Mark left on temples, ordinances
Leader had the most dedications and reshaped the ceremony
Each dedication reflected the unique customs and circumstances of the land or area, but the spirit was always the same profound and penetrating. And, for various reasons, each dedication was memorable.
Regarding the temple ceremony, President Hinckley, in a 1995 video biography, told of being called into President McKay's office in fall 1953 and learning that the church was going to build a temple in Switzerland, just north of Bern a temple of a different kind.
"It would need to accommodate the languages of Europe and, at the same time, require fewer personnel to operate," President Hinckley said.
"I want you to find a way to present the temple ceremony to accommodate this need," President McKay told President Hinckley.
"Having received that charge, I went to work and gathered a group about me of trusted, able, competent people to see what could be done. ... For the next year and a half, we worked on it. And that was the pioneering effort of what has now become the general method of presenting the temple ceremony," President Hinckley said.
"We produced the first films, and I carried those to Switzerland in September of 1955 to initiate the work in the Swiss Temple."
Derek F. Metcalfe, former managing director of the church's temple department, said: "When he arrived at the Swiss Temple to help prepare for the dedication, he found that the finishing carpenters were behind schedule. So, he borrowed some work clothes, picked up a hammer and saw and went to work.
"It was an exciting time in temple work, with a new and efficient means of presenting the endowment, and Brother Hinckley was at the forefront of all that.Initiating it, producing it, installing it all under the direction of the First Presidency."
At the time, President Hinckley oversaw the production of the temple ceremony in 14 languages and personally supervised its installation in the New Zealand, London and Los Angeles temples.
President Hinckley also took a keen interest in each temple's design and construction, making sure each one had a celestial reach in its design and that the interiors created the desired atmospheres. He also scouted for property personally, climbing to the tops of hills and walking across sites before finalizing a location.Another of President Hinckley's focuses was the urgency he felt to build more and smaller temples in an effort to take them to the people. As a member of the First Presidency, he found himself participating in the fulfillment of the mandate to take the blessings of the temple to every worthy man and woman.
He maintained this responsibility over selection of temple sites and matters related to the temple even after becoming church president. One "first" came in May 1995, when Presidents Hinckley and James E. Faust presided at the "groundbreaking" of the Vernal Temple, the first temple to be constructed from an existing building. And it was not uncommon for President Hinckley to make overnight trips to inspect potential temple sites.
To help temple work move forward, CD-ROM software and Internet links were introduced to assist in family history research. And today it is possible to take a computer disk or disks to the Family History Library to be updated with information on ordinances performed in any temple less than a week before.
Another development was the issuance of cards for individual names for family file ordinances. The cards contained fields for each ordinance, and a field was stamped with the date and temple where the ordinance was performed, with the information entered in a database. Templegoers visiting a number of temples on vacation trips, for instance, can have family file work available as they visit each temple.
And those processing names through TempleReady could find out quickly if ordinances had been performed in other temples for their name submissions.
Material taken from Deseret Morning News files and "Gordon B. Hinckley Go Forward with Faith," by Sheri L. Dew
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