RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – This typical warm and sunny Sunday morning was anything but typical for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple on Sunday, May 8 — the eighth temple in the South American nation of nearly 1.5 million members of the Church.
He said the temple helps individuals fulfill their divine potential as children of God. By participating in work in the temple and being worthy to be there, individuals fulfill God’s vision for them.
“Brazil now has eight temples and eight more on the way — either under construction or in the planning phase,” Elder Stevenson said.
“Why? It’s the people here,” he said. “Members congregate together, and the Lord blesses those members with a temple.”
Elder Stevenson recalled the words of President Russell M. Nelson from four years ago when he said in general conference, “After we receive our own temple ordinances and make sacred covenants with God, each one of us needs the ongoing spiritual strengthening and tutoring that is possible only in the house of the Lord. And our ancestors need us to serve as proxy for them.”
As is customary during the first dedicatory session of a temple, the cornerstone of the temple was symbolically sealed by invited Church leaders, the new temple presidency and Primary children.
Elder Stevenson pointed out another potential symbol of the day, saying that the sun that emerged after the morning rain was similar to the light of the Savior that shines down on Heavenly Father’s children through their storms of life.
“It is upon His foundation we are built,” Elder Stevenson said. “We can think of Jesus Christ as the cornerstone of our hearts.”
Elder Stevenson was joined by his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson; Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Mônica Godoy; Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, General Authority Seventy; and Elder Joni L. Koch, a General Authority Seventy and member of the Brazil Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Michele Koch.\.
Read more: On the eve of the temple dedication in Rio de Janeiro, Elder Stevenson answers questions about the gospel path
From rain to sun, from delay to rejoicing
The early morning rain, Elder Stevenson said, made the crowds slightly smaller than expected on the temple grounds for the first of three dedicatory sessions, but the dedication was broadcast to local chapels as well as throughout the temple district.
The dedication of the temple in Rio comes 100 years after construction began on the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue that is only a few miles away. The temple, Elder Stevenson said, is the Church’s witness that Jesus Christ is indeed the Redeemer of the world.
Elder Stevenson said that temples are a symbol of Zion and the protection from the storm the Lord promises to those who build up the stakes of the Church.
Henrique de Oliveira Lopés, 20, of the Rio de Janeiro Stake, had been given the opportunity to sing in the dedication’s choir when the temple was scheduled to be dedicated two years ago. When the dedication was delayed, he was sure he would miss his chance to sing when the temple opened. He was called to serve a mission in Curitiba, Brazil. He served his two years and returned three weeks ago and was able to join the choir again to sing on Sunday.
“The temple is already increasing the visibility of the Church in Rio since the start of the open house,” Oliveira said. “I believe this will help people earn a better understanding of Jesus Christ in their hearts.”
Rio as a gathering place
Anna Clara Silva dos Santos, 16, of the Rio de Janeiro Stake, said one result of the new temple is that many members will be able to participate more regularly in temple worship.
“It’s not just closer, it’s a lot closer,” she said. “Many people have made sacrifices for years to be able to go to the temple whenever they could.”
“The youth will now be able to finish school for the day and go to the temple,” Silva said. “Before they could only go on the weekend if they could go at all. Now they can go during the week.”
Members of the Church came from around the world to participate in the dedication this weekend. Former missionaries, Brazilians who have moved elsewhere, and others came to the temple grounds to be a part of the momentous day.
One mission had enough returned missionaries come to the city that they held a mission reunion for those who could come.
With Sunday’s dedication by Elder Stevenson, all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have dedicated or rededicated a temple. This is the first time since the Restoration began that this is the case.
Read more: A historic first for temple dedications and rededications — and the senior Church leaders who do them
Church growth in Brazil
Esther Lopés of the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Stake said she thought a lot during the dedication about the pioneers who made sacrifices throughout the history of the Church to enable temples to be built.
“When I think about the people in my own ward and stake and the sacrifices they have made to give me an example of attending the temple and getting closer to Jesus Christ, I really think they are my pioneers,” she said.
The São Paulo Brazil Temple was the first to be dedicated in South America, 44 years ago in 1978. The temple opened only a year after the opening of the Missionary Training Center in the same city. Before that temple’s completion, Brazil was a part of the Mesa Arizona Temple district — some 6,000 miles away.
Of these eight temples, Rio’s is the first in the country to be built without patron housing, a potential signal that there are enough temples close enough to members that overnight stays aren’t imperative anymore. Though, some temples may still need that depending on the geography of their districts.
Temples in Belém, Salvador and Brasilia (the country’s capital) are all under construction. Others have been announced in Belo Horizonte, Vitoria, São Paulo East, Santos and Maceió.
Brazil’s doors officially opened to the Church in 1926 when it was part of the South American Mission. Less than a decade later, the Brazil Mission opened in 1935 — before the Book of Mormon had been translated into Portuguese. That wouldn’t happen for another four years in 1939.
From those humble beginnings nearly 100 years ago, the Church now has 36 missions and 281 stakes with 40 districts, 1,774 wards and 402 branches.
More on the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple
- Read Elder Stevenson’s prayer for Latter-day Saints during the dedication of the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple
- ‘Never forget what you felt,’ Elder Stevenson tells Latter-day Saints in Rio de Janeiro
- On the eve of the temple dedication in Rio de Janeiro, Elder Stevenson answers questions about the gospel path
- The Savior’s arms are open wide for a new temple in Rio de Janeiro
- How a death provided perspective as Elder Soares leads out on Rio de Janeiro temple tours
- Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple open house begins this week — plus see interior, exterior images
- Elder and Sister Soares share family and spiritual roots in Brazil — and visit the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple — during Family Discovery Day
- First Presidency announces Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple open house, dedication dates — see interior, exterior images of new temple
- Postponed: Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple open house and dedication
- Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple open house, dedication dates announced
- Ground broken for future temples in South America
- President Thomas S. Monson announced a temple for Rio de Janeiro at April 2013 general conference