PALMYRA, N.Y. Standing atop a hill overlooking the Sacred Grove, President Gordon B. Hinckley noted the significance of the site as he and his first counselor, President Thomas S. Monson, participated May 25 in the groundbreaking for the Palmyra New York Temple.
"This is where the First Vision occurred and I think it appropriate that we build a House of the Lord on this ground," President Hinckley said.
The Palmyra temple, announced in February, was the 100th temple to be announced by the Church.
"I regard this temple as perhaps the most significant, in one respect, in the entire Church," President Hinckley said. "It was right here in the Sacred Grove where it all began."
Despite cool weather and scattered showers, more than 500 members from the area attended the site dedication and groundbreaking. "This coat is not mine," remarked President Hinckley at the beginning of his remarks. "Somebody is shivering out there because he offered me his coat."
President Hinckley recalled the experiences of visiting the site in January. "Snow covered the ground," he said. "We put on boots and tramped over this whole area and decided to build it right here. This is the place to build the temple.
"I marvel at what has happened here," President Hinckley continued. "From the First Vision this work has spread over the earth to more than 160 nations with more than 10 million people who are members of this Church. Who could ever have imagined it when that boy [Joseph Smith] walked into the grove, that the consequences of that event would become what we see today."
In his remarks, President Monson spoke of a recent trip to England and quoted a comment from John Ruskin, an English essayist.
" 'Wherefore, when we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think as we lay stone that a time will come when those stones will be held sacred, because our hands have touched them; and men will say, as they look upon the labour and wrought substances of them: See this our fathers did for us.' "
Following their brief comments, President Hinckley dedicated the site, then invited the seven stake presidents and two mission presidents in the area to join with him and President Monson in the ceremonial groundbreaking. Others, including children, were then invited to participate in the groundbreaking.
Among those in the congregation were Bill and Kathy Sherwood who are 20-year residents of the area. They remembered the 10-hour drive to the Washington D.C. Temple, then the three-hour drive to the Toronto Temple following its completion in 1990, and remarked: "This day is wonderful and unbelievable. What a blessing to have a temple only 12 minutes away."
Pres. David Cook of the Rochester New York Palmyra Stake said, "We are thrilled beyond measure. Most of us never dreamed this would be a reality in our day. We are filled with gratitude and look forward to the temple progressing through this coming year."
Conducting the brief ceremony was Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy and first counselor in the North America Northeast Area presidency. An 80-voice Rochester Mormon Choir sang "Redeemer of Israel" and "High on a Mountain Top."