NASHVILLE, Tenn. Heavy rains and cold temperatures didn't dampen the spirits of approximately 1,500 members from central Tennessee and southern Kentucky who turned out March 13 to join the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Nashville Tennessee Temple.
"It's the faith, righteousness and prayers of the people in this area that brought the temple here," said Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy and president of the North America East Area.
The temple, announced 4 1/2 years ago, will be built on property adjacent to the Franklin Tennessee Stake Center, about 20 miles south of Nashville. Local government officials joined Elder Carmack and five stake presidents from the area in the ceremonies.
Drenching rains complicated the groundbreaking ceremonies by requiring officials to hold an umbrella in one hand, while struggling to turn the muddy soil in the other.
Speakers at the groundbreaking services, which drew members from the Nashville, Franklin and McMinnville stakes in Tennessee and from Hopkinsville and Paducah stakes in Kentucky, included Elder Carmack, Pres. Byron L. Smith of the Franklin Tennessee Stake and Pres. Billy J. Eaves of the Nashville Tennessee Stake.
In his comments prior to the site dedicatory prayer, Elder Carmack drew an analogy between the challenges of securing a site for the temple and Jacob in the Old Testament who worked and waited more than seven years to marry Rachel.
Elder Carmack quoted D&C 124:36 and noted that temples as "appointed for refuge" by the Lord were prophesied to be associated with stakes.
He also recounted several highlights in Church history to demonstrate that the construction of the temple in Nashville is one of many events illustrating the hand of the Lord in the affairs of the Church in the area.
Elder Carmack related a missionary experience of Wilford Woodruff who came to the area a little later. He described how Elder Woodruff entered a tavern one day and asked the owner for food and lodging after being mud splattered on a rainy day.
The owner offered food and lodging if Elder Woodruff would preach to some of his friends. Elder Woodruff agreed. That evening he was greeted by several hundred men who had assembled with the intent to embarrass the Mormon.
Elder Carmark said that Elder Woodruff began by asking them to sing with him, but they refused. He then asked them to join in prayer, but again they refused. He then silently pled with the Lord to understand what to do. The Lord blessed him to know all the sins of those assembled. As he proceeded to tell the crowd what he knew, they began to leave, one by one.
Since the first mission was organized in Nashville in 1875, the Church has grown to about 30,000 members in the area.
Pres. Smith recounted the struggles of faith required to build a temple in Nashville, while Pres. Eaves urged the members to gain the spirit of temple worship and not merely of temple attendance.