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Marianne Holman Prescott
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, during the cornerstone ceremony of the Meridian Idaho Temple dedication on Nov. 19.

MERIDIAN, Idaho

In the Treasure Valley in southwest Idaho runs the Boise Principal Meridian, a longitudinal line that marks the initial point from which other measurements are governed. Established by early Idaho surveyors, the line runs true north with no variation.

Like the geographical line, the Church’s 158th temple — built near the Boise Principal Meridian — has been dedicated and now stands as the fixed point from which the people living in the Meridian Idaho Temple district can find their spiritual bearings.

“I read in the maps and in the records that this is the Treasure Valley — it is truly a wonderful place to have a treasure like the house of the Lord placed in its midst,” said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, during the cornerstone ceremony. “With this jewel placed right here in Meridian, a wonderful piece of His creation has been added.”

Members gathered to the grounds of the temple and in Church buildings throughout Idaho on Nov. 19 to participate in the dedicatory services of Idaho’s fifth temple. During the first of three dedicatory sessions, President Uchtdorf, along with Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders participated in a cornerstone ceremony.

Recognizing the name of the city after which the temple is named, President Uchtdorf spoke of the eternal meridian found in the temple. A former pilot by profession, President Uchtdorf noted, “Meridians have a lot to do with navigation — they make sure that you are following the right path in life.”

The temple is part of a “celestial navigation” in which a person is able to direct his or her attention to things outside of this earthly sphere.

“The house of the Lord and its values … stand in such a wonderful spot in our life, … where we can focus our celestial navigation way beyond this life,” he said. That focus comes from the “values and purpose and everything given to us by the Lord through the House of the Lord.”

During the first session, President Uchtdorf, Elder Christofferson and other Church leaders applied mortar to the cornerstone in the temple. During the symbolic ceremony, a choir performed and President Uchtdorf invited a few people in attendance — including children — to join him on the podium to apply mortar to the cornerstone.

“I got to put the [mortar] in the temple and shake President Uchtdorf’s hand,” said Miri Christensen, 9. “I am going to write in my journal that I got to shake his hand.”

For Lynda Wells, a member of the cornerstone ceremony choir, a highlight of the dedication was her view of the temple.

“It was such a wonderful thing to look at the temple while singing,” said Wells. “Even though we have the Boise temple nearby, the Lord wanted a temple here. We can feel the difference in the community.”

For Tiffany Smith, being at the temple for the cornerstone ceremony with her husband and six daughters was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“It was great to be here together as a family,” she said. “Our youngest kids aren’t old enough to be in a session, so it was neat to be here for the cornerstone ceremony. I hope they remember how important the temple is and that it is their goal.”

Located only 8.8 miles away from the Boise Idaho Temple, the new edifice comes to the area at a time of rapid growth.

“I’ve lived in five stakes and never moved,” said Hal Bunderson, a longtime resident of Meridian. He said that in his 39 years living in the area, he has seen the population go from 3,500 to close to 100,000 people.

The Meridian area alone is home to eight stakes, 63 congregations and more than 27,000 members of the Church.

For members of the Church young and old, the dedication was a day of celebration, and “just the beginning.”

“In just a few short months I will get to go through for my endowment,” said Maxwell Christensen, 17. “Until then I can go every week to do baptisms.”

The more than 67,000-square-foot building stands on nearly 16 acres of land and is the shortest temple-to-temple distance outside of Utah. Its prairie style design features horizontal lines and an octagonal cupola cap. The windows include a seed element at the base with stems leading up the wall to a lily-like flower blossoming at the top. The interior of the temple includes 10 original paintings in addition to commissioned murals depicting the local landscape.

The temple was announced in the April 2011 general conference by President Thomas S. Monson. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Aug. 23, 2014.

Joining President Uchtdorf for the dedication was his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf; Elder Christofferson and his wife, Sister Katherine Christofferson; Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Rosana M. Soares; Elder Edward Dube, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Naume Dube; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Nancy Duncan; and Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé and his wife, Sister Valerie Caussé.

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