Announced: July 29, 1998
Location: 2930 Cody Drive in northwest Bismarck, ND 58503-0116; phone (701) 258-9590; no clothing rental.
Site: 1.6 acres.
Exterior finish: White marble.
Temple design: Classic modern.
Architects: Ritterbush-Ellig-Hulsing and Church A&E Services.
Project manager: Cory Karl.
Contractor: Capital City Construction.
Rooms: Celestial room, baptistry, two ordinance rooms, two sealing rooms, baptistry.
Total floor area: 10,700 square feet.
Dimensions: 149 feet by 77 feet.
District: Three stakes and one district in North Dakota and South Dakota.
Groundbreaking, site dedication: Oct. 17, 1998; Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy and first counselor in the North America Central Area.
Dedication: Sept. 19, 1999, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; 3 sessions.
By President Gordon B. Hinckley
Our beloved Father, Thou almighty Elohim, with reverent and thankful hearts we bow before Thee on this day of dedication. We are here to mark another great milestone in the history of Thy work in the earth. We have erected this temple unto Thee and unto Thy Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are met to dedicate it as Thy house, even the House of the Lord.
Acting in the authority of the Holy Priesthood in us vested and in the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, we dedicate and consecrate this the Bismarck North Dakota Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We dedicate the ground on which it stands and the structure from the footings to the steeple. We dedicate the rooms and facilities found herein, including the baptistry, the endowment rooms, the celestial room, the sealing rooms with their sacred altars.
May Thy Holy Spirit dwell here at all times and in all circumstances. Wilt Thou accept it as the offering of Thy sons and daughters who come before Thee in faith and love, with an appreciation for Thy great blessings upon us. Our hearts are filled with thanksgiving for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ including the ordinances of Thy house. We thank Thee for the Prophet Joseph Smith who was an instrument in Thy hands in bringing together all of past dispensations in this the last and final dispensation, even the dispensation of the fulness of times.
We thank Thee for the faith of Thy sons and daughters in the vast area of this temple district, men and women who love Thee and love their Redeemer, and have stood steadfast as Thy people. They have felt much alone. They are out on the frontier of the Church. Their numbers are still not large. But they are entitled to every blessing which the Church has to offer, including the ordinances here administered.
May they come here frequently. Wilt Thou bless them for their efforts and reward them for their faith. Watch over them and keep them from harm and trouble in the long distances many will still travel.
This sacred edifice has been made possible by tithe payers of the Church throughout the world. Wilt Thou pour out Thy blessings upon them and prosper them in their labors. May they not look to Thee in vain, but see fulfilled the promises made anciently to those who contribute generously and obediently to Thy work.
Bless Thy Church and kingdom. Bless all who serve therein. Touch the hearts of those who have become indifferent and careless, that they may be stirred to return to activity and participate in the blessings of this Thy house.
Stay the hand of the adversary that none shall molest or deface this building in any way. May none unworthily come within these walls. This is Thy house, and we come here as Thy guests. Bless us that we shall leave with a greater appreciation for Thee and a stronger love for Thy divine work. May this be a place of refuge from the storms of life, a quiet harbor from the stress that beats upon so many.
We pray for the temple president and the matron together with their counselors and assistants and all who labor in this Thy house. May they find joy in this consecrated service. Bless those who come as patrons that they may enter with clean hands and pure hearts and a desire to do Thy will.
Now, dear Father, hear our prayer. Accept of our thanks and our love. May we find favor in Thy sight and delight to honor and serve Thee in spirit and in truth we humbly pray in the name of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
Shortening the vast distances
Dell Van Orden Church News editor
BISMARCK, N.D. — In a land with relatively few members of the Church separated by vast distances, the Bismarck North Dakota Temple — which serves an area upwards of 200,000 square miles — was dedicated here Sunday, Sept. 19, by President Gordon B. Hinckley.
The nearly 9,000 members of the temple district are spread out from deep into western Minnesota, across 350 miles of both North Dakota and South Dakota to the Montana and Wyoming state lines; and from the Canadian border across the Dakotas into northern Nebraska.Still, with those vast distances, 3,015 members, some traveling from areas more than eight hours away, attended the three dedicatory sessions of the Church's first temple in the four-state area.
Plans for the granite-veneer temple, located in a quiet residential area in northwest Bismarck, were announced Aug. 8, 1998, by the First Presidency. In just a little over a year, the temple has been completed. It opened for ordinance work the day after it was dedicated.
"The temple will be a great blessing to the people," President Gordon B. Hinckley told the Church News after the last dedicatory session had ended on a day chilled by a crisp wind carrying a tinge of coming winter.
Perhaps more of a statement than a question, President Hinckley continued, "Who would have ever dreamed we would have a temple in Bismarck?"
President Hinckley arrived in Bismarck — the first time ever he has been to North Dakota — the evening of Sept. 18. He was accompanied by his wife, Marjorie; Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve; and Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Seventy and his wife, Toshiko.
