Dedication: Oct. 16-17, 1999, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; 6 sessions.
Done by President Gordon B. Hinckley
O God our Eternal Father, we come unto Thee with reverence and love. We acknowledge Thee as the Governor of the Universe, the Great Elohim, and our Father to whom we may come in prayer.
We are met together on this day of dedication in this sacred house which has been built to accommodate Thy glorious and eternal work.
We thank Thee for the Prophet Joseph Smith through whom Thou hast revealed Thy plan of salvation for the blessing of Thy sons and daughters of all generations. We thank Thee for the keys of the everlasting priesthood, the very fullness of the priesthood, revealed in this dispensation, which will be exercised in this holy house.
Acting in the name of Thy Beloved Son, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the authority of the holy priesthood in us vested, we dedicate this the Columbia South Carolina Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Thee and to Thy Beloved Son as Thy house. We pray that Thou wilt accept of it as our offering gladly given for the accomplishment of Thy divine work. Let Thy Holy Spirit dwell here at all times and in all circumstances, to be felt by all who come within these sacred precincts.
We dedicate the grounds on which it stands with their vegetation representing the beauties of nature. We dedicate the structure from the footings to the tower on which stands the figure of Moroni. We dedicate all of the internal features—the baptistry, the facilities for the initiatory ordinances, the endowment rooms, the beautiful celestial room, and the sealing rooms with their sacred altars. We dedicate the offices and all other areas of the temple.
We pray that from this day forward Thy watchcare shall be over this sacred edifice. Wilt Thou preserve it from the storms of nature. Wilt Thou move in Thy power against any destructive forces, either of nature or on the part of those who would deface or mar this building in any way. We pray that all who cross the threshold of this structure will be worthy to do so, that they will be Latter-day Saints in very deed, living the gospel, and fully qualified to come here to serve in Thy work.
Many have yearned for this day when a temple would be built in their midst. May they now use it for the purposes for which it has been constructed.
We rejoice in the presence of this house in this great state of South Carolina which has hosted Thy messengers of eternal truth. They have been coming here for generations, and there has been established a great body of faithful Latter-day Saints. We pray that the very presence of this Thy house will have a sanctifying influence upon the people of this area, and particularly upon those who enter its portals.
We pray for the temple presidency that they shall not weary in the great and sacred work in which they will be engaged. We pray for the matron and her assistants that they likewise may be buoyed up and strengthened for the tasks that are theirs. We pray for all who labor here, including those who come as patrons that they may serve with an eye single to Thy glory and that their experiences may bring joy into their hearts.
Dear Father, we pray for Thy work in all the earth. We thank Thee for the faithful Saints wherever they may be whose tithes have made possible the construction of this temple. Shower down blessings upon them. Bless them with the good things of heaven and earth, with security and peace and love in their homes, with vitality and strength to do their work, and with great joy in their service in Thy Church and Kingdom, whatever that service might be.
We ask Thy blessings upon those who have been called to positions of leadership in Thy Kingdom that Thou wilt grant them health and strength and length of life to accomplish the work which lies before them.
Dear Father, we are so deeply grateful unto Thee for every gift Thou hast bestowed upon us. May we walk worthily before Thee at all times and in all circumstances. May Thy work grow and prosper exceedingly in this part of the earth. May faith increase in the hearts of the people. We ask it humbly, together with every other blessing that Thou seest fit to bestow upon us, and do it all as Thy sons and daughters, recognizing Thee as Our Father, in the name of Thy Divine Son, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
Cover Story: New temple in a 'place of history'
By R. Scott Lloyd
COLUMBIA, S.C. — One of the original 13 colonies and rich in American history and heritage, this state is now the location of the newest House of the Lord.
President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Columbia South Carolina Temple Oct. 16-17, with four sessions on Saturday and two on Sunday. Speaking at the sessions in addition to President Hinckley were Elders Dallin H. Oaks and M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Monte J. Brough of the Seventy who is president of the North America Southeast Area of the Church.
The capital of South Carolina, Columbia is located in the center of the state. The temple is situated in a densely wooded neighborhood of southeastern Columbia interspersed with immaculate homes and churches. The new temple serves some 40,000 Latter-day Saints including about 30,000 in South Carolina and the rest in portions of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
One of the new generation of smaller temples, it is constructed of imperial marble from Danby, Vt., about an hour's drive from Sharon, birthplace of the prophet Joseph Smith, according to project supervisor Bruce Catanzaro. Surrounded by loblolly pine (a native species) and oak, it is adjacent to a parcel of property owned by the Church and expected to be cleared and used for a meetinghouse in the future. The grounds are planted in crape myrtle (a summer-blooming shrub), large holly, mums, dogwood trees, maple and oak, in an effort to reflect the natural beauty of the setting, said Tom Anderson, landscape contractor and a member of the Dutch Fork Ward in the Columbia stake.
Hurricane Irene, which was assaulting the Florida coast, had threatened to dampen the proceedings. Early forecasts called for rain both days of the dedication. As it turned out, clear and sunny weather prevailed on Saturday. Warm showers during the sessions on Sunday morning let up in time to allow President Hinckley and the other General Authorities to depart safely by early afternoon, immediately after the last session.
"We're happy to be dedicating this temple in Columbia, S.C.," President Hinckley said in a brief interview between sessions. "This is a place of history. South Carolina figured prominently in the birth of this nation."
President Hinckley said South Carolina today is a solid and substantial part of the United States.
