BETA

Thousands gather and savor experience of temple dedication

Thousands of Latter-day Saints gathered from throughout the British Isles and the nations of Europe to savor what, for most, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience: attend the dedication of a temple.

The London Temple, located in the village of Newchapel, near North Lingfield in the county of Surrey, was rededicated in 10 sessions Oct. 18-20, with some 13,200 attending. The Swiss Temple, located in Zollikofen, a suburb of Bern, was rededicated Oct. 23-25, also in 10 sessions, with nearly 9,000 attending.Both temples had been closed 2 1/2 years for extensive remodeling and refurnishing. Rededicatory services were held after special open house events at each temple. (See Oct. 24 Church News for a report on open house events.)

President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency officiated at the dedicatory services. In addition, other General Authorities attended and addressed the dedicatory sessions. (Please see list of General Authority speakers on this page.)

With anticipation seemingly permeating their hearts and souls, and feelings of gratitude and emotions close to the surface, members converged on the London or Swiss temple. Most traveled in hired coaches or chartered buses, with some riding as long as 42 hours. Many others came by plane, train and automobiles. Some came on bicycles and by foot.

No matter which temple's rededication was being held, the scenes at each bore striking similarities. Except for sunshine and pleasant autumn weather on the first day of rededication at the London Temple, rain and cold temperatures provided the physical setting for the remainder of the special days. But the spiritual atmosphere glowed brightly, as if compensating for the overcast skies.

At the London Temple, members who traveled from Scotland and Ireland for up to 14 hours on buses, were caught in a heavy downpour as they stood in line outside while waiting for their turn to go into the temple. A tent erected at the steps in front of the temple's main north-side entrance provided some shelter from the elements, but most members still were soaked. With wet hair and clothes and with water-logged shoes, they stood nearly two hours.

Spontaneously, they began singing. One of the first numbers was "Love One Another," a hymn that fittingly demonstrated the care and concern they had for their fellow saints as they huddled closer to make room for others in the tent. Cold and wet, they sang hymns for nearly an hour that warmed their souls as their bodies shivered. They continued to sing as members from the previous session emerged from the temple, providing those leaving with an impromptu postlude of the hymns of Zion that extended the spirit felt within the temple.

Speaking more than a dozen languages and dialects representative of European nations, members communicated not just through the spoken word but also spirit to spirit. At the Swiss Temple, which serves members from Switzerland as well as from the Mediterranean Area, languages included German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and English. And reflecting the growing presence of the Church in eastern Europe, the languages of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Croatia and Slovenia also were spoken.

Love seemed to be the byword. National boundaries, ethnic distinctions and political differences melted with the mingling of the saints. Perhaps the most visible demonstration was a bus in front of the Swiss Temple that brought 42 Croatian and seven Slovenian members from their war-torn former nation of Yugoslavia. They came as brothers and sisters in the gospel of Jesus Christ to sit side by side in His holy house.

At both temples, those members who live the farthest away were assigned to attend on the last day of the rededications. That arrangement enabled them to combine two purposes into one trip: attend the rededication and remain in the area to go to the temple when it opened early the next morning. (Both temples opened the morning after the last day of rededicatory events. Temple workers and volunteers worked through the night to clean carpets, replace furniture and prepare the temple for opening.)

Some arranged to stay as long as two weeks to attend four or five sessions each day the temple is open. While each temple has housing for limited numbers of temple patrons, not all could be accommodated. Members from Portugal stayed near the Swiss Temple in World War II bomb bunkers that offered stark living conditions. The concrete underground shelters provided cots, heat, lights and plumbing facilities. Members brought their own bedding and food.

Music for the rededicatory sessions was provided by choirs from stakes in the temple districts. While opening and other musical numbers varied, all choirs sang the same closing number. That consisted of a combination of the "Hosanna Anthem," written for the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893 - in which one phrase is the joyful proclamation: "The House of the Lord is completed" - and "The Spirit of God," which was sung at the Kirtland Temple dedication in 1836. In each session, the congregation joined in singing two verses of "The Spirit of God." The effect was spiritually electrifying and many members became too choked with emotion to continue singing.

At the conclusion of each session, many left the temple with joyful tears in their eyes, and the inspiring words of President Hinckley or President Monson, or one of the other Brethren, still fresh in their minds. In effect the messages proclaimed: "This time of rededication of this temple represents not only a rededication of a building but also a tremendous opportunity for us to rededicate our lives to the work of the Lord who has blessed us so richly."


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General Authority speakers

LONDON TEMPLE

President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency

President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency

President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Seventy and president of the Europe North Area

Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy and first counselor in the Europe North Area presidency

Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy and second counselor in the Europe North Area presidency

SWISS TEMPLE

President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency

President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Coun cil of the Twelve

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve

Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Sev enty and president of the Eu rope Area

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy and first counselor in the Europe Area presidency

Elder Robert K. Dellenbach of the Seventy and second coun selor in the Europe Area presidency

Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Seventy and president of the Europe/Mediterranean Area

Elder LeGrand R. Curtis of the Seventy and first counselor in the Europe/Mediterranean Area presidency

Elder Joseph C. Muren of the Seventy and second counselor in the Europe/Mediterranean Area presidency

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