MOSES LAKE, Washington — Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the Moses Lake Washington Temple — the third of three houses of the Lord dedicated during a historic day on Sunday, Sept. 17.
The Moses Lake Washington Temple is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 182nd dedicated house of the Lord. Also on Sunday — the first time three temples were dedicated on the same day — the Brasília Brazil Temple was dedicated by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Bentonville Arkansas Temple was dedicated by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“The temple is a blessing and a gift and prepares us to rejoice in what the Savior has done for us,” Elder Cook said.
While previously a General Authority Seventy, Elder Cook served as president of the Church’s North America Northwest Area, which included Washington state. In addition to visiting many stakes in that area, he also participated with President Gordon B. Hinckley at the dedication of the Columbia River Washington Temple, in Richland, on Nov. 18, 2001, and also during the open house prior to the dedication.
During the Columbia River Washington Temple open house, he noticed a group of visitors from the Moses Lake School Board. The school district had released-time seminary, and officials were aware of those who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the families’ support and involvement.
The school board members “had come to realize the incredible importance of the [Latter-day Saint] students and the support their parents had given to education. The board felt that coming to the temple open house was a way of saying ‘thank you’ and showing respect,” Elder Cook said. “They went on to say that they had not expected to be so impressed and affected.”
Elder Cook noted that the Moses Lake Washington Temple open house had a similar impact on people.
“There was a powerful, spiritual feeling that touched the neighbors and community leaders from all five stakes in this temple district,” he said.
“Our need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater,” President Nelson said. “I plead with you to take a prayerful look at how you spend your time. Invest time in your future and in that of your family. If you have reasonable access to a temple, I urge you to find a way to make an appointment regularly with the Lord — to be in His holy house — then keep that appointment with exactness and joy.
“I promise you that the Lord will bring the miracle He knows you need as you make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples. …
“Building and maintaining temples may not change your life, but spending your time in the temple surely will,” President Nelson promised.
Elder Cook was accompanied by his wife, Sister Mary Cook; Elder Mark A. Bragg, General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s North America West Area, and his wife, Sister Yvonne Bragg; and Elder Shayne M. Bowen, also a General Authority Seventy and assistant executive director of the Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Lynette Bowen.
A temple in central Washington
The Moses Lake temple is the fourth dedicated temple in Washington state, following the Seattle Washington Temple (dedicated in 1980), Spokane Washington Temple (1999) and Columbia River Washington Temple (2001) in Richland, which is about 60 miles to the south. A temple for Tacoma was announced in October 2022 general conference.
The Moses Lake Washington Temple will serve Latter-day Saints in Grant County and surrounding areas in central Washington, who have traveled to the nearby cities of Spokane and Richland to worship in a house of the Lord.
The population of Moses Lake is about 25,000. About 63,000 people visited the temple during the three-week open house, said Michael Christensen, who served with his wife, Lisa Christensen, as the open house and dedication coordinators. They had 2,000 volunteers help give guided tours through the nearly 29,000-square-foot temple.
Groups from Seattle organized buses to come to the temple, and people in the community stopped by just to see what was happening, Michael Christensen said. Those who had served missions in the area or previously lived there also came to see the temple.
The Christensens heard many experiences from tour guides of how they had a connection with someone in their group, such as being a student in class 20 years ago or knowing a relative.
Moses Lake Washington Stake President Ryan Tolley said a local business owner who isn’t a member of the Church commented this summer that she was so excited for “our temple” to finally open.
The Christensens also noticed many families with young children who came from across the north central area of the state or from Idaho to the open house.
“One of the things I will really miss is coming in the mornings of the open house and seeing all of those little fingerprints on the glass of the baptistry,” Lisa Christensen said. She added, “The members in the distant area felt like it was important to for their little children to come and see the temple.”
There were also volunteers, from tour guides to those helping with parking, who drove several hours to serve. Others took vacation time to volunteer in the temple, Michael Christensen said.
“There were so many people who were willing to do so much,” Lisa Christensen said.
