Apostles on two continents dedicated three temples Sunday, making it an historic day for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It is the first time the church has had three temples dedicated in a single day. The three become the 180th, 181st and 182nd operating temples for the church, which is in its 194th year.
The apostles said the temples represent Jesus Christ, his gospel and gathering Israel.
“The temple is a blessing and a gift and prepares us to rejoice in what the Savior has done for us,” Elder Cook said, according to the Church News.
“How grateful we should be to live in this remarkable season of the latter-day dispensation of the fullness of times. We are blessed to witness and participate in the ongoing fulfillment of prophecies that holy houses of the Lord will dot the earth,” Elder Bednar said, according to the Church News.
The church is in the midst of a temple-building boom, with 48 temples under construction and plans announced for an additional 85.
“As a 12-year-old boy in 1964, I attended with my mother the dedication of the Oakland California Temple — the 13th operating house of the Lord,” Elder Bednar said. “Today, just 59 years later, 315 temples are functioning, announced, in design, under construction or being renovated.”
President Russell M. Nelson has announced 133 of those temples over the past 65 months. He announced the Bentonville and Moses Lake temples in 2019.
Prior to Sunday, the church had dedicated two temples on a single day five times — once in 1999, three times in 2000 and again on Nov. 20, 2022.
Which temples will be dedicated next?
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Three weeks from now, two temples will be dedicated on one day, on Oct. 8:
Four more temples are scheduled for dedication:
Bentonville Arkansas Temple dedication
The Bentonville temple dedication was a homecoming for Elder Bednar and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar. They lived in the area with their three sons in the 1980s and 1990s, when Elder Bednar worked at the University of Arkansas as a professor of business management, associate dean for graduate studies and director of the Management Decision-Making Lab at what is now called the Sam Walton College of Business.
Bentonville is the headquarters of Walmart, which Walton and his brother founded in 1962.
President Nelson assigned Elder Bednar to the November 2020 groundbreaking for the Bentonville temple, to preside over the temple’s media day that launched the public open house in June and to dedicate the temple on Sunday.
Elder Bednar said temples are part of the fundamental responsibility of Latter-day Saints, the Church News reported.
“Gathering Israel is the most important work in which any of us can be engaged. And the covenants received and the ordinances performed in the house of the Lord are central to the work of gathering,” he said.
“We are to assist in the gathering of Israel by inviting all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings available in His holy house, have enduring joy and qualify for eternal life.”
Elder Bednar said each new temple is a source of joy for Latter-day Saints.
“Our primary focus should be on the covenants and ordinances that can change our hearts and deepen our devotion to the Savior and not simply on the location or beauty of the building,” he said.
Moses Lake Washington Temple dedication
Elder Cook previously served as president of the church’s North America Northwest Area, which included Washington state. He also participated with the late President Gordon B. Hinckley at the dedication of the Columbia River Washington Temple, in 2001.
Elder Cook quoted President Nelson’s 2018 invitation to Latter-day Saints to increase the time they spend at temples.
“Building and maintaining temples may not change your life, but spending your time in the temple surely will,” President Nelson said.
“Our need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater,” President Nelson added. “I plead with you to take a prayerful look at how you spend your time. Invest time in your future and in that of your family. If you have reasonable access to a temple, I urge you to find a way to make an appointment regularly with the Lord — to be in his holy house — then keep that appointment with exactness and joy.”
Brasília Brazil Temple dedication
Elder Andersen also has strong ties to Brazil, where he served as Brazil South Area president for the church 20 years ago. He has been back many times on church assignments. Earlier this year, he and Sister Kathy Andersen visited the Brasília temple and met with Brazil’s first lady, Rosângela Lula da Silva.
Brasília was created in 1956 specifically to be Brazil’s capital. The Brasília temple will be the church’s 10th in the country, which now is home to nearly 1.5 million Latter-day Saints. An additional 10 temples in Brazil have been announced or are under construction.