Undeterred by a cloudburst, which he described as "evidence of rejoicing in the heavens," Elder Richard G. Scott, fulfilling an assignment of the First Presidency, broke ground June 13 for the first temple in New England.
The New England region is the birthplace of many of the early Church's leaders, including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.Elder Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve broke ground for the Boston Massachusetts Temple in a wooded, hilltop area in this northwest suburb of Boston. Although Elder Scott's remarks were shortened because of the rain that fell during most of the brief ceremony, rays of sunlight broke through just a few moments before he wielded a spade in the ceremonial beginning of construction. About 300 people attended, gathered beneath multicolored umbrellas.
Elder Scott also offered a dedicatory prayer on the temple site. He was accompanied by Elders Marlin K. Jensen, president of the North America Northeast Area, and his counselor W. Don Ladd, and Robert S. Wood, all of the Seventy. Music was provided by a choir of the Cambridge Ward.
The new temple is expected to be completed in a little more than two years and will serve a temple district of some 54,000 members.
Elder Scott was generous with his appreciation and praise for those who helped in the temple project.
"We are so grateful for those who have made this possible, those who worked so long to clear the way for construction. We are especially appreciative of the civic authorities and religious leaders in this community who supported this effort, some of whom are present today."
Elder Scott noted that the Boston temple is being started shortly after the dedication of the Church's 50th operating temple, the St. Louis Missouri Temple, was dedicated earlier this month.
"While we have over 10,000 meetinghouses in the world, temples are unique sanctuaries for sacred ordinances. They witness to the immortality of the soul. We believe that because of ordinances that can be performed in this sacred house, a man and a woman can be united for eternity and sealed to their children, who live worthily, forever. That ending of a religious [marriage] ceremony that is so common in the world today: `until death do you part,' need not be the final outcome of marriage.
"It requires a worthy life to enter the temple and I encourage every member of the Church who is here today to prepare yourself spiritually to participate in a wonderful dedicatory service that we anticipate in just over two years, when President Gordon B. Hinckley and others will come to dedicate this House of the Lord for its intended purpose."
He encouraged members to plan to attend the temple regularly.
"In the last two years, I have found that with just a little bit of organization and prioritization, I have been able to be in the temple an average of every week. It makes a glorious difference in your life."
He said he felt strongly that "we are joined by many beyond the veil. I can't help but feel very strongly that the Prophet Joseph Smith is aware of this, and Brigham Young and John Taylor and others who worked so diligently to lay the foundation of this restored work. And this includes even from earlier times, the prophets of the Book of Mormon, many of whom had special interest in this area. I feel we are joined by multitudes who rejoice beyond the veil."
In his dedicatory prayer, he offered thanks for "this choice ground" and for the skills of those who have already done so much, and for the public officials, citizens and religious groups who have opened their hearts to this activity.
"Above all, we thank thee for the reason for which this temple is being built, made possible because of the atonement of thy holy Son which provides the ordinances to be performed here to join husband and wife and children in family lines forever."
In his remarks, Elder Jensen spoke of the "faith and sturdiness" of the members in New England. He said, "I understand better why our Father in Heaven would have drawn so heavily from this area in the beginning of our Church."
He said that people need an anchor in their lives, and that "Christ becomes that anchor. His teachings and His life give so much purpose and meaning to our own lives when we adopt them as our own. I think that when we come to believe deeply in Christ, that center in our life leads naturally to two other centers, one being the temple, one being our homes.
Elder Jensen quoted Elder J. Ballard Washburn, formerly of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, who said in essence, "We come to our temples to make our covenants but we go home to keep them."
"My hope is that having a temple here among you in New England would anchor us ever so more firmly in Christ and point us to the temple and our lives at home," Elder Jensen said.
He encouraged leaders to "energize the Saints in this New England area toward the temple, toward preparing for it and becoming worthy for it, and making that a primary goal in all of our lives. I think it would be a tremendous leap forward in spirituality if we were to make all roads, which I think historically in this area have led to Boston, now lead to the temple that will be here in Boston."