SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In the area that sparked the California gold rush more than 160 years ago, Church members celebrated the dedication of a more precious treasure, the Sacramento California Temple, Sunday, Sept. 3.
President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the temple. Accompanying President Hinckley and participating in the four dedicatory sessions were President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency; Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Richard G. Hinckley of the Seventy. Sisters Barbara Perry, Melanie Rasband and Jane Hinckley also attended.
Joining those in the temple, members participated in the dedicatory services via satellite broadcast to meetinghouses in the 21 stakes of the temple district.
The joy of having a temple in Sacramento was expressed by Lisa West of the temple's public affairs committee. "We have really waited a long time for a temple," she said. "We have been patient and faithful. Today, our patience paid off. It's done. It's ready. It's ours."
Pioneers who sailed to California on the ship Brooklyn and members of the Mormon Battalion were part of the early history of the Sacramento area, settling in the area or traveling through on their way to Utah. A key factor leading to the gold rush was the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill where Battalion members were working.
Though most members moved from California in the mid-19th century, members moving into the area since then and the fruits of missionary work have strengthened the Church in the temple district. And for many years members have longed to have a temple in their midst.
Prior to volunteer duty during the dedication, Anthony and Stephanie Farnworth of the Sacramento 1st Ward, Sacramento California Stake, gazed with wonder through the fence at the temple. "It's like it's not even real," Sister Farnworth said.
For Al Parker of the Payson 11th Ward, Payson Utah West Stake, the transition on the temple hill was remarkable. A convert to the Church and recently a member of a stake presidency in the Sacramento area, Brother Parker remembered playing basketball in the building adjacent to the temple located in Rancho Cordova, about 15 miles east of California's capital city.
At that time, more than four decades ago, it was a recreation center for his employer, the Aerojet aerospace company. The Church purchased the property atop a low-rising hill in the early 1970s and converted the recreation center into a meetinghouse of the Fair Oaks California Stake. The Church continued to use the forested property for recreation such as picnics and camping, softball and volleyball. Even now, the forest is home to deer, wild turkeys, foxes and other animals that roam freely on the hill.
General growth has resulted in significant growth in the Church in the area recently, especially the suburbs of Sacramento, said Richard Linn, first counselor in the Rocklin California Stake presidency. He and his wife, Janet, attended the dedication with their children. Many people are moving from the San Francisco Bay area to the family-oriented area, he said.
The temple is "an answer to prayer and a blessing to members here," he emphasized. He noted that there was some opposition to the temple at first, but it was overcome when many leaders of other churches spoke in favor of the temple. He credited that attitude to positive outreach and interfaith efforts by the Church.
There was very good coverage of the temple open house, cultural celebration and dedication by local media. Sister West said members of the media didn't know much about the Church at first, but were eager to learn and were intrigued by what they found out. The media platform at the dedication's cornerstone ceremony was packed with TV cameras and reporters.
The Sacramento temple fills in an area between the Oakland, Reno and Fresno temples. Most members of the new district previously traveled to the temple in Oakland, and many attending the dedication expressed gratitude for the blessing of a temple in closer proximity. Though they live in the far northern area of the temple district, Kevin and Kimberley Wagner of the Chico 2nd Ward, Chico California Stake, said attending the temple in Sacramento will greatly reduce the 12-hour commitment it took to attend the temple in Oakland.
California's seventh temple, the 123rd working temple of the Church, will serve more than 80,000 members.
E-mail to: [email protected]