Ground broken for 2nd temple in the Equality State

From a stake center a few blocks away from the Casper Wyoming Temple site, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen spoke to gathered Church leaders and members, local civic and religious leaders, and thousands of Latter-day Saints watching via video broadcast. Due to strong winds and forecast cold temperatures, the majority of the temple groundbreaking proceedings had been moved indoors.

Despite the change in plans, the prayers of Latter-day Saints in the Casper, Wyoming, area over many decades were answered as ground was broken Saturday, Oct. 9, to begin construction on a temple.

“Many of those prayers have been offered by you attending this ceremony,” Elder Nielsen said.

Elder Nielsen, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s North America Central Area, presided at the groundbreaking and offered a dedicatory prayer.

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, second from right, his wife, Sister Wendy Nielsen, third from right, along with Church leaders and invited guests, turn ceremonial shovelfuls of soil during the groundbreaking of the Casper Wyoming Temple on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, second from right, his wife, Sister Wendy Nielsen, third from right, along with Church leaders and invited guests, turn ceremonial shovelfuls of soil during the groundbreaking of the Casper Wyoming Temple on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Before the ceremony, he talked with Steve and Peggy Hopkins, the Casper Wyoming Temple groundbreaking coordinators, about the “hope of a temple in Casper. They told me about faithful Saints for decades who have been praying for a temple close to home.”

Brother Hopkins told Elder Nielsen about his mother, Marie Hopkins, and the beginning of her hope that a temple would be built in Casper. In October 1962, Elder Spencer W. Kimball and Elder Howard W. Hunter, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, came to organize the Casper Wyoming Stake. She was one of the sisters who was asked to make a meal for these Church leaders, unaware that they would both become Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Kimball and Elder Hunter came to the kitchen to “express appreciation for the excellent meal,” Elder Nielsen said, “and for the service the sisters had given in growing the Church in this area. And they told the sisters that there would be many future opportunities to serve as the Church would surely grow and expand, including the construction of a temple in the area someday.”

Many in attendance have had similar revelatory and miraculous experiences, Elder Nielsen said. “We invite you to record those experiences if you haven’t already done so, and I invite you to write down the feelings that you’re having today. This is a journal entry for not only now, but also for those who will read and learn about this event in the future. This will strengthen your families.”

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, left, a General Authority Seventy, and Joseph Warr, a former patriarch and president of the Casper Wyoming Stake, at the Casper Wyoming Temple groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, left, a General Authority Seventy, and Joseph Warr, a former patriarch and president of the Casper Wyoming Stake, at the Casper Wyoming Temple groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In attendance at the ceremony were local civic and religious leaders — including U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and Pastor Nancy Boswell from the First United Methodist Church — along with Church leaders and members.

Watching via video broadcast were members of the Gillette Wyoming, Riverton Wyoming, Worland Wyoming, Casper Wyoming and Casper Wyoming East stakes.

Attendance at the groundbreaking was by invitation only. Residents in the temple district were able to watch the ceremony via broadcast.

Elder Nielsen spoke about President Russell M. Nelson’s remarks in the October 2021 general conference about the need for each Latter-day Saint to have a firm spiritual foundation built on Jesus Christ. 

In his address, President Nelson said: “The temple lies at the center of strengthening our faith and spiritual fortitude because the Savior and His doctrine are the very heart of the temple. Everything taught in the temple, through instruction and through the Spirit, increases our understanding of Jesus Christ. His essential ordinances bind us to Him through sacred priesthood covenants. Then, as we keep our covenants, He endows us with His healing, strengthening power.”

Church leaders and other Latter-day Saints participate in the groundbreaking of the Casper Wyoming Temple on Oct. 9, 2021.
Church leaders and other Latter-day Saints participate in the groundbreaking of the Casper Wyoming Temple on Oct. 9, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Each Church member’s focus should be the same as President Nelson’s focus, Elder Nielsen said. “I invite you to read and study his profound messages from last week’s general conference and seek to understand the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ more deeply, especially as it relates to this significant event. I promise you additional insights that will bring peace and joy to your lives.”

The Casper Wyoming Temple is the first of two temples in the state announced by President Russell M. Nelson this year. It was announced in the April general conference, and another temple, in Cody, was announced in the October conference. Wyoming is also home to the Star Valley Wyoming Temple, dedicated five years ago in October 2016.

“Wyoming is being richly blessed,” Elder Nielsen said.

In his dedicatory prayer, he recounted the experience of early Latter-day Saints as they traveled through Wyoming on their way to the Salt Lake Valley. “May we never forget their unwavering effort and sacrifices,” he said. “May this temple stand as a symbol of their commitment to Thee and of their desire to build Thy kingdom here on Earth.”

Sister Wendy Nielsen, wife of Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, greets members at the Casper Wyoming Temple groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Sister Wendy Nielsen, wife of Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, greets members at the Casper Wyoming Temple groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

He shared the gratitude felt by many for whom the temple is an answer to many prayers. “We can only imagine the celebration on the other side of the veil among those whose sacrifices prepared the way for the blessings we enjoy today. Our hearts rejoice with them,” he said.

Located on a 9.5-acre site at the intersection of Wyoming Boulevard Southwest and Eagle Drive, just west of Roosevelt High School, the Casper Wyoming Temple will be a single-story and about 10,000 square feet.

There are over 170 Church congregations in Wyoming, with more than 67,000 Latter-day Saints — or about one in every nine residents — in the state. Wyoming, known as the Equality State for being the first to give voting rights to women, is the least populated and least densely populated state in the contiguous United States.

Learn more about the groundbreaking ceremony on Newsroom.