Mark left on temples, ordinances

Leader had the most dedications and reshaped the ceremony

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2008 12:00 a.m. MST

When President Gordon B. Hinckley went through the Salt Lake Temple for his endowment in June 1933 before he left on his LDS mission to England, little did he realize the impact he'd have later in life on furthering temple work — the number of temples, the variety of temples and the ceremonies conducted in them.

"I think President Hinckley will be remembered as the builder of temples in the dispensation of the fulness of times," Elder David E. Sorensen, then of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the church Temple Department, said in 1999.

When President Hinckley was born the LDS Church had four operating temples. When he became church president there were 47 temples around the world. Today there are 124.

He dedicated more temples — 85 — than any other general authority in the history of the church. He also rededicated five others after remodeling projects.

Several were built (or, in the case of Nauvoo, rebuilt) in historic locations, including the Palmyra New York, Winter Quarters Nebraska and Nauvoo Illinois temples.

In an assignment from President David O. McKay, he shaped the ceremony to accommodate the growing number of languages spoken by church members.

As church president, he presented a plan to build smaller temples in remote areasso as many church members as possible could receive their temple blessings closer to their homes; 30 such temples were announced at the April 1998 general conference alone.

President Hinckley believed in the vital importance of temples and the ordinances conducted in them.

"Every temple that this church has built has in effect stood as a monument to our belief in the immortality of the human soul, that this phase of mortal life through which we pass is part of a continuous upward climb, so to speak. And that as certain as there is life here, there will be life there," he said in a 1999 interview.

The temple, he said, "is concerned with things of immortality," in particular the eternity of the family.

"All of the ordinances which take place in the house of the Lord become expressions of our belief in that fundamental and basic doctrine," he said."The temple, therefore, becomes the ultimate in our system of worship. And, therefore, is of great and significant importance to us."

President Hinckley had a significant role in the proliferation of temples around the world.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, when Presidents Spencer W. Kimball and Marion G. Romney and later Ezra Taft Benson were unable to travel, he presided at the dedications of 22 temples and offered dedicatory prayers. This began in 1983 with the Atlanta Temple and continued throughout his tenure as church president, beginning with the May 1996 dedication of the Hong Kong Temple.

One interruption came in November 1999 when the Halifax Nova Scotia and Regina Saskatchewan temples were scheduled to be dedicated on consecutive days. President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, ended up dedicating the Regina Temple after President Hinckley's plane developed trouble before leaving Salt Lake City.

President James E. Faust dedicated two temples in Mexico in March 2000, and President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the Louisville Kentucky Temple two weeks before general conference. These two counselors later dedicated other temples. The accelerated dedication schedule — 34 temples were dedicated in 2000 alone — made it necessary to dedicate two temples on the same day in April and May 2000. Members of the First Presidency divided the assignments.

A highlight came in June 2000 when President Hinckley dedicated the Fukuoka Japan, Adelaide and Melbourne Australia temples as well as the Suva Fiji Temple on the same trip.

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