Church breaks temple ground The Mormon facility in Rancho Cordova will be the seventh in California.
By Laurel Rosen -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PDT Monday, August 23, 2004
If his human spokesman provides an accurate representation, God must have a good sense of humor.
Gordon B. Hinckley, the 94-year-old man Mormons call their "prophet, seer and revelator," was in Rancho Cordova on Sunday afternoon to dedicate a new Mormon temple. Along with his prayers, he made a few jokes.
"We ordinarily don't break ground for a temple on the Sabbath day," Hinckley said. "I hope the ground is soft, so we don't have to labor on the Sabbath."
The comment spawned a wave of laughter from the 2,000 people gathered in the Mormon Center, adjacent to the land where a 17,000-square-foot temple is to be built.
Once it's completed in about a year and a half, the Sacramento California Temple will be the seventh Mormon temple in the state, making California second only to Utah in the number of Mormon temples. The temple will probably become the 123rd Mormon temple in the world, Hinckley said, "depending on how conscientious the contractor is."
More giggles from the crowd.
Mormon temples are sacred spaces used for certain religious ceremonies, but not for routine worship. For day-to-day church activities and prayer, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go to a meetinghouse in their neighborhood.
But for ceremonies in which Mormons baptize dead family members, or seal their marriages for time beyond life on earth, they must attend a sacred temple. The closest one is in Oakland, and some people at Sunday's groundbreaking said the commute has been a deterrent.
"The traffic is terrible," said Tona Wood of Fair Oaks.
"Living six minutes away (from the new temple), I won't have any excuse not to be here as often as possible."
For now, Wood travels to the temple in Oakland about once a month. It's worth the trip, she said, because inside the temple, "You feel like you're next to heaven. A peaceful, loving feeling comes over you, and you feel like you're next to the angels."
Only the most devout Mormons are allowed to enter temples. In order to be granted entry, they must come recommended by a church leader.
Church officials say they have about 80,000 followers from Stockton to Red Bluff - the area expected to use the new temple - and many were watching Sunday's groundbreaking on satellite feeds in their neighborhood meetinghouses.
Eric Hill, who traveled from Monterey to join his Citrus Heights parents at Sunday's dedication, said the new temple reflects the region's growing number of Mormon believers.
"It acts as a symbol of the strength of the Mormon Church in the area," Hill said. "It's a unifying symbol for all of us."
After a ceremony of singing, prayer and speeches in the chapel of the Mormon Center, church leaders followed Hinckley, president of the church, outside for the groundbreaking. Local Mormon politicians - including Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, and F.C. "Rocky" Rockholm, the mayor of Roseville - stood before a row of golden shovels.
Hinckley grabbed one, took a look at the tilled earth and remarked: "The ground has been broken up, so we won't break the Sabbath if we take a shovel to it."
Once again, the prophet's followers broke into laughter.