Ten-year-old Maia Dahlin of Selah, Washington, and her sister, Kassia, 9, were seated in the baptistry during the dedication. Maia will turn 11 next month and can do baptisms for the dead starting in January.
“I felt that Heavenly Father knows that I’m here,” Maia said of the dedication.
Their parents, Sean and Shawna Dahlin, sang in the choir.
“The preparation that everyone put into it and to see the unity in the temple,” Shawna Dahlin said. “That’s what the gospel is about, is bringing Heavenly Father’s children together.”
Jacob Yadon, 15, and Abbey Yadon, 13, both volunteered during the open house and attended the dedication with their parents, Kent and Carolyn Yaden. Jacob said the experience was unique.
The Andre family, including parents Danielle and Tyler, and Emree, 14, Jesse, 12, and Brighton, 9, were sitting in the chapel adjacent to the temple when they were told there were additional seats in the temple and they could be in the temple.
Emree said she felt the Spirit during the dedication.
“We’ve been preparing for it,” she said of the dedication, and she felt their work paid off.
Brighton said he liked hearing from Elder Cook.
For 27-year-old Jen Ruiz, of Moses Lake, the dedication is one day shy of the two-year anniversary of her baptism. Attending the dedication felt like a “spiritual birthday present.”
She was unexpectedly invited to the temple dedication and was grateful to attend.
Rodrigo and Mireya Ceja moved to Moses Lake 20 years ago when their children were young.
Rodrigo Ceja said he was full of emotion. “Now we need to take advantage of the temple … to be better.”
For Mireya Ceja, attending the dedication has been “nothing but an honor.”
Michael Christensen said, “We’re excited to have it [the temple], and we feel and hope that we can keep it just as busy as any temple.”
The Church in Moses Lake
Located in a rural central area of Washington that blends agriculture and industry, Moses Lake is named in honor of Quetalican — or Chief Moses — a peaceful leader of the Native American Sinkiuse-Columbia people in the early 18th century.
The first Latter-day Saints moved into the Moses Lake area in the early 1900s, purchasing land there. When word spread to others about the rich farmland and the irrigation opportunities following completion of the Grand Coulee Dam, others followed.
Steve Jorgensen, 78, was a year and half old when his family moved to Moses Lake from Vernal, Utah, in 1946, “before the water came.” The Church branch at the time had 17 people, and the family of seven — Steve was the youngest of five children — brought that number up to 24, he recalled. A few months later, his father was called to be the branch president.
“We raised wheat, we raised corn, we raised sugar beets and grapes — anything that didn’t make money,” Jorgensen said.
As the water projects were completed in the early 1950s, more people moved to the area and the number of Church members grew to several hundred, Jorgensen said. He remembers the bazaars with games for children and dinners the Church members would host to raise money for a building.
After many years of meeting first in a local Presbyterian church and then at a local air base, Church members completed the area’s first meetinghouse in 1951, according to information provided by the Church. In the late 1950s, many young families moved in, Jorgensen said.
Steve Jorgensen studied accounting at Brigham Young University after serving a mission in Scotland. He met his wife, Barbara, who grew up in Provo, Utah, and they married in 1970.
After he graduated and worked as an accountant in Salt Lake City, they moved to Moses Lake in 1973 so he could earn money for law school. They ended up staying and farming.
“We had some good years and some bad years, but we decided to stay,” he said. He was called as a secretary handling the statistics for the Moses Lake Washington Stake, which stretched to the Canadian border and has since been divided several times.
“There are some wonderful people here, and I’ve learned a lot from them. It’s been a grand place to raise a family,” Barbara Jorgensen said. They raised their seven children in Moses Lake.
Going to the temple: ‘From 10½ hours to 10 minutes’
Before the Seattle Washington Temple was dedicated in 1980, Church members in Moses Lake and central Washington would go to the Cardston Alberta Temple — a trip that could take up to 10 hours one way.
Michael Christensen said, “It was a great challenge for my parents and that generation to get to the temple.” They would go after harvest season in November or December when the roads could be snowy. He remembers his parents leaving on Thursday mornings, and they would do work in the temple on Thursday after they arrived, Fridays and Saturdays before coming home.
