RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. "The time has come when we should have a temple in this great area of California," President Gordon B. Hinckley told a congregation of thousands in the Sacramento area on Sunday, Aug. 22. A short time later, he began the process by turning the first shovelful of soil in ceremonies to begin the construction of the Sacramento California Temple.
To be located on a secluded hilltop at "the Mormon Center," about 15 miles east of the state's capital, the temple will be California's seventh.
President Hinckley spoke and offered a short dedicatory prayer for the temple site from the Fair Oaks Stake Center, adjacent to the temple site. Nearly 2,000 attended there, while thousands more of the 80,000 members who live in the temple district viewed the proceedings via satellite broadcast in 40 meetinghouses.
Traveling with President Hinckley and conducting the meeting was Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Seventy who was accompanied by his wife, Melanie. Elder and Sister Rasband also spoke, sharing testimonies of the importance of temples and families, and that President Hinckley is the Lord's living prophet.
Among special invited guests were 15 representatives from the area's interfaith bureau, a U.S. Congressman, seven mayors, and other civic and business leaders.
President Hinckley spoke briefly about temples in California, and Church growth in northern California. Then he said, "This temple will not be as large as the Los Angeles Temple, nor some others that we have built. Nor will it be as small as some. It will be adequate. It will be beautiful. The very best materials will be used in its construction. It will truly be 'The House of the Lord.' We hope and believe that it will be acceptable unto Him and that it will be kept busy in accomplishing His great work and purposes."
In his talk, President Hinckley recited from his journal the events surrounding the site selection. Earlier, temple committee chairman and Sacramento California East Stake President Richard M. Alexander had shared his memories of the same experience.
President Alexander said, "When we drove on this property 2 1/2 years ago, President Hinckley asked me why I didn't show him this property first." He said the answer to the question came later when he thought that if he hadn't shown the other three properties first, his time with the Church president would have been shortened.
About the experience, President Hinckley began, " I am so grateful that we have this choice site on which to build a temple."
He then quoted from his journal: "We flew to Sacramento this morning. Here, President Alexander of one of the stakes drove us about. We looked at four sites here. Three of them were not very impressive. We then went to what is known as the Mormon Center. We have here (some) 41 acres purchased from an aerospace corporation in 1972. The building was once occupied by the corporation, but has been remodeled into a beautiful chapel (in which we are assembled tonight). The remainder of the ground is used as a recreation center for the stakes in this area.
"This is a very impressive piece of property. It is out on a road, Interstate 50, near the city of Folsom. The brethren estimated that it is about 15 miles from the state capitol in Sacramento to this site. There are real possibilities here. It is a beautiful place, and I think we could build on it."
President Hinckley encouraged members who have temple recommends to continue to use the temple in Oakland, about 85 miles away, or any other temple they choose. He also told those who didn't have recommends that "today should be your day of resolution. Make up your mind that here and now you will go to work to qualify for a temple recommend. That may require repentance and forgiveness. It may require a change of lifestyle. It will require greater activity in the Church and the meeting of other obligations. But the cost in effort and means will be as nothing compared with the blessings that will be obtained."
Saying that the temple could be built with tithing funds, President Hinckley nevertheless invited members who wish to contribute to its construction. He told of the response in Monticello, Utah, when it was announced that a temple would be built there. He said Indian children living on a nearby reservation donated a fruit jar full of pennies. An eight-year-old boy gave $100 he had earned. A well-to-do man donated a million dollars.
"Each contribution was equally acceptable, and each represented a comparable measure of sacrifice on the part of the donor," he said.
Leading into his testimony and prayer dedicating the site, President Hinckley said, "I pray that this building, when it is dedicated, standing in your midst, will bring with that dedication an added spirit of testimony and faith, of love for the Lord and His great work, of dedication to the work of His cause and His kingdom. I pray that families may be blessed and prospered and live together in love and peace with respect and appreciation one for another. I pray that the gospel light may shine on the countenances of the members of this Church in this area, that they may be known and recognized as those who walk in that light which has come from the God of heaven through the restoration of His great work in this the last and final dispensation of time. I pray that the Spirit of the Lord may rest upon this whole area and that that Spirit may touch the hearts and minds of men and women who will embrace the gospel and partake of its richest blessings."
After a hymn by the choir and a benediction, a group of more than 100, including Church leaders and invited guests, moved outside with President Hinckley to the temple site for the ground breaking. Others watched on the monitors in the meetinghouses.
The temple will join the meetinghouse in the parklike setting. Trees tower over much of the property. It has playgrounds, tennis courts, softball fields, and grassy areas for picnicking and camping. Wild turkeys and deer roam the area.
After the ground was broken, Fair Oaks California Stake President Kent V. Wood said, "We feel very blessed. The Lord has been kind to us."
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