Open house visitor: 'What does this mean to me?'

EDMONTON, Alberta — It seems that most people here, in Canada's northern-most major city, are talking about the Church's 67th operating temple, after a successful public open house Dec. 3-4 and 6-7.

Whether it be the customs agent who asked a visitor from Salt Lake City if she had seen the temple.

Or the bank teller who thought the sacred edifice would look nice on a postcard.

Or the older gentleman who attended the temple's public open house after his wife's death and had just one question: "What does this mean to me?"

An estimated 27,213 people toured the new Edmonton Alberta Temple prior to its Dec. 11-12 dedication by President Gordon B. Hinckley (please see report on page 3), including Edmonton Mayor Bill Smith, Alberta Justice Minister Dave Hancock and Alberta Speaker of the House Ken Kowalski. Thousands more learned about the sacred edifice from one of many television and newspaper reports.

Located on 53rd Avenue, just off the adjacent Whitemud freeway, the temple stands prominently next to the Riverbend Alberta Stake Center. Thousands of residents in and around Edmonton, who drive by the structure daily, had followed the construction process and were eager to look inside.

Members of the temple committee sent 500 invitations to residents of the neighborhoods around the temple. Just under 800 from the immediate area attended the open house — some had heard about the event by word of mouth, others saw people touring the building and stopped by.

More than 270 contractors who had worked on various stages of construction on the temple also returned with their families during the open house to see the finished product.

One contractor sat in the temple and stared at a door frame. When Deb Crowfoot of the River Valley Ward, Edmonton Alberta Riverbend Stake, asked what he was looking at the visitor replied that he had cut around the door and couldn't believe the quality of his workmanship.

Keith Woodruff of the Callingwood Park Ward, Edmonton Alberta Riverbend Stake, also took note of people as they entered and toured the temple. He saw evidence of attitudes softened and hearts touched. He even heard one boy comment, "I wish I could live in a house just like this."

Many visitors, Brother Woodruff explained, "went through once and wanted to go through again." Some visited the temple, only to return at a later time with family and friends.

On Saturday, Dec. 4, more than 10,345 people attended the temple open house.

Because parking was limited and the new temple stands on the only road leading into the community, organizers staged transit buses to transport people to and from the open house. As one bus dropped visitors off at the temple, another would pick up those who had finished the tour. The system worked better than anyone imagined. Hardly anyone waited.

While the open house was not a proselyting activity, organizers say many people wanted to know more about the Church after touring the temple. "We gave away 786 copies of the Book of Mormon, we had 602 requests for videos and we know of three people who phoned the mission home," said Elder Blair S. Bennett, an Area Authority Seventy and vice chairman of the temple committee.

Elder Bennett personally invited several of his non-LDS friends to attend the open house. "We had more than 73 people come," he said. "It was overwhelming."

Jennifer Williams of the Riverbend Ward, Edmonton Alberta Riverbend Stake, noted that many of her non-LDS friends have followed the construction of the temple. She let them know about the open house.

"As much as it was my temple it was there [during the open house] for my friends and my neighbors," she said. "During those days, it was Edmonton's temple."

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