He learned from his parents the importance of going to the temple and also doing “what it takes to get to the temple.”
As water became available for farming, there was a strong pull from Latter-day Saint communities. “It was with that pioneering spirit, and they brought that with them. And so we’ve had, because of them, a real temple love,” said Christensen, who served as a sealer in the Columbia River Washington Temple.
When the Seattle temple was dedicated, it brought the temple closer. Then, when the Columbia River Washington Temple was dedicated in 2001, it took the Jorgensens about an hour and 15 minutes to get to the temple. Now, with the Moses Lake Washington Temple, it will take about 10 minutes.
“We’ve gone from 10½ hours to 10 minutes,” Jorgensen said of the time it takes to reach the temple. They both served in the Columbia River Washington Temple — he as a sealer and she as coordinator. They also served temple missions in Boston, Massachusetts, and Preston, England.
Wenatchee Washington Stake President Brandon Child wrote in response to questions from the Church News: “Having a temple within a two-hour radius is a first for many members in our stake. A closer temple means more time spent there and also serves as a prominent symbol for those in our community to learn more about our faith. It has provided us with many opportunities to share our beliefs.”
The temple is about a mile from Moses Lake High School, where there is released-time seminary. President Tolley said, “The proximity and visibility of the temple is a continual reminder of the Lord’s standards to enter and participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple.”
Leading up to the open house, seminary students helped connect 4,939 names of individuals in the immediate area to FamilySearch, compiling data and information appearing in the early 20th century U.S. Census materials for Grant County and other county records, he said.
Jane Payne, a seminary instructor, said of the project: “Knowledge about the history of the area in which [our youth] live gives them a sense of community and their place in it. … This project gave the youth an opportunity to give back to God and the people who had the faith and determination to settle this land.”
Othello Washington Stake President Bud L. Wilhelm said: “Attending the temple helps us keep our focus on the Savior and on our covenants. This is certainly true for our youth as well. Having the temple so close will make it easier for our youth to attend regularly and receive the spiritual nourishment they need.”
About the Moses Lake Washington Temple
The single-story temple of approximately 20,000 square feet is on Yonezawa Boulevard between Division Street and Road K NE, across the street from Yonezawa Park. A 17,000-square-foot meetinghouse was built adjacent to the temple on the 17-acre site.
The street the temple is on — Yonezawa Boulevard — is named for Moses Lake’s sister city in Japan, Barbara Jorgensen said. For many years, Japan Airlines had a training center in the city.
The temple’s exterior features a single, central spire made of Branco Cristal stone, a granite quarried in Portugal. The interior design features regional crops, such as potato and alfalfa blossoms, with art glass featuring apple blossoms.
President Nelson announced a house of the Lord for Moses Lake, Washington, during the April 2019 general conference, one of eight temples announced during the closing session. The temple site was identified six months later, and an exterior rendering released a year after the temple’s announcement.
Ground was broken for the Moses Lake temple on Oct. 10, 2020, with Elder David L. Stapleton, an Area Seventy, presiding. The Jorgensens helped organize the groundbreaking and saw many people in the community willing to help out, including with the plants, the grass and preparing the site.
While photos show a day with sunny weather, it stormed the day before and earlier in the day. The weather cleared around the site long enough for the early afternoon groundbreaking “We got brilliant sunshine,” he said. “It was a lovely day and it was beautiful.”
About 45 minutes to an hour after, the rain and wind began again, Steve Jorgensen said.
Nearly 290,000 Latter-day Saints comprising more than 520 congregations reside in Washington.
Moses Lake Washington Temple
Address: 401 E. Yonezawa Blvd., Moses Lake, Washington 28837
Announced: April 7, 2019, by President Russell M. Nelson
Groundbreaking: Oct. 10, 2020, Elder David L. Stapleton, an Area Seventy, presiding
Public open house: Aug. 4-19, 2023, excluding Sundays
Dedication: Sept. 17, 2023, by Elder Quentin L. Cook in two sessions
Property size: 17.2 acres
Building size: 28,933 square feet
Building height: 117 feet, 6 inches, including the spire