CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA
Calgary Alberta Temple President Blair S. Bennett has emphasized that members have responsibilities for the care of the new temple where they will soon gather and worship inside its stately stone walls.
It's evident that the members here — along with many of their friends and neighbors — already feel a certain connection to Alberta's third temple. In recent days, droves of people from across the new temple district have worked in and outside the temple to ensure that everything was ready prior to Sept. 29 — the first day of the temple's open house.
"It's been really neat to see so many people from all walks of life come and help at the temple," said Tom Saunders, chairman of the temple open house committee.
By mid-September, temple officials realized much needed to be done to have the temple and the exterior grounds and gardens ready for the open house. A call for volunteer workers was put out over the Internet. The presidents of the six stakes comprising the temple district were also alerted. On the evening of Sept. 17, the first wave of volunteers began arriving at the temple eager to perform any and all needed tasks. By Sept. 25, some 16,000 volunteer labor hours had been performed and the temple was fit for open house visitors.
"The temple is absolutely beautiful," said Brother Saunders. "It takes your breath away."
Open house organizers said they were inspired by the enthusiasm of the volunteers who proved willing to do whatever was asked to beautify the temple and the temple grounds. Some volunteers were assigned cleaning projects inside the temple, while some planted trees and shrubs outside. Many were asked to spread bark mulch around the newly planted trees or lay acres of sod in areas throughout the temple property. Others grabbed brooms and swept the grounds while their fellow volunteers hose-cleaned the sidewalks.
It didn't matter if the volunteers were men, women, boys or girls — there was something each could do to help.
Kevin Palmer, who manages the open house ushers, fondly recalled watching a line of Primary children carrying boxes of shoe coverings from a neighboring meetinghouse to the entrance of the temple. The shoe coverings will be used by the tens of thousands of guests expected to visit the temple in the coming weeks.
Another group of children manned a commercial lemonade stand outside the temple and squeezed and distributed gallons of homemade lemonade to the delight of thirsty volunteers.
Service provided at the temple was not limited to members. When a man who lives near the temple learned there were landscaping needs, he enlisted the help of a few friends and spent several days working on a variety of projects. The man and his friends, said Brother Saunders, are not members of the Church.
"The participation of the neighborhood has just been amazing," he said.
The response of the volunteers also helped lift the spirits of the contracted workers who had been working long, difficult hours to complete the temple.
Brother Saunders and Brother Palmer told the Church News that the work of each volunteer indicated that many have followed President Bennett's charge. They feel a spiritual connection to the new temple.
Now the volunteers will turn their attention to serving during the open house, scheduled to run through Oct. 20. Hundreds are required each day to perform a vast array of jobs. Again, the members have responded. "They are so enthused about the temple that they feel like they can't give enough," said Brother Saunders.
The Calgary Alberta Temple will be dedicated on Sunday, Oct. 28, in three sessions. A cultural celebration featuring music and dance will be staged on the eve of the dedication. The Calgary temple will be the eighth in Canada.
President Thomas S. Monson announced plans to build the Calgary Alberta Temple on Oct. 4, 2008. Ground was broken for the temple on May 15, 2010.