"The gospel was first preached here 160 years ago," he noted, "when a missionary came down here [from the North] in 1839 and baptized one man. In the generations that have followed, hundreds and thousands of people have joined the Church. We have placed a temple here in Columbia because it's the capital of the state and somewhat in the center of the state. There will be other temples built in the South. We are constructing a temple in Birmingham and another in Memphis, which will add to the number which will serve the faithful Saints in this great area of the country.
"We are happy to have Pres. [David V.] Yarn as president of this temple. His grandmother was an early convert to the Church and was so very faithful and active, and her posterity have been prominent in the affairs of the Church in this part of the land."
The missionary to which President Hinckley referred was Lysander M. Davis. Upon his arrival in South Carolina just nine years after the Church was organized in this dispensation, he was surprised to find several people already prepared for baptism. They had been influenced by a new Church member in the area, Emmanuel Masters Murphy, who had previous contact with Joseph Smith. Reportedly, the Prophet had told him to warn the people of the state of impending destruction in accordance with the revelation and prophecy on war recorded today as Section 87 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Membership in the Church grew despite some opposition and persecution. By 1861, the prophecy on war had come to pass. That and the westward trek of faithful Church members slowed the growth in South Carolina.
But missionary activity resumed in 1875 with the organization of the Southern States Mission. Columbia received its first missionaries in 1894, and a Sunday School was organized here in 1898, with a full branch following in 1917.
Longtime Church members in the temple district look back with gratitude on the growth of the Church here. In Aiken, S.C., near the border city of Augusta, Ga., Mary Ann Lynes fondly recalls her girlhood when missionaries were almost a constant presence in the family home.
She remembers "growing up under quilts" attached to frames as Relief Society sisters in her home worked on the projects to aid the needy.
Over the years, members say, they have seen their proximity to a temple gradually shrink, first with the construction of the Washington D.C. Temple in 1976, followed by completion of the Atlanta Temple in 1983. Now, with the temple in Columbia no more than an hour or two away from most areas in the district, they feel especially blessed. And some faithful members who had been serving as workers in the Atlanta temple are now pleased to transfer their service to a temple closer to home.
Even those whose LDS roots do not extend back for generations feel the gratitude.
Pres. Randy L. Sigg of the Charlotte North Carolina Stake and his wife, Kathleen, met as students at Penn State University in the 1960s. They were influenced by the example of friends who joined the Church at the time, but were not prepared to receive the gospel.
"A year later, living in Charlotte, married to the girl I loved, with a baby in my arms, I was completely changed," Pres. Sigg related. "And when the missionaries said, 'Brother Sigg, families are forever,' that was what I wanted. That was the hook that got me, and I wanted to know more."
Regarding the temple dedication session they attended, Sister Sigg said: "I will never for the rest of my life forget the feeling in the Celestial Room. I will never ever forget that feeling that confirms everything I've been taught since I joined the Church. There is no doubt!"
It is such knowledge that has sustained Mark and Judy Wilcox, members of the Hendersonville Ward, Asheville North Carolina Stake. They found out the morning they were to attend their scheduled dedication session, at which Sister Wilcox was to sing in the choir, that their son, Brad, had perished the previous evening in a car accident. After they received priesthood blessings, she elected to go ahead and sing.
"The choir only had 18 members; I felt that I was needed," she told the Church News three days later. "I'd been planning to sing praises to the Lord. I had come to the temple to do that. The fact that I had something tragic to come home to did not change the fact that I wanted to sing praises."
Brother Wilcox said there never was a question in their minds that Sister Wilcox would go ahead. "One of the things that came very quickly to mind," he said, "was a comment from Brigham Young . . . that both of us had pondered upon and talked about quite a bit in home evening and other times. It was to the effect that . . . our responsibility is to do the things that the Lord has asked us to do. If something happens that seems traumatic, it's all in the Lord's hands. He knows what's happening. Look around and see what the blessings are from it. Keep going."
Both of the Wilcoxes said they drew comfort from President Hinckley, who paused for a few moments in his dedication talk and addressed a few words to them about the Plan of Salvation and some of the things that are learned in the temple.
"We fully know that President Hinckley is a prophet; there is no question in our minds about that," Brother Wilcox said. "But I wonder if he understands what an incredible blessing it was to us as a family to have him address comments to us."
Temple moments: Four generations
The first missionaries came to South Carolina as early as 1839-40, but most of their early converts emigrated west to gather with the saints. Missionary work in the South then lagged during the difficult decades that followed. In the 1880s, however, when missionary work resumed, additional families were converted and many of their children, grandchildren and later generations have remained faithful and established branches that are now wards and stakes.
In the latter half of the 19th century, a stonemason from Vermont, Frances Orlando Somes, came to the South and eventually settled in Barnwell County, where he changed his name to Black. His son, William Burley Black, and wife, Mary Elizabeth Joiner Black, joined the Church. Their descendants have remained faithful in the Church.
A grandson is Clyde E. Black of the Windsor Lake Ward, Columbia South Carolina Stake, a sealer in the Columbia South Carolina Temple. One of Brother Black's sons is Elder C. Elmer Black of Clinton, Miss., an Area Seventy.
On a recent evening, Clyde E. Black was performing sealings in the Columbia South Carolina Temple. Another of his sons, Talbert J. Black, was filling an assignment as an ordinance worker. At the same time, Talbert Black's son, Talbert J. Black II, came to the temple as a priesthood leader bringing a youth group to perform baptisms for the dead. In the youth group was his son, Talbert J. Black III. On that evening, temple work was spread across four generations of the Black family in the Columbia South Carolina Temple.
So routine is such faithfulness in the family that "I didn't even think about it until after the fact," said the senior Black. Since then, remembering that evening "is a special feeling," he said. — Robert D. Collier