The gleaming white San Diego California Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dedicated Sunday morning by President Gordon B. Hinckley, who said the sacred edifice stands as a "testimony that life is eternal, that it is everlasting."

Located in suburban La Jolla, some 15 miles north of San Diego, the temple is the 45th operating temple of the church.With its unique design, characterized by two towering spires jutting high into the sky, the temple is a striking sight. Built on seven acres adjacent to I-5, the main thoroughfare between San Diego and Los Angeles, the temple dominates the landscape, both in beauty and in unusual architecture.

In his address prior to offering the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, said: "This is a beautiful building. But I would like to emphasize that it is not the architecture of the temple that is significant, nor is its appearance. The significant thing about this temple is the ordinances of the gospel that will be administered here."

The ordinances, he explained, deal with "the things of eternity. There would be no purpose to build temples, if there was no immortality."

Participating with President Hinckley in the two Sunday morning sessions was President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency. President Monson also participated with President Ezra Taft Benson at the groundbreaking ceremony of the temple in February 1988.

In his address Sunday, President Monson referred to comments made by the church president when he turned over the first shovelful of sod at that ceremony:

"As a consequence of this temple coming to this area, faith will increase, and this area will be blessed," President Monson quoted President Benson as saying. "Our families will be protected, and our children safeguarded as we live the gospel, visit the temple and live close to the Lord."

President Monson added, "I believe the fulfillment of that prophetic statement has been made manifested."

He continued, "We marvel at the beauty of the temple. It is a worthy building, but as beautiful as it is, it is the brothers and sisters who come here who comprise the greatest beauty of all."

President Hinckley offered the dedicatory prayer in the first of 23 sessions. Three of the sessions were held Sunday, including two for Mexican members of the church living in Baja California and northern Mexico. These areas are in the San Diego temple district. A total of 5,811 people attended the first three sessions. The dedicatory sessions continue through Friday, with four sessions to be held each day. About 2,000 people are expected at each session.

Other general authorities and officers of the church participating in the Sunday sessions were: President Howard W. Hunter, Elder Boyd K. Packer, Elder David B. Haight and Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve; Elder Dean L. Larsen, Elder Jack H. Goaslind and Elder H. Burke Peterson of the Seventy; and Jeanette C. Hales, general president of the Young Women of the church.

Additional general authorities will participate in subsequent sessions during the week.

Prior to the first session, President Hinckley and President Monson officiated at the cornerstone-laying ceremony, which sealed, in the southeast corner, a copper box containing various items of significance to the temple and the members living in the temple district, which also includes San Diego, Imperial, Orange and Riverside counties, was placed.

Among items in the cornerstone box were the names of all 10,668 Primary children who live in the temple district and a list of all charitable acts performed by women of the 27 stakes of the district during the Relief Society sesquicentennial in 1992.

The dedication of the temple followed a six-week open house in which 700,000 people, including California Gov. Pete Wilson, toured the temple.