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Early temple builders knew hardship, gratitude

Costs to erect temples small compared with Savior’s sacrifice

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Accounts are many from the early days of the Church about the sacrifices members made to build temples. Speaking during the April 1993 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley said of such sacrifice: "The heaviest price of all was paid by the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He gave His life on Calvary's cross for the sins of all mankind. Because of that gift, all are assured the blessings of the resurrection. And further, because of that gift, there may be eternal life and exaltation in our Father's kingdom if we make the effort to gain it.

"In comparison with the immensity of the Savior's sacrifice and the consequences of His atonement, the price to erect these sacred temples is small indeed."

President Hinckley, then first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the efforts of the early members to build the Salt Lake Temple and their tremendous gratitude at its completion in April 1893.

"I stand in reverent appreciation and gratitude for this singular accomplishment." he said. "All of this was done in the days of the poverty of our people. We have since built and dedicated 41 additional temples, every one a classic in its own right. (There are now 106 temples in operation.) We have been blessed with the means to do all of this. These means have come of the dedicated consecrations of our people. Every one of these buildings is sacred. Every one contains the inscription found on the east wall of the Salt Lake Temple: 'Holiness to the Lord — the House of the Lord.' Every one has been dedicated for the same purpose, to assist in accomplishing the divine work of God our Eternal Father, who declared: 'This is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.' (Moses 1:39.)

"We have been criticized for the cost of these structures, a cost which results from the exceptional quality of the workmanship and the materials that go into them. Those who criticize do not understand that these houses are dedicated as the abode of Deity and, as Brigham Young stated, are to stand through the Millennium.

"To me it is significant that the Salt Lake Temple, built in pioneer times, is the largest we have ever built regardless of our circumstances. Our architects say that it contains 253,000 square feet. By comparison, the beautiful Los Angeles California Temple contains 190,000. The Washington D.C. Temple, which is seen by hundreds of thousands who drive the beltway, contains 160,000. I think that our people have never in all of our history undertaken nor completed a building of such magnitude, complexity of design and artistic excellence as the structure we today honor on the centennial of its dedication.

"But why all of this effort centered in one building, and why all of this labor to build others to serve the same purposes? It is then as it is now. Those purposes, for they are several in number, are set forth in words of revealed truth. Listen to a few lines from the dedicatory prayer offered at the Kirtland Temple in 1836, language which the Prophet Joseph said came by revelation:

" 'And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have a charge over them.' " (Doctrine and Covenants 109:22.)

Speaking of the "eternal plan made possible by the sacrifice of the Redeemer," President Hinckley said: "This is why those of an earlier generation struggled so hard with such tremendous faith to build a house worthy to be dedicated to God our Eternal Father and His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ."