FARMINGTON, CONN. — The fourth Thursday of every November is typically a day for Americans to gather with family and friends, feast on a traditional turkey meal and, most importantly, to think about the things they are most grateful for.
In the days leading up to the national holiday, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout New England can count the completion of a local temple on their list of blessings. The Hartford Connecticut Temple — the second for the area, following the Boston Massachusetts Temple — was dedicated in three sessions by President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the LDS Church's First Presidency, on Nov. 20, the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
And on the eve of the dedication, some 1,100 youth from throughout the temple district — which comprises parts of five U.S. states — showed their gratitude for the new temple through song and dance.
The Saturday evening program — titled “A Marvelous Work” — celebrated the area’s rich heritage, including its role in the establishment of this nation and its ties to early LDS Church history.
Between the cultural celebration Saturday night but before Sunday morning's dedicatory events, cold rain pummeled the area. On the morning of the dedication, however, sunshine peaked through the clouds to allow attendees to watch the cornerstone ceremony in dry, if not warm, conditions.
Braving an icy wind, families and individuals gathered outside the temple to watch as President Eyring symbolically finished the construction of the temple by applying mortar to the cornerstone.
Several other visiting Church leaders wielded the trowel to apply mortar, including Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Patricia Holland; Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Susan Gong; Elder Larry Y. Wilson, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Lynda Wilson, and Elder Randall K. Bennett and his wife, Shelley Bennett. A few children from the temple district were then invited to participate.
Danny Young, a member from New Haven, Connecticut, said the completion of a temple was something that was long hoped for but many never thought they’d see the day.
Plans for a temple in Hartford were originally announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley in 1992 but they were set aside as temples were built in Boston and New York City. In 2010, President Thomas S. Monson renewed plans to build a sacred edifice on Connecticut soil, and in August of 2013, he presided at the groundbreaking.
During that ceremony he said, “Today is a special and sacred day as we bring to fruition the hopes and dreams of the Church members here and break ground for the Hartford Connecticut Temple.”
Barb Sutton, who has lived in the area for 45 years, said the day of dedication “feels like a dream come true.” Remembering the days when the Salt Lake Temple, more than 2,300 miles away, was the closest temple, she said she can drive there in less than an hour. “It’s been a blessing to see the Church grow and thrive,” she said.
President Eyring expressed his love and praise to members within the new temple district. “The Lord was able to do this because these faithful people were there and He loves them," he said. "It’s a great tribute to their faith.”