[photopress:lv_temple_1108.jpg,thumb,pp_style]by Pam Ellis
There was a time, not so very long ago, that faithful Latter-day Saints traveled to St. George to go to the Temple. Some even served there as ordinance workers. It was a sacrifice, but a sacrifice given freely. Then in 1984, it was announced Las Vegas would be getting its own temple, which was dedicated on December 16-18, 1989.
The Saints in Las Vegas flocked to the Temple. It was customary to see between 1200 and 1700 endowments in a single day. The work was moving forward at an exhilarating and rewarding speed. The counsel of the Prophets and the Lord was being followed: the Saints were being obedient, they were being blessed, and they were prospering.
Fast forward almost nineteen years. The population of Clark County alone exploded from under 750,000 in 1989 to over 2 million in late 2007. The LDS population has grown to more than twenty-one stakes, yet while the population increased more than 100%, daily endowments completed at the Temple has decreased by 50%. Ask any ordinance worker at the Temple who has been there any length of time and they will sadly agree they have witnessed this downward trend in Temple attendance and ordinance work.
Troubled by this trend, the Temple President, H. Bruce Stucki, issued a letter to all Stake Presidents within the Las Vegas Temple district seeking their leadership in encouraging Stake members to step up attendance at the Temple. In an effort to do this, Stakes were assigned “Stake Temple Weeks” as opposed to the periodic “Stake Temple Days” during which it was hoped Wards would be given assignments throughout that week to orchestrate completion of a variety of Temple ordinances:
baptisms, confirmations, initiatories, endowments, and sealings.
A number of Stakes have caught the spirit of this endeavor and have challenged their Wards to lengthen their stride, pick up the pace, and dedicate a day or portion of a day to temple work. We personally witnessed what President Ken B. Asay of the Henderson Nevada Green Valley Stake called “Holiness to the Lord Temple Celebration” on September 16, 2008.
In weeks previous to this event, at the conclusion of the day, the number of endowments completed would number around 500. On Green Valley’s special day, we completed exactly 1,000 endowments!
There was such a charged spirit of excitement that evening as we watched endowment sessions fill to capacity. Patrons lined up in Initiatory to complete an ordinance they hadn’t participated in for a long while and then left with such gratitude for the precious work they had been able to complete. The sealing rooms buzzed with activity. THIS is what the Lord intended when He gave the nod to Las Vegas for a Temple!!
We CAN turn this around. In a “perfect” world, Stakes and Wards would be anxiously engaged in family history work, assisting members in the excitement of locating ancestors, building their four generation group sheets, and then helping complete the Temple ordinances for them. This would unite Ward family members as youth do the baptisms and confirmations, then brothers and sisters take care of the other ordinances that bind families for eternity.
Priesthood groups and Relief Society would be helping their members set personal goals of receiving a temple recommend and their own endowments. Temple prep classes would be filled. Ward members would unite in support of these precious children of God who desire to experience the true and everlasting covenant.
Our sweet President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I urge our people everywhere, with all of the persuasiveness of which I am capable, to live worthy and hold a temple recommend, to secure one and regard it as a precious asset, and to make a greater effort to go to the house of the Lord and partake of the spirit and the blessings to be had therein.” There, in the house of the Lord, heaven and earth intersect and we are given eternal perspective on life’s challenges.
How can we not go to the temple? Stephen R. Covey made a great impact when he stated in one of his books that we must begin to “schedule our priorities, not prioritize our schedules.” The world would keep us so busy doing worldly things; we could fill up our schedules with all the activities and demands the world and others make on us and never have time for those things of an eternal nature.
What are priorities to us? What should they be? Sounds like an excellent discussion for Family Home Evening. Create a list of your priorities and then schedule time for them on your calendar before the rest of the world begins taking bites of you.
Build in time for family history research, or help others by volunteering to participate in FamilySearch indexing efforts by registering at www.familysearchindexing.org. This work can be done from your own home computer and will benefit thousands. Consider a service mission in an area that is of particular interest to you: Church Education, LDS Family Services, the Humanitarian Room, Addiction Recovery Program, Bishops Storehouse or Home Storage Centers; become an ordinance worker at the temple, or simply commit to attending more frequently.
There is much work that we can do—and must do—in these difficult times. There is no grander thing we can do, no place more peaceful, no work will provide greater blessings than going to the temple.
Prioritize it, my brothers and sisters. We’ll see you there!