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Church, Scout leaders break ground on Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex

SUMMIT BECHTEL RESERVE, West Virginia —

President Thomas S. Monson has alway called Salt Lake City home. But his lifelong dedication and service to youth and Scouting ensures his name will be forever honored and remembered on the opposite side of the country.

On Wednesday, leaders from the Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered here at the home of Scouting's national jamboree for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex.

”This is a very significant moment for the Boy Scouts of America — it's a very significant moment for the youth of the nation,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. “We're thrilled to be here to commemorate the name of Thomas S. Monson, the name that will be put on this leadership excellence complex.”

Elder Holland serves simultaneously on the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and on Scouting's National Executive Board. Over the past several decades, he's been a first-hand witness of President Monson's ecclesiastical and Scouting leadership.

“I know of no one in my adult leadership — in either civic or church related activity — who has given more of his life to young people than has Thomas S. Monson,” he said prior to Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony on a forested ridge inside the 14,000-acre Scout reserve.

President Monson was unable to attend the ceremony, but did record a short video that was broadcast at the event.

“I am deeply honored that my name will be a part of the Leadership Excellence Complex at the Boy Scouts of America Summit Bechtel Reserve,” he said. “The need for strong, capable leadership is critical today, both in Scouting and in the world generally. To be associated in some small way with developing such leadership is humbling indeed.”

Wednesday's ground breaking, he added, doubles as a reminder of “the need to provide solid foundations upon which our youth can build their lives and serve God, country and their fellow men.”

Expected to be completed in 2020, the complex will provide leadership training for thousands of Scout leaders, Boy Scouts and other youth. It will include four buildings and structures named for American business leaders and Scouting supporters: Rex Tillerson, J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., John D. Tickle and Philip M. Condit.

“There is no better place to teach [Scouts] than at the home of the BSA National Jamboree: the Summit Bechtel Reserve,” said former BSA president Wayne Perry, who conducted Wednesday's events.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Elder Holland said all who gather at the future leadership complex will leave better prepared to teach others.

“They will teach the verities of the Scout Law and they will live by the oath every Scout utters. And wherever those principles are taught, not only will the name of Thomas S. Monson be honored, but the title of 'Boy Scout' will continue to mean clean living, service to one’s community and an upward reach toward the highest and noblest motives planted in the human soul.”

The groundbreaking prayer was offered by Baptist minister Chip Turner.

At a luncheon following the groundbreaking, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of President Monson's lifelong commitment to his “Scout duty.”

“President Monson knows better than anyone I know that the joy of true leadership is to give all you have to bless and lift others,” he said.

The Church president's leadership, he added, continues to benefit the people he serves.

jswensen@deseretnews.com @JNSwensen