A short time after arriving in Bismarck, President Hinckley visited the temple. As he came onto the grounds, he was greeted by a few Church members outside the temple. But when he exited the edifice about an hour later, many Church members had gathered, hoping for a chance to meet him.
President Hinckley didn't disappoint them.
"Where did all these people come from?" President Hinckley humorously inquired as he came out of the temple and saw the waiting crowd. He then shook hands with many of them and inquired where they were from.
"Grand Forks, North Dakota," replied Heather Ricks when she was asked the question by President Hinckley.
"How far is that?" he inquired.
"Five hours," she said.
"Five hours!" he exclaimed emphatically, bringing laughter from the crowd.
The next day, members started arriving for the dedication, held in the temple and in the adjacent Bismarck stake center, in the pre-dawn hours. First to arrive for the outdoor cornerstone ceremony were Duncan and Sandy McKee and their seven children who made the 450-mile trip from Marshall, Minn. They had made the same trip just a week before to attend the temple's open house. Arriving at the temple at 6 a.m. they had to wait in the morning chill for the ceremony to begin two hours later, just as the sun popped up over the eastern horizon.
"We're really excited to see the prophet," said 17-year-old Emily McKee. "We never get to see him or any other General Authority."
A 47-voice youth and young adult choir from the Bismarck stake provided music for the ceremony. As President Hinckley, Elder Scott, Elder Kikuchi and the temple presidency and their wives exited the temple, the choir, led by Bonnie Frohlich, choir director in the Bismarck ward, began singing "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet."
"Thank you," President Hinckley said to the singers after they had sung the hymn.
He then proceeded to symbolically seal the coverstone, behind which is the cornerstone box containing memorabilia about the temple. President Hinckley placed some mortar above the coverstone, and then invited Elder Scott, Elder Kikuchi, Sister Hinckley, Sister Kikuchi and the temple presidency to do likewise. And, as is his custom, he then invited three youngsters from the crowd to come forward to try their hand at putting a dab of mortar in place.
For the ceremony, the choir sang two hymns. Because of the long distances involved, the young singers from the Bismarck, Dunseith and Minot 1st and 2nd wards had rehearsed the hymns in their own wards. The choir's only rehearsal as a group was the night before the ceremony when they got together at the cornerstone site.
Included among the singers was Benjamin Cox, a 17-year-old defensive back football player for Century High School in Bismarck, who suffered a football-career-ending concussion in a game two days before the dedication and was hospitalized overnight. He was given a priesthood blessing.
When the choir members gathered the morning of the cornerstone ceremony, Ben was on the risers, singing with the other young people.
The 10,352-square foot Bismarck temple is the Church's 61st operating temple and the sixth of the new, smaller generation of temples to be dedicated since the concept was announced by President Hinckley in general conference in October 1997.
"I love these smaller temples," President Hinckley said in the Church News interview. "I am very grateful for them. They are very efficient and exceedingly well built with the best materials." The granite veneer for the temple is from Quebec, the marble is from Italy, the stained glass windows are from Germany and the chandeliers in the celestial and sealing rooms are from the former Czechoslovakia.
"The result [of the smaller temples] is we get temples nearer to the people," President Hinckley explained.
However, he said, "Even with the temple here, some will still have to travel a very long distance, but it will be much shorter than it was before. There is so much faith on the part of the people in these areas. They're willing to go anywhere to accomplish the temple work."
In the interview, President Hinckley was asked if temple work had increased because of more temples being dedicated. [Eight temples have been dedicated so far this year and another 54 have been announced and are under construction or in planning stages.] He replied, "There has been a substantial increase in temple work. With the addition of new temples, the work has shown a marked increase."
The Bismarck temple district includes the Bismarck and Fargo stakes in North Dakota, and the Rapid City and Sioux Falls stakes and the Pierre District in South Dakota. Before the Bismarck temple was dedicated, members, depending on where they live, were assigned to the Denver, Chicago or Alberta temple districts.
For those living in Grand Forks, N.D. , for instance, it was about a 16-hour drive to attend the temple in Chicago. For those in Minot, N.D., it was about a 14-hour drive to Cardston, Alberta. For those in Rapid City, S.D., it was a seven-hour drive to Denver.
"These are highly dedicated people," Robert B. Dahlgren, Bismarck temple president, told the Church News. "They are used to driving long distances.
"Can you imagine how happy these people are now with a temple so close?" asked Pres. Dahlgren, a former counselor in the Chicago temple, who joined the Church in Huron, S.D., in 1953.
Speaking of the dedication of the people, Pres. Dahlgren spoke of a retired couple living in an area some distance from Bismarck. He asked them, "Would you be willing to move to Bismarck and work in the temple full time?" The couple agreed, and are now full-time temple workers here.
