More than 6,500 Church members gathered on a 10-acre site here June 20 to participate in the groundbreaking of New Mexico's first temple.
Located on the northeast edge of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque New Mexico Temple will serve the 55,000 Latter-day Saints in 15 stakes in New Mexico and parts of Arizona and Colorado.The site is situated in the heart of the residential neighborhood of North Albuquerque Acres. From the future temple grounds, visitors will be able to see a panoramic view of the metro Albuquerque area - including the Rio Grande Valley and the Sandia Mountains.
Elder Lynn A. Mickelsen of the Seventy and president of the North America Southwest Area presided at the 9 a.m. service and dedicated the site of the future temple. He was accompanied by his counselors, Elder Angel Abrea and Elder D. Todd Christofferson, both of the Seventy.
Invitations for the ceremony were extended to all Church members living in the temple district, city and county leaders, residents living near the future temple, clergy from nearby churches and the media. People, gathered on the site, used umbrellas to shield themselves from the hot morning sun, typical of the "Land of Enchantment."
A choir of 600 youth, directed by Sherita Mott of the Corrales Ward, Albuquerque New Mexico Stake, sang, "Holy Temples on Mount Zion," and "High on the Mountain Top." The young singers came from units throughout the temple district.
Plans for the temple - which is expected to be completed in the year 2000 - were announced in April 1997 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Church leaders thanked the faithful members in the area and recognized the support of local city and county officials, administrators and staff, friends and neighbors, and local media.
"It is our responsibility as members of the Church to live our lives in such a way that the trust they have deposited in us will not be unwarranted," said Elder Mickelsen.
He commended the many members who had traveled long distances to witness the groundbreaking event. "It is during these special moments that we can feel and see the hand of the Lord moving in the work," he said. "It manifests a pattern of faith for your children, and they will make the same commitments to consecrate their lives to that which is good, honorable, and right."
Elder Mickelsen added that he was grateful to see so many families at the gathering. "Temples are about families and it is important the children be here to feel the spiritual impact of the proceedings today."
Reflecting back to when he was 12 years old and living in Idaho, Elder Mickelsen recalled attending a banquet and shaking hands with President George Albert Smith. He said he doesn't remember what was said that day or what he ate, but he does remember the feeling he experienced. Since that day, he has looked for experiences that will help him recall the same special feeling.
Elder Mickelsen told the gathering: "You might not remember everything that was said this warm and glorious morning, but you will remember the feeling. What you feel today will help you in your search for happiness throughout your lives."
He then offered a prayer dedicating the site, blessing it to "be a sanctuary of peace for those who visit" and "a place a refuge from the cacophony of the world."
After the prayer, gold-painted shovels were then taken to the dry dirt as Elder Mickelsen, Elder Abrea and Elder Christofferson broke ground. Following the area presidency, project engineer Chuck Easterling, project architect Bill Fanning, stake presidents, mission presidents and city and county officials took turns participating in the groundbreaking ceremony. All in attendance were also given a chance to break ground and take pictures of this historic and significant event.
During the hour-long ceremony, Elder Abrea asked those listening to ponder the question, "What am I doing with my days?" He encouraged members to remit themselves from sin and become holy, so they could come to the temple with "clean hands and a pure heart."
Elder Christofferson, who conducted the ceremony, spoke of the pioneers "who were sent by Brigham Young in the late 19th century to establish the colonies
in MexicoT and who traveled through the Rio Grande Valley
in New MexicoT," saying they would be pleased to look upon the gathering.
"They would be proud of this legacy," he noted.
Elder Christofferson added that the "past and the present come together" at the new temple.
"The temple is a place where people can step outside the worldliness and refresh, regroup, and reorient themselves as to what really matters. It is a place to gain strength and gain fresh perspectives. The temple is the House of God. It is a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning and order."
Lyle K. Porter, former regional representative and former president of the Albuquerque New Mexico East Stake, and Stanley Hatch, president of the Albuquerque New Mexico Stake, offered the invocation and the benediction, respectively.
The groundbreaking ceremony was organized by a committee under the direction of H. Vern Payne, a former mission president, regional representative and stake president.