Vancouver Temple Dedication, May 2, 2010
By President and Sister Middleton
As all of our missionaries and the Church members in British Columbia know, it was announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley on May 25, 2006, that the Church was to build a Vancouver Temple. Receiving word on that Friday through a cell phone call from Elder Ronald Rasband, permission was given to share the wonderful news with BC members. The choice of the site in Langley had been revealed to President Hinckley in December 2005 during a visit to BC while he and President Monson were driven around Vancouver by Elder Paul Christensen, then President of the Abbottsford Stake, and now an Area Authority Seventy. When we learned of the Temple announcement in 2006, we sent an e-mail to BC Church leaders letting them know, and word spread almost instantaneously to all active members. The long-anticipated announcement became the topic of nearly all the Fast and Testimony Meeting testimonies borne in British Columbia wards and branches two days later.
In the summer of 2007, the groundbreaking in Langley occurred, and the temple building began. The Temple Open House was held in the weeks before the Dedication, and was attended by thousands of people of other faiths. We were privileged to travel back to Canada for the Dedication, where we joined with 6 previous mission presidents and their wives to witness this historic event.
On Saturday, May 1, 2010, a Cultural Celebration featuring over 1200 BC youth bussed in from all over the province and from northern Washington state performed at the Langley Events Centre, a large arena near the Temple which accommodated thousands of visitors and saints. The theme was a celebration of the history of the Church in BC, portrayed in song and dance. Sister Shelley Murley composed the music and served as director of the cultural event. Prior to the event, President Monson had all the youth sit on the floor of the centre in front of him, and he told them of his love for Canada and recalled fondly his days as a mission president in Canada years before. He changed the opening song to “O Canada,” to the delight of all, and during his talk he had President Uchtdorf press a button on his lapel pin which proved to be a lighted flashing Canadian flag. He urged the youth during his talk to stand for their beliefs, promising them that if they did so they would not lose friends, but rather would gain new friends.
Titled “A Beacon to the World,” the program began when 172 saints who were pioneers in the area were led onto the floor by young men and women for recognition. The remainder of the program celebrated the coming of people from numerous countries to the province, where they learned of and joined the Church. The final scene featured a large replica of the Vancouver Temple which lay flat on the floor initially, and was gradually raised to its full height as the youth sang and circled around it. The temple replica had been crafted and built by Elder Paul Christensen and his brother. As the youth encircled the temple, they joined hands, representing the eternal nature of the building where families are enjoined forever.
The Dedication occurred the next day, on May 2, 2010, with President Thomas S. Monson giving the dedicatory prayer in three sessions. His prayer was beautiful, and was truly an answer to the collective prayers of the British Columbia saints over many decades. As we contemplated the hard work of all of our missionaries which led to the growth of the Church which made this temple possible, we were filled with gratitude for all the work that each of our missionaries had accomplished as together we worked in the service of the Lord. We wished that each of you could have been there with us.
Know that our prayers are with each of you every day, that the Lord will continue to bless you and us as He did in our time together in British Columbia. We miss you and love you, and are delighted to learn of your marriages, your successes in school and work, and of your continued service to the Lord in a variety of callings. Please keep us posted as to what you are doing.