ABBOTSFORD, B.C. Reminding the members in British Columbia that the sacred nature of temples did not originate with the Latter-day Saints, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy broke ground for the seventh temple in Canada and the first in the province.
Speaking of the significance of temples to followers of God and Jesus Christ, Elder Rasband added: "Temples have been constructed and called sacred since ancient times.... It was the great temple of Herod in Jerusalem that the Lord Jesus Christ visited multiple times in His own lifetime calling it: 'His Father's house,' and later in His ministry, 'His own house."'
Nearly 400 members attended the occasion on a sunny summer morning in an area surrounded by evergreen trees. Elder Rasband, who was president of the North America Northwest Area until changes in area leadership earlier this month, presided and offered the dedicatory prayer on the site. He then led leaders and wives in turning the first ceremonial shovelful of soil. Also offering remarks was Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy, who was accompanied by his wife, Vicki Walker; President Paul D. Christensen of the Abbotsford British Columbia Stake; and Melanie Rasband. Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan participated in the ceremony.
In his remarks, Elder Rasband said: "When completed, this most beautiful temple will fulfill multiple purposes. It is a place of prayer and a place of learning. The temple is a place of instruction, a place of revelation and sacred ordinances that are performed here. When worthy members of our Church enter this temple, they will leave their worldly cares and concerns outside and enter a place of peace and meditation."
Elder Walker, who is a native of Alberta, spoke of how timely and important a temple in British Columbia will be to members here. "A temple in Vancouver will be a great blessing to the Canadian saints. For years, the temple in Cardston was known as the Canada temple. We now will have temples across this great country." The Vancouver British Columbia Temple was announced by the First Presidency on May 25, 2006, in a letter to priesthood leaders.
Brian Leavitt, local historian for the Vancouver British Columbia Temple construction, contributed to this report.