A remarkable decade of temple building will culminate in December with the dedication of the Las Vegas Nevada Temple.
The First Presidency announced this week that the temple, which will be the Church's 43rd in operation, will be dedicated in 11 sessions Dec. 16-18. The dedication will be preceded by a public open house Nov. 16-Dec. 9.Private tours for specially invited guests will be held Nov. 13-15. During the open house, the temple will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., except on Mondays, when it will close at 6 p.m. The temple will be open Thanksgiving Day, but closed on Sundays.
At the beginning of the decade - the Church's Sesquicentennial - there were 17 temples in six nations; by the end of the decade, there will be 43 temples in 23 lands. During the 1980s, 26 temples were announced and 26 temples, including those announced previously, were dedicated. That is more than one and a half times as many as in all the previous 150 years. (See box on Page 4.)
With white cast stone towers and a copper roof, the Las Vegas Nevada Temple is nestled against the mountains on the far east side of the city. The edifice is at the foot of Sunrise Mountain on the outskirts of a residential area and faces the easterly mountains. Visible from most of Las Vegas Valley, the temple has become a landmark even before its completion.
Both members and non-members are eagerly watching the progress of the temple, said James K. Seastrand, vice chairman of the temple committee.
"The Lord has not overlooked our valley. There are many great LDS people here as well as many God-loving people who live apart from the lifestyle that many tourists engage in when they come here for entertainment," he commented. "They accept the temple here as a strong religious testimony of God."
The presence of the temple sends a message to the people of Las Vegas that the "Church of Jesus Christ is vibrant and alive, and is making a statement for good."
Seastrand once observed to city engineers and inspectors who were visiting the temple that the statue of the Angel Moroni, facing away from the city, "is facing eastward to announce the second coming of our Lord, and perhaps to announce the temple eastward to the world."
"My personal non-member friends have asked me to be sure to invite them to the open house," he continued. "That seems to be the most common reaction among non-members."
Visitors to the well-known gaming city are looking at "the magnificent white temple with its spires reaching into the air, and they are also attracted to it," he added.
The temple will be open on Thanksgiving Day to accommodate the many visitors and because "the completion of the temple has been a thanksgiving festival for the members of the Church in the Las Vegas temple district."
The temple committee expects 200,000 visitors during the open house. Visitors will enter a closed pavilion adjacent to the temple, see exhibits on temples, and be introduced to the purpose of temples. They will be able to choose from a menu of information about the Church as they await the tour, preparing them spiritually to enter the House of the lord, he said.
The building encloses about 60,000 square feet and the tallest of its six towers reaches 125 feet high, topped by a ten-foot, gold-leafed statue of the Angel Moroni. Within the temple's basement, main and second stories are a baptistry on the backs of twelve sculptured oxen, four ordinance rooms, six sealing rooms, a chapel, offices, cafeteria, laundry and a children's waiting area. Off-street parking will accommodate about 300 vehicles. The temple was designed by the Church architectural staff, with Tate & Snyder as the local architects. The firm of Hogan & Tingey of Centerville, Utah, is the building contractor.
The Las Vegas Nevada Temple District includes about 54,000 members in 14 stakes in southern Nevada, and the Blythe California and Kingman Arizona stakes.
The temple was announced on April 7, 1984, by President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency, who announced four other temples at the same time.
One of the four, the Portland Oregon Temple was dedicated Aug. 19-21. (See Church News, Aug. 26.) Two others are under construction - one near Toronto, Ontario in Canada, and another in San Diego, Calif. The fourth, for Bogota, Colombia, is awaiting groundbreaking.
A temple has been announced for Guayaquil, Ecuador, and a site has been acquired for a temple in Bountiful, Utah, but no temple has been announced for that property.
In announcing the first of the multiple temples on April 2, 1980, the first Presidency stated, "It is our intention to provide temples as close as practicable to where the members reside.
"The temples will be of a quality that will be pleasing to all, and at a cost that will not be burdensome for members to bear. The character and beauty of the new temples will be in keeping with their sacred purpose."
Throughout the world, the temples of the 1980s stand as a fulfillment to that pledge. And the Las Vegas temple promises to be an appropriate capstone of the decade.