On a warm summer morning, Saturday, Aug. 24, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy broke ground for Colorado's second temple — the Fort Collins Colorado Temple.
For more than 25 years, the Denver Colorado Temple has served as a spiritual landmark to the church members throughout the state of Colorado. Now, because of the faithfulness of the members in filling it, another temple will be built in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.
Members, church leaders, civic leaders, community leaders and guests gathered at the 15-acre site where the new temple will be built in Fort Collins, some 57 miles north of Denver. Elder Rasband presided at the groundbreaking ceremonies and offered the dedicatory prayer. Also delivering remarks were Elder Rasband's wife, Melanie T. Rasband, Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and his wife, Vicki V. Walker, and Elder George F. Rhodes, Jr., an Area Seventy for the Northern Colorado Area. The proceedings were also broadcast to chapels and stake centers throughout northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.
"In the heavens and on earth today, what could be a more important event than what we are doing right here in Fort Collins, Colo.?" Elder Rasband asked those gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony. "I'm sure the heavens are smiling upon us and upon the great privilege we have of now dedicating this land to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in redeeming our Father's children."
The Fort Collins temple will serve more than 44,000 members in eight stakes in northern Colorado as well as four stakes in southern Wyoming. In his remarks, Elder Rasband spoke of the multiple purposes the temple. "[This temple] will be a place of prayer and a place of learning. The temple is a place of instruction, a place of revelation and a place where sacred ordinances will be performed."
Elder Rasband explained that through the priesthood authority given to Joseph Smith and held by the living prophet today, ordinances performed in the temple can bind families together for eternity. Drawing from his own personal experience, Elder Rasband said it is through the ordinances found in the temple and the binding of families together, that he and his family take comfort knowing they will see again their 3-year-old grandson, Paxton, who died a little more than a month ago.
Sister Rasband also spoke of Paxton, as well as other family members who have died, including her parents and brother. "I can bear a brief separation because I know I can see them again because of the temple, the House of the Lord. Because of the covenants which have been made there and promises of my Father in Heaven, and through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, it is not only possible, it is true that I will see my ancestors, my parents, and our precious Paxton again," she said.
In closing his address, Elder Rasband encouraged members to watch the progress of the temple's construction. "Make commitments to prepare yourselves, your family members, your neighbors, your fellow members and others, to come to the temple and claim your promised blessings."
Elder Walker, executive director of the Temple Department, who conducted the ceremony, recalled President Thomas S. Monson's participation in the dedication of the Denver temple in 1986, where he presided and conducted the dedicatory sessions of the final two days.
"President Monson has a true love for the Denver temple and he has fond memories of his many visits to your stakes over many years," Elder Walker said. He noted that it was President Monson, upon hearing of the faithfulness of the members in filling the Denver temple, who made the decision to build a temple in Fort Collins.
President Monson announced plans to build a temple in Fort Collins in the April 2011 general conference. The 30,000-square-foot temple structure will be approximately the same size as the Denver temple but will retain its own unique design, Elder Walker explained. As a one-story structure with a prominent central spire, there is no other temple that will look like it, he said. "With the majestic and scenic Rocky Mountains in the background, it will truly be a majestic and beautiful place."
Elder Walker said he hopes those who work on the temple will be able to feel the special spirit surrounding it. "Surely, Heaven will look down on this project. We know it will be a great blessing in the lives of tens of thousands of people."
In turning shovels full of earth to symbolically commence the temple's construction, Elder Rasband was joined by his wife, Melanie; Elder Walker and Sister Walker; Elder Rhodes and his wife, Joan; the 12 stake presidents of the temple district; as well as Colorado state senators, state representatives, city councilmen, city mayors and other state and city officials.
After the dedication services, members of the congregation were also invited to turn the soil at the groundbreaking site.
It is projected that the temple will finish construction in approximately two years.