Because of the intersecting of important roads, railroads and waterways in Indiana, the state has long been dubbed the “Crossroads of America.”
It is a motto that not only represents the central locale of the state as a transportation hub, but also as a gathering place for people who come from different cultures, environments and faiths, said Elder Paul H. Sinclair, who has lived in Indiana for the past 23 years.
“It is a crossroads not just on a map,” he said, paying tribute to the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in the state. People who come to Indiana bring experiences that strengthen the local traditions.
This makes the state — home to natives of 120 different countries — a “very rich place to live,” he explained.
The Indianapolis Indiana Temple, which was dedicated in three sessions on Aug. 23, will now become part of the rich fabric of Indiana.
“The temple will be one of those drawing places at the crossroads,” said Elder Sinclair, an Area Seventy and chairman of the local temple committee. “People will come [to the temple] from all over.”
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the 34,000 square-foot temple, the 148th operating temple worldwide and the first in Indiana.
The temple, located in Carmel, Indiana, was announced by President Thomas S. Monson in the October 2010 general conference; construction began on the site in September of 2012. The temple will serve more than 30,000 Latter-day Saints from nine stakes.
Before dedicating the temple, President Eyring — who was accompanied to Indiana by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other General Authorities — greeted Church members gathered on the temple grounds and placed mortar on the temple’s cornerstone.
Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Temple Department, told the crowd that the cornerstone “is symbolic of Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone of all that we do.”
Elder Sinclair said the local temple committee adopted Doctrine and Covenants 101:64 as a theme for the new temple: “That the work of the gathering together of my saints may continue, that I may build them up unto my name upon holy places. ...”
The temple — a blessing to those gathered in the “Crossroads of America” — is “truly about building Him and all those who come here in His name in this holy place,” he said.
Indiana has long been a gathering place for Latter-day Saints.
In 1831, missionaries arrived in Indiana and organized congregations. Joseph Smith visited Greenville in 1832.
“By the middle 1840s, 30 counties in Indiana had active branches,” said President Koy E. Miskin, a member of the temple presidency who served as historical co-chair with his wife, Martha, on the temple committee.
However, by the late 1840s — when members moved West — there was not a trace of the Church in Indiana, he added.
The state did not have a notable Church presence again until 1927, when the first meetinghouse was constructed. Then between 1940 and 1960, the membership of the Church in Indiana grew, as members began to settle permanently in the state. The first stake in Indiana, the Indianapolis Indiana Stake, was organized in 1959.
Brother and Sister Miskin moved to West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1978. At that time there was one ward in the city; four years later Brother Miskin was ordained the first president of the Lafayette Indiana Stake, the first stake in Indiana.
The Miskins learned that one of President Miskin’s ancestors joined the Church in Indiana in the 1930s before leaving the state. They now feel that by moving to the Hoosier State, they were coming “home to Indiana.”
Stephen Thompson and Ruthanne Thompson joined the Church in Indiana in 1965.
They moved to Utah to attend BYU and were planning to stay in the West, when Brother Thompson received a priesthood blessing encouraging him to return to his home state.
In 1967, when the Thompsons moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana, there was neither a branch nor missionaries in the area. They have witnessed the Church in Indiana grow in both numbers and respect from the community, said Brother Thompson.
“We have been extremely blessed to be a part of it,” said Sister Thompson.
Elder Sinclair said Brother Thompson is the only member of the temple committee who is a native of Indiana.
“The rest of us have been drawn here for one reason or another,” he explained.
The Indianapolis temple will now draw others to the “Crossroads of America,” he said.
Larry and Gayle Shumard of the Fort Wayne Indiana Stake said Hoosier Latter-day Saints have been blessed in recent years to be surrounded by temples — in Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; and St. Louis, Missouri.
But traveling to those temple still required a good deal of sacrifice.
For the past three years, the Shumards have served as ordinance workers in Chicago — driving between three and four hours one way to the temple every other weekend.
Church members in Indiana now enjoy the blessing of a temple “because of the faith and sacrifice of generations,” Brother Shumard said.
The architecture of the new temple pays tribute to Indiana and the people who, for generations, worked to build the Church in the Hoosier State.
The building is decorated with a motif of blossoms from the tulip poplar — Indiana’s state tree — and a motif of circles — representing Indianapolis’ nickname, Circle City. The building’s architecture — and specifically its spire — echoes some of the historically significant buildings in downtown Indianapolis.
That symbolism makes it easy for locals to claim the temple as their own.
“It is an Indiana temple,” said Brayden Enz, 15, who attended the first dedicatory session. “It is not just any temple. It is ours.”
[email protected] @SJW_ChurchNews
[email protected] @SJW_ChurchNews