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Deseret News Archives,
Saturday, March 6, 1999
Ground is broken for temple
in Canada, 'a monument of faith'
By R. Scott Lloyd Church News
-- In a crowded stake center and in proceedings carried by audio feed to
19 other locations in northern Alberta and part of British Columbia, Elder
Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Seventy presided over the Feb. 27 groundbreaking
for the Edmonton Alberta Temple.
"This is a monument
of your faith, and Heavenly Father truly has answered your prayers," declared
Elder Kikuchi, second counselor in the North America Central Area presidency,
regarding the temple, which is being constructed to the west of the Edmonton
Alberta Riverbend Stake Center.
temple, with its gold-leafed Angel Moroni statue rising 80 feet above ground
level, will have prominent visibility to motorists on the adjacent Whitemud
An estimated 3,500
people witnessed the service. They included those who filled the stake
center chapel and cultural hall and others linked by audio feed in the
Edmonton Millwoods, Edmonton Bonnie Doon and Grande Prairie stake centers.
The feed was also carried to meetinghouses in Cherry Grove, Fort McMurray,
St. Paul, Athabasca, Lloydminster, Vermillion, Wainwright, Drayton Valley,
Devon, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Fairview, Hinton, Edson, White Court
and Slave Lake.
A video tape of the
service was shown later in the day to members of the Red Deer Alberta Stake.
Those locations are
all in the five-stake temple district.
With such a large
and far-flung congregation, only a representative 300 people could be invited
to come out to the site where the ground was broken. The congregation seated
in the stake center saw the groundbreaking by video feed, while an announcer
narrated it for those in other meetinghouses who were listening via audio
Elder Kikuchi and
Elder Blair S. Bennett, Area Authority Seventy, turned the first shovelsful
of soil. They were followed by a group composed of the five stake presidents
in the temple district and the president of the Calgary Alberta East stake
who represented the five stakes in the Calgary area.
The third group to
wield the gold-colored shovels consisted of city, provincial and federal
dignitaries including Edmonton Mayor Bill Smith; Ian McClelland, Rahim
Jaffer and Jack Ramsay, members of Parliament; and Albert Klapstein of
the Provincial Legislature. They were followed by groups consisting of
long-time residents and recent converts in the area; young-married couples
and Primary children; and youth.
In remarks given
in the chapel, Elder Kikuchi said: "The temple is a place to know our Heavenly
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. . . . I testify to you as we walk with
clean hands, clean minds and clean hearts, you and I will feel the most
celestial, profound feelings there, a feeling of His love and a celestial
glow, a celestial tranquility which you can never acquire anywhere else
in the world."
He added that the
temple is the place where Heavenly Father's children can, will, and must
receive the essential and sacred ordinances to return to His presence.
"The temple is a
place to learn the great plan of our Heavenly Father," he said. "This is
a place for our thanksgiving, for instruction, for understanding the mystery
of God and also our ministry in the Kingdom of God, God's theory, God's
principle, God's doctrine."
Those who go to the
temple will be armed with God's holy power, Elder Kikuchi declared, citing
a prophecy and prayer of Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple.
In his talk, Elder
Bennett separately addressed three groups whom he called the "pioneers,"
the "builders" and "our future."
To the first group,
"those faithful brothers and sisters who were present when our members
here were less than 100," he said: "It is because of your commitment and
your unwavering devotion to magnifying your callings that our numbers have
swelled . . . . We truly stand on your shoulders today."
To the "builders"
or stake missionaries, he said: "The construction of a temple in Edmonton
will provide you with significant opportunities to open your mouths. May
the Lord bless you as you magnify your callings. And now, go forth and
And to "the future,"
the children or "youth of the noble birthright," he said: "The Edmonton
temple will serve as a beacon, a guiding light in your lives. Plan your
futures around this holy edifice. It is our desire that you establish ownership
of the temple in your lives."
LeRoy Rollins, who
was the first stake president in Edmonton, gave a historic overview of
local Church history. He spoke of the Gordon family of six, the first Church
members to live in the area as they undertook a government contract in
1914 but who stayed only two years and then moved south.
He said that in the
1920s, university students and government employees who were Church members
came, though no records were kept of their meetings, so the first recorded
meeting was Feb. 26, 1933, at the Alph and Mabel Strate home. This small
group soon became a branch of the Lethbridge Stake.
"About 1935, N. Eldon
Tanner and Solon E. Low came with their families, effectively doubling
the membership of the Latter-day Saints in Edmonton," Brother Rollins said.
"N. Eldon Tanner [later a counselor in the First Presidency] became a highly
loved and respected leader of the Saints here, standing in that position
of leadership for the next 16 years. . . .
"I had the privilege
as a young school teacher of attending the branch in those years. In my
first trip to Edmonton I was impressed with how I was welcomed by Pres.
Tanner, how he reflected a spirit of love, how he gave me a sense of being
needed and how he recognized my personal worth."
Brother Rollins recalled
that members by 1943 grew tired of cleaning up beer bottles and other debris
in rented halls so that services could be held. Through their sacrifice,
a building was finally dedicated on White Avenue in 1951 by President Stephen
L Richards of the First Presidency that is still in use today.
The branch was divided,
and by May 19, 1953, the Western Canadian Mission was formed. The Edmonton
Stake was organized on Nov. 15, 1960.
"Over the 12 years
that I had the privilege of being stake president, the membership doubled
to 16 wards and branches," Brother Rollins noted. "It's interesting that
the Church grew from 2 million in 1960 to 10 million now, five times [the
size in 1960]. This area [Edmonton] grew from roughly 2,000 of then to
the 15,000 of now, which is 7 1/2 times. For this we should be grateful."
A combined choir
from the Red Deer, Bonnie Doon, Millwoods and Riverbend stakes provided
music under the direction of Maureen Williams and accompanied by Tammy
Even before the groundbreaking,
site work had commenced; the level was already several feet below the usual
grade, and pilings were already installed. Binder Construction in Alberta
is the contractor.
The temple will be
the second in Alberta and will eliminate the need for Church members to
drive many miles south to Cardston for temple sessions.
Deseret News Publishing Co.