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President Monson dedicates 13th Utah temple

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A temple dedication, a cornerstone ceremony and an impromptu birthday celebration converged Friday morning at the new Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple.President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stood front and center for all three.The several hundred onlookers who witnessed the cornerstone ceremony serenaded President Monson with a spontaneous rendition of "Happy Birthday." President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, added the well-known, sing-song ending "— and many more.""That's what I'm listening to hear," grinned President Monson.For Friday morning's first of nine dedication sessions this weekend, President Monson presided over the proceedings and offered the dedicatory prayer for what becomes the LDS Church's 130th operating temple worldwide and the 13th in Utah.For the cornerstone ceremony, he left the members-only morning session inside the temple and led church leaders and invited guests to the temple's southeast cornerstone.Representing the final act of construction of the temple, the cornerstone ceremony symbolized the Apostle Paul's New Testament analogy of Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone of the true church with apostles and prophets as its foundation.After the brief interlude, President Monson and others returned inside to complete the initial session before a capacity crowd seated in 1,578 chairs spread throughout the edifice.While the sessions' focus is the importance and purpose of LDS temples, the cornerstone ceremony — conducted only with the first session — is the sole public moment of the dedication services.President Monson directed the outdoor ceremony, was the first to place mortar around the cover stone — cut from the cornerstone's surface — and served as a master of ceremonies of sorts with running commentary and quips.And it didn't take long for President Monson's birthday — he turned 82 Friday — to make its way into the proceedings. He acknowledged a young boy holding a "Happy Birthday" sign and invited him to be one of the half-dozen children to assist at the cornerstone.The second-year LDS president-prophet added a lighter touch to the cornerstone ceremony, beginning with a mock knighting ceremony by tapping an assistant prepping the mortar on the shoulders with a trowel."How's that for a start," he asked the onlookers.And the quips kept coming."I'm not a professional — and all I need to prove to you is to have you look at my work," he said in advance of his mortar work , then adding he would call on others to do the same "and you won't do any better than I will."On President Uchtdorf's effort, he said, "For an airline pilot, that's perfect." He also kidded Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve. "He's a lawyer," President Monson said. "He can't even get steady."With handshakes and high fives, he greeted several children called from the onlookers to take a turn with the trowel, continuing with his lighter-touch commentary.After what was to be a concluding hymn provided by a choir present, President Monson called up a couple more young people to the cornerstone and then offered a wave and a "bye-bye" before returning back inside the temple to resume the dedication session.But not without sharing a few more tender handshakes and embraces to onlookers lining the temple walkway.Others participating included President Uchtdorf's his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf; Elder Oaks's wife, Sister Kristen Oaks; Elder William R. Walker of the Quorums of the Seventy and executive director of the church's Temple Department, and the new temple's first president and matron, President Alan S. Layton and Sister Leslie Layton.Sister Frances Monson, President Monson's wife, attended the dedication service but remained inside during the cornerstone ceremony.



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