The morning of Oct. 10 broke rainy and cloudy, but by the time some 1,000 witnessed the groundbreaking for the Spokane Washington Temple, the sun was shining.
Presiding over and speaking at the groundbreaking services was Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy and president of the North America Northwest Area. Elder Hammond also turned the first ceremonial shovelful of dirt, along with Elder Lowell Barber, Area Authority Seventy; presidents of stakes in the temple district, and Heber B. Kapp, former Canada Vancouver Mission president, and his wife, Ardeth G. Kapp, former Young Women general president.Also attending the groundbreaking service, held in the Spokane Washington East Stake center, adjacent to the temple site, were Spokane Mayor John Talbott and his wife, Claudia; and County Commissioner Phil Harris and County Prosecutor Jim Sweetser. The officials were invited to turn over a shovelful of dirt, along with members attending the service.
"All is ready!" Elder Hammond declared to those attending during his address prior to the groundbreaking. Speaking of the preparations for the actual construction, he added: "Workers are poised, waiting to start their labors. The physical preparation is nearly completed for the building.
"Now we come to the spiritual readiness of those who will come to this holy place," Elder Hammond explained. "If thoughtful preparation is not started in your own personal life, then I suggest to you that now is the time to begin such preparation."
He then offered a few suggestions:
- The first place to start is with the heart. "Every heart in some personal way needs healing, needs changing. A healthy, spiritual heart is a result of pure thoughts and charitable actions. A healthy heart is one that is turned with love to the Savior. A healthy heart is moved to tenderness by the plea of the sick, the lonely, the distressed. Now is the time to let the love of Christ `change our hearts.' "
- Second - "In my opinion our minds must also experience a change. We are in a position to stretch our learning, increase our understanding and prepare to comprehend the significance of the temple and the ordinances and covenants found in this holy place. We can ponder the truths of the gospel and pray for the witness of their truthfulness. In all of this, faith and testimony will increase and we will be able to go to the temple with greater knowledge of God and His Eternal Son, Jesus Christ and our relationship to them."
- Third - Love is an essential attribute that can be developed in every living soul. "The Savior referred to it as charity. It refers to our relationship with all of God's children - our spouse, our children, our neighbors, even those who seemingly hate us. Truly, this is a time to cultivate and demonstrate charity.
"Contemplating the building of this temple we can foster a greater degree of love in our homes. Our homes can become sanctuaries of kindness, gratitude, gentleness and love - training grounds for what lies ahead in the temple. We can actually create Zion homes, where the pure in heart dwell - not easily, but possible, yes!"
- Fourth - "Somewhere in each of these there must be a place for submitting ourselves to the mind and will of the Father and the Son." The principle of obedience and the law of sacrifice are at the cutting edge of temple worthiness. These beautiful laws are not lived by word alone."
Elder Hammond promised those listening: "Everyone in this city will be blessed by the establishment of this glorious edifice, member and non-member alike. It will proclaim to the whole world Holiness to the Lord."
Others offering remarks during the service were Elder Barber, Pres. Donald Condon of the Spokane Washington North Stake, Pres. Glenn Whittle of the Colville Washington Stake and Pres. Steven Holdaway of the Spokane Washington East Stake.
Providing music was a combined choir from the four Spokane stakes. A poignant moment was the choir opening the services with "On This Day of Joy and Gladness."
Pres. Holdaway, whose stake coordinated the groundbreaking ceremony, described during a Church News telephone interview the beauty of the day: "We had the groundbreaking in the sunshine. By the time the groundbreaking was over, it clouded up again. So
the sunshineT was just for the period of time of the groundbreaking."
Speaking of the joy of having a temple in the area, he added: "The members, of course, are delighted we'll have this. I don't think anyone thought we'd have a temple this soon, but they are very appreciative and thankful for it."
The new temple will serve 32,000 members in 91 wards and branches in the Spokane Washington, Spokane Washington North, Spokane Washington East and Spokane Washington West stakes; in the Colville Washington and Pullman Washington stakes; and the Coeur d'Alene Idaho, Sandpoint Idaho and Lewiston Idaho stakes.