Ground broken for Helena Montana Temple less than 3 months after it was announced

Just two months and 22 days after President Russell M. Nelson announced the Helena Montana Temple in April 2021 general conference, a groundbreaking for the new temple was held, marking the beginning of its construction. 

Elder Vern P. Stanfill, a General Authority Seventy, presided at the Saturday, June 26, event and offered the dedicatory prayer on the temple site. Attendance at the groundbreaking was by invitation only. Those living within the temple district participated via broadcast. 

Leading up to the groundbreaking ceremony, Elder Standfill said he “pondered greatly on the many who have lived in the shadow of these mountains who … sacrificed, served and hoped for this day.”

Elder Vern P. Stanfill, a General Authority Seventy, speaks to Latter-day Saint leaders, members and friends of the Church during the groundbreaking of the Helena Montana Temple on Saturday, June 26, 2021.
Elder Vern P. Stanfill, a General Authority Seventy, speaks to Latter-day Saint leaders, members and friends of the Church during the groundbreaking of the Helena Montana Temple on Saturday, June 26, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“Theirs is a legacy of faith and discipleship of the Savior,” he said during the event. “They have driven millions of miles, met in homes, storefronts … and a myriad of other places as they have worked to build the Church here in Montana.”

The Helena Montana Temple will be the state’s second temple; the Billings Montana Temple was dedicated on Nov. 20, 1999. 

Carl Hatch, a Latter-day Saint living within the temple district, offered historical background about the temple’s significance to the local Church community, Newsroom reported. Montana’s first congregation was established in 1898. The state is now home to more than 50,000 Latter-day Saints in some 125 congregations.

“I testify that the holy temple is essential for obtaining eternal life which our Heavenly Father has said is the greatest gift He can give us,” Hatch said.

Nancy Freeman, another local member, shared her testimony about how attending the temple helped blessings unfold in her life. “From the temple comes the blessing of preparing us to return to our Father in Heaven. In the temple we are blessed with a greater learning and understanding of the gospel plan,” she said. 

Elder Stanfill quoted President Nelson’s remarks from the April 2021 general conference, in which he announced 20 new temples would be built, including the Helena temple: “We are building now for the future! … We want to bring the house of the Lord even closer to our members, that they may have the sacred privilege of attending the temple as often as their circumstances allow.”

Carl Hatch, a Latter-day Saint from Helena, Montana, offers historical background about the Helena Montana Temple’s significance for Montanan Church members during the Helena Montana Temple groundbreaking on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Helena, Montana.
Carl Hatch, a Latter-day Saint from Helena, Montana, offers historical background about the Helena Montana Temple’s significance for Montanan Church members during the Helena Montana Temple groundbreaking on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Helena, Montana. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church released a site location and exterior rendering for the Helena Montana Temple on April 20, less than three weeks after its announcement in general conference. The 4.8-acre site is at 1260 Otter Road, where the temple will sit along with a new meetinghouse.

Plans call for a single-story temple of approximately 10,000 square feet with a center spire. Details for the open house and temple dedication will be announced at a future date. 

Other than the Helena temple, locations have been identified for six of the 20 temples President Nelson announced in April. Sites were set for Burley Idaho, Farmington New Mexico and Grand Junction Colorado temples on June 23. Two weeks earlier, locations for the Casper Wyoming, Elko Nevada and Smithfield Utah temples were announced.