LANGLEY, British Columbia
Just months after the world turned its view to Vancouver for the XXI Olympic Winter Games, Latter-day Saints looked to the city again – this time in celebration of the dedication of the Church's 131st temple.
President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the Vancouver British Columbia Temple on May 2.
Lyn Sloan of Surrey, British Columbia, said Latter-day Saints in the area were excited for the Olympics, but the temple dedication “was always foremost in our minds.”
“We have talked about his day for years and dreamed about it. Really, it is a dream come true.”
Crowds from across British Columbia gathered on the temple grounds for the dedication and cornerstone ceremony of the new temple, held on a drizzly, cold morning prior to the first of the day's three dedicatory sessions.
President Monson placed mortar in the cornerstone then asked others to do the same.
“You look like a good boy,” President Monson told Ashton Bates, 9. He added, “You are going on a mission. Have your mother remember that.”
The 28,165-square foot temple is located on 11 acres in the highest part of Langley. The temple will serve 22,000 Latter-day Saints in 91 congregations through British Columbia and northern Washington state.
“The temple will transform this community,” said Elder Paul D.M. Christensen, an Area Seventy and chairman of the local temple committee.
Before the temple was completed, LDS Church members from British Columbia traveled to the Seattle Washington Temple.
But, Elder Christensen said, there were a significant number of Latter-day Saints who could not cross the border for various reasons including, for retired Canadians, health insurance issues. That meant there were “a significant number of Church members who couldn't go to the temple,” he said.
Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the Church's Temple Department grew up and Alberta, Canada, and moved to Vancouver just after he was married.
The Church growth in the area since he lived here has been substantial, he said. “It is a wonderful time for Canadian Latter-day Saints,” he said.
He said the post 9-11 era has made travel across the Canadian border more time consuming and difficult for Church members. In addition, he said, in recent decades the Church has grown in numbers and strength in British Columbia and could support a temple.
Vancouver, he said, is one of the most striking cities in the world.
“During the Olympics,” he said, “we saw these images of the beauty of this area.”
Church members, coming off the Olympic celebrations, which showcased their city, used the open house as an opportunity to share their religion. More than 40,000 people toured the temple during the public open house.
Everyone agrees hosting the Olympics was a once in a lifetime experience. Still, Latter-day Saints add, the dedication of a temple in British Columbia trumps that.
“I will never forget this – ever,” said 12-year-old Juliet Lyon of Nanaimo, British Columbia.