In the heart of "Treasure Valley," President Thomas S. Monson rededicated on Nov. 18 the Boise Idaho Temple — a structure local Latter-day Saints here consider to be the crown jewel of their city.
The temple, originally dedicated in 1984, closed 15 months ago for extensive renovation.
The temple "shines as a beacon of righteousness to all who will follow its light," said President Monson the evening before the rededication. "We treasure that light, and we thank our Heavenly Father for the blessings this temple and all temples bring into our lives."
President Monson was accompanied to the rededication events by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the temple department. Susan Bednar, Debora Christensen and Vicki Walker were also in attendance.
Located off of Interstate 84 on Cole Road, the Boise Idaho Temple is the 27th operating temple of the Church's 140 temples worldwide. It is one of four temples in Idaho, with others in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls and Rexburg. A fifth temple in Meridian, located just 12 miles from the Boise temple, is in the planning and approval phase.
Elder Bednar said the 35,868-square-foot temple stands in an area where the Church is "strong and growing stronger."
"For us this is a homecoming," said Elder Bednar, explaining that his family lived in Idaho for almost eight years. "We love the people. We have fond memories of time spent in Boise."
To be in the house of the Lord with the faithful Church members from the area "is a rich experience," he said between the first and second of three dedicatory sessions.
"There is a warmth, light, brightness and radiance that come from a temple anywhere in the world," he said.
The Boise Idaho Temple serves approximately 100,000 Latter-day Saints from 31 stakes in Treasure Valley and an area extending from LeGrand, Ore., to Glenn's Ferry, Idaho.
Steven Mortensen served as a Regional Representative for the Church in 1984 and coordinated much of the original dedication of the temple.
Speaking with the Church News of the process of finding a site for the temple near the Interstate so it could be easily accessible, he recalled attending all but one or two of the original 24 dedicatory sessions.
During those sessions, President Gordon B. Hinckley promised Latter-day Saints in Boise that the temple would become "the most significant structure in the valley."
"Time has proved that statement," Brother Mortensen said. "I love the temple. The temple is the crown jewel."
Church members in the valley have always treasured the temple, he said.
Missionary work began in Boise in 1897 and a branch was formed in 1903. The first stake came 10 years later, in 1913. Some 25 years later, prominent local businessmen met with President Heber J. Grant and asked him to build a temple in Idaho's capital city. President Grant told the group of businessmen that when membership increased in the Boise area, the Church would build a temple.
That prophecy came to pass 46 years later, on May 24, 1984, when President Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Boise Idaho Temple. Much of the growth in the area came as Church members moved to Boise to work in the computer tech field and at Boise State University.
Brother Mortensen said after the temple was first announced he wondered if Church members in the valley were ready for such an important responsibility. "I think the Saints in this temple district have allayed my fears we might not be able to accept this responsibility," he said. "The response in terms of serving was remarkable."
In fact, just two and a half years after the original dedication, the temple was renovated and expanded because of the high level of use.
"The temple has been an important part of the lives of the people of this valley," Brother Mortensen said. "I think the temple has, in fact, become what President Hinckley said it would become — the most significant structure in this valley."
Wenden and Laura Waite were serving as temple president and matron when the temple closed. In fact, that day — July 11, 2011 — was Brother Waite's 20th anniversary of continuous service in the temple.
The remodeled temple's interior includes blue, green and earth tones and prominently features Idaho's state flower — the syringa. The original exterior stone was replaced with white granite. And art glass windows now appear throughout the building, including crushed glass from the original temple's windows. "We love what they have done to the temple. It is beautiful," he said. "But it sure is nice to get back in it."
He said the temple district — where many members make a living farming — is filled with members of great faith. "Those who earn their livelihood from the ground, have to rely on faith," he said. "They rely on the Lord for rain. They rely on the Lord for sunshine."
Elder K. Brett Nattress, an Area Seventy and chairman of the local temple committee, said it is a great blessing to have the temple open again.
"You can feel it," he said. "There is a sense of excitement, a great sense of anticipation and a deep sense of gratitude of our members to have this temple."
Elder Nattress, who has lived in Boise since 1990, called the area wonderful. "The Saints are remarkable, faithful and humble."
He said local Latter-day Saints have volunteered literally thousands of hours for the open house — attended by almost 170,000 people; the cultural celebration — which included 9,200 participants; and the dedication.
"I have been so impressed with the faithfulness of our members and their willingness to serve," he said.
Ultimately, everything that was done during the open house and dedication is about the temple, he said. "For me that's what this is all about — the House of the Lord."