TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Some 1,000 local members of the Church gathered April 15 for the groundbreaking of the Twin Falls Idaho Temple. Presiding and offering the dedicatory prayer was Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Presidency of the Seventy.

"This is a sacred and holy day, a day we will long remember. With the help of many we will build a House of the Lord, a place where He and His Spirit will surely dwell," Elder Andersen told the crowd, including many from the Magic and Wood River Valleys of Idaho.

Other leaders present included Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy, and Area Seventies: Elder Gary W. Walker, Elder Gerald A. Mead, Elder G. Steven Laney and Elder Brent H. Nielson. Presidents from the 14 stakes in the temple district also attended.

The Twin Falls Idaho Temple was announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley during the October 2004 general conference.

In his address, Elder Andersen made reference to the history of southern Idaho, recalling his opportunity to attend the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple as a young man. He referred to the late Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve who grew up in Oakley, Idaho, and who had such treasured memories of the area. Elder Andersen shared excerpts from a talk Elder Haight had given at general conference, including, "My parents went to the Logan Temple in 1890 to be married, a distance of 180 miles and taking about four days by buggy to make the journey."

Elder Andersen continued: "Our children and our children's children will not travel to the Twin Falls temple by buggy, but they, too, will remember their days in the Twin Falls temple. The temple is our solemn testimony to the immortality of the soul. We walk into the house of the Lord to be endowed there as the scripture says to be endowed from on high with power. This work that we commence today is a holy work. It will bless the city. We honor our neighbors, our kind neighbors, who have allowed us to worship as we believe."

In brief remarks, Elder Koelliker thanked the community of Twin Falls and especially the mayor and the city council. "Our hearts are very grateful, and we do express sincere appreciation to the city. The building of temples is almost always a singular event to the community. The temples are visible symbols of our respect and love and reverence for our Heavenly Father. We, therefore, build temples with the finest materials. From this moment on we believe there will be a unique and spiritual feeling on this property."

Elder Koelliker referred to King Benjamin in the Book of Mosiah when he instructed the people to pitch their tents so the doors faced the temple. He advised those attending the groundbreaking ceremony to do likewise "and prepare for the great day of dedication."

"Today, we stand on the shoulders of giants," Elder Nielson said in a brief address, during which he shared some of the history of the Church in South Central Idaho. He related the account of Horton David Haight and his wife Louisa Leavitt Haight. They were children in Nauvoo and knew the Prophet Joseph Smith. They moved with the saints to Winter Quarters and then to Salt Lake City where Horton David and Louisa married as young adults. Horton David was a wagon master and made 14 trips from Salt Lake to Winter Quarters to assist the saints as they traveled west.

When Horton David was 50 and Louisa 47 they were called by President Brigham Young to move permanently to Oakley, Idaho, and establish the Church there. Elder Nielson related that Louisa, who is his great-grandmother, although willing to go, "cried all the way to Oakley."

Horton David served as the bishop in Oakley and in 1887 was called by Elder John Taylor as the first stake president in south central Idaho. This new stake comprised most of south central Idaho and even included a branch in Boise. Elder Nielson concluded his remarks by saying, "Perhaps the Lord in His tender mercies will allow them (the early saints) to linger near as we dedicate this ground to the building of a temple."

After Elder Andersen offered the dedicatory prayer, all present, including children, joined in breaking ground for the temple.