LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Expressing "deep gratitude that Thy Holy House has been completed and the glorious day of dedication has arrived," President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the Vancouver British Columbia Temple on May 2.
He presided over all three of the sessions held to dedicate the temple, which is located some 30 miles east of Vancouver. In each session, he also addressed the congregation and offered the dedicatory prayer, which he wrote. It is the seventh temple in operation in Canada and the Church's 131st temple worldwide.
Attending the dedication and participating with President Monson were President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency; Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy, who is executive director of the Temple Department. President Monson's daughter, Sister Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, accompanied him. Accompanying the other Brethren were Sisters Harriet R. Uchtdorf, Katherine J. Christofferson, Kathy K. Clayton and Vicki V. Walker.
President Monson noted that the new temple holds a special place his heart. "I helped pick the site," he told the Church News upon arriving at the temple Saturday afternoon, May 1, for a preview visit. "Now we see a lovely temple here. It couldn't have been created for a more noble purpose."
He said that in December of 1995, he came to the Vancouver area with President Gordon B. Hinckley, to whom he was then serving as first counselor in the First Presidency, to select the site for the temple.
"We came with a prayer in our hearts," President Monson said. "You look, first of all, at what the Lord has given: the terrain, the grasses, the trees, the setting. Then you figure if the Lord can do all that, the best you can do is build a temple to grace the land He has pointed out. The best we can do is to build a temple."
Several times during the weekend of the dedication, President Monson spoke of his "underlying love for Canada." He served, with Sister Frances Johnson Monson at his side, from 1959-62 as president of the Canadian Mission, which had headquarters in Toronto, Ontario. President and Sister Monson's two older children, Tom and Ann, attended Canadian schools, and their youngest child, Clark, was born in Canada.
"We carry Canada in our hearts," President Monson said.
He wore his affection for Canada: Upon arriving in the Langley Events Centre on Saturday evening, he pointed to the lapel of his suit coat, which featured a pin of the Canadian flag with a light that blinked on and off. Some 1,200 young people who were to perform in that evening's cultural celebration cheered and applauded.
Applause and cheers rose again when President Monson requested that the opening song for the member meeting prior to the cultural program be changed to the Canadian national anthem.
"The cultural program was truly one of the finest I've ever seen," he said Sunday afternoon as he was preparing to leave the temple grounds. "They honored the pioneers of the Church in Canada, which made me happy. They honored their family members who are progenitors, and they had a great time. I like big events that give young people something they'll remember all their lives."
After Saturday evening’s festivities (please "Vancouver youth celebration: One member, one family, one branch, one testimony at a time"), the formal dedication of the temple began Sunday morning as, during the first dedicatory session, a symbolic cornerstone was sealed to mark the temple’s completion.
During his busy schedule, President Monson seemed unhurried as he greeted members. He shook hands with many and paused several times to tell Primary children and teens, "This is your temple," and encouraged them to come to the temple to perform baptismal ordinances for their ancestors and to be married.
It was raining Sunday morning, however, the rain stopped shortly before the cornerstone ceremony was held. Rains came again before the third session began and, after it concluded, President Monson left the temple in a downpour. Still, he called the day of dedication "a beautiful day."
Those standing in the rain to wave their goodbyes to him seemed to agree that it, indeed, was a beautiful day.