Temples, including Rome Italy Temple, reflect growth of the Church
The temple in Idaho Falls, Idaho, was dedicated in 1945, when Elder Walker was just a year old. The last temple on the list, the Bern Switzerland Temple, was dedicated in September 1955, just a few months after his Primary president asked the class to memorize the names and locations of the temples. The Los Angeles California Temple, under construction, was dedicated a year later, in 1956, becoming the tenth temple in the Church.
“Each Primary boy and girl was given a poster, about the size of our school notebook paper that had pictures of all the temples in the world,” Elder Walker said. “I hung mine in my bedroom. Imagine how big the poster would have to be today to contain pictures of all 142 temples. Even as Executive Director of the Temple Department, I don’t think I could name all the temples in the Church. Maybe I could if I could look at a map.
“I remember people in the Raymond Ward saying that they had gone to every temple, except the one in Hawaii, during their summer vacation. I don’t think many people could say that today.”
Elder Walker said he has often heard President Monson speak of the remarkable foresight that President Spencer W. Kimball had as he extended the reach of temples throughout the world.
“When President Kimball became President of the Church in 1973, there were only 15 operating temples in the entire world, and the Washington DC Temple was under construction,” Elder Walker said.
During President Kimball’s 12-year administration (1973-1985) the number of temples had grown to 36, with an additional nine under construction or announced. “That was three times the number of temples from the time he became President of the Church,” Elder Walker said.
The great work of building temples continued under the direction of President Kimball’s successors: President Ezra Taft Benson, President Howard W. Hunter and President Gordon B. Hinckley.
“The work of the Lord is rolling forth throughout the earth,” Elder Walker said. “The building of temples has gone forward in a wonderful way under President Monson’s direction. Since becoming President of the Church on Feb. 3, 2008, President Monson has tirelessly crisscrossed the globe in his ministry. Temples have clearly been a very important part of his work and ministry. He has dedicated temples from as far away as Cebu in the Philippines, to Kyiv in Ukraine, and many places in between. Including the announcements one year ago to build temples in Cedar City, Utah, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he has announced plans to build 33 temples.”
On March 2, President Monson dedicated the 142nd temple, the Gilbert Arizona Temple.
“Wherever I go among the Latter-day Saints, within just a few minutes someone asks me about the Rome Italy Temple,” he said.
Then, he noted that each temple — regardless of its geographical location, size, architectural design or its furnishings — is significant. “Each is the house of the Lord,” he said. “And each carries the message that life is eternal, that a loving Heavenly Father has provided a way whereby we may be together forever as families.”