The temple has been received very well in Bismarck, a city of about 50,000 on the banks of the Missouri River in central North Dakota, explained Pres. Dahlgren. "I am not aware of a single negative thing in connection with the temple." He said 10,267 people attended the open house, Sept. 10-11, some coming back more than once.
The Church has owned the land where the temple is situated since the early 1980s when it was purchased at the same time as the land for the Bismarck meetinghouse. From 1990-1993, Pres. Dahlgren's son, Dan, was district president in Bismarck prior to the creation of the Bismarck stake. Dan Dahlgren was city coordinator of Bismarck.
He explained that there was some encouragement during his time as district president to sell the land that was not needed for the meetinghouse and the parking lot. "I didn't feel it was right to sell the property," said Brother Dahlgren, now city manager of West Jordan, Utah, and a member of the West Jordan Utah Welby Stake presidency.
"When we lived here in Bismarck, we felt there was something sacred in this area. Others felt the same way. We are seeing the fulfillment of those feelings today," he said. "It is such a blessing for these wonderful people, who have sacrificed so much, to have a temple here."
"The temple here is nothing short of a miracle," said Sister Frohlich, the cornerstone choir director.
Darrell Bartholomew, president of Sioux Falls South Dakota Stake's Marshall Branch in Minnesota, said 90 members — about 45 percent of the 220-member branch — made the eight-hour trip to the dedication, an indication of the faithfulness of the branch members. They came in two buses, as well as in some private cars. The branch, spread out over 5,000 square miles, is the eastern boundary of the temple district in that part of Minnesota. On the other end of the temple district, the Alliance Branch in Nebraska, a unit of the Rapid City stake, is an 81/2-hour drive from the Bismarck temple.
Among those attending the dedication were Orlin and Shirley Jacobson of Bismarck, who have been members of the Church since the 1950s. They have been members in Bismarck longer than anybody else who is still living in the city.
"When we heard the news that there would be a temple in Bismarck, we couldn't believe it," said Sister Jacobson. "It didn't seem possible there could be a temple here."
Pam Gough, wife of Richard W. Gough, president of the Rapid City stake, perhaps summed up the feelings of many after attending a dedicatory session. "I could hardly talk," she said. She and her husband were in the temple with "people so dear to us" from their stake. "We got outside and started hugging each other. There wasn't anything I could say, I just wanted to hug them. It was absolutely extraordinary."
Bismarck temple open house opening doors to many hearts
Opening the Bismarck North Dakota Temple for public tours proved to open many hearts — creating something of a missionary paradise. The Fargo North Dakota Stake presidency issued a challenge to members to take a non-member friend to the open house of the temple. After four days of the open house that ended Sept. 11, a goal of 10,201 visitors had been exceeded.
Two 45-passenger buses brought members from the Bemidji, Minn., area, more than 350 miles from the temple. Several members living near the temple returned often, each time with a different neighbor. Loretta Johnson, a Minot newspaper reporter, had written an article which was published on the front page the week prior to the open house. The writer returned the day following the press conference "for personal reasons" she said. She returned a third time with a friend.
"It's a good turnout for a city of 50,000," said temple president Robert B. Dahlgren.
Ryan Harding, a 17-year-old priest of the Bismarck Ward, said he was asked to write an article for his high school newspaper explaining why he is a Latter-day Saint, the importance of the temple and going on a mission. He invited his teachers to the open house.
Prior to the general public open house, special local groups, such as residents of the temple neighborhood, contractors and construction crews, clergy, government leaders and business people, were led on tours by Elders Yoshihiko Kikuchi and Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy and members of the North America Central Area presidency .
"I think it was very successful," Elder Kikuchi said of the open house. "The husband of a visitor came over. He pulled me down the hallway. He said to me in tears, 'This is extremely inspiring. I am so touched,' " he said. "Another man was so moved, I thought he was a member. He was in tears holding his wife's hand, and said, 'I cannot describe the feeling.' "
Representative comments from visitors were: "I can't imagine any room more beautiful than this [the baptistry]."
"It was educational. Absolutely beautiful structure. It was fun to learn a little more of the Mormon faith."
"I feel very privileged to be in on something like that [the open house]," said Curt Juhala, chief of staff at St. Alexius Hospital, Bismarck. He attended with his wife, Linda.
"It's so nice that you don't have to drive so far," said Marcia Kilzer, wife of Ralph Kilzer of Bismarck, a state senator. He added, "It's wonderful that you chose our district."
Helen Schatz, a county commissioner, said, "How nice of you to ask us. On Sunday, we just drove around it, and felt like we should whisper in the car."
The light gray granite edifice is the first operating temple in the upper Midwest of the United States, and the 61st operating temple of the Church. The structure — 10,500 square feet of floor space — was built on a double lot adjacent to the Bismarck North Dakota Stake Center, in a residential neighborhood in the northwest corner of the city.
Members personally delivered hundreds of invitations to residents living around the temple. "The neighbors just had the most wonderful spirit," said Elder Thomas Holt, Area Authority Seventy.