Text by Maurine Jensen Proctor Photography by Scot Facer Proctor
When the Nauvoo Temple was dedicated June 27 at 6:00 PM, it was the very hour and the very day that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in Carthage Jail 158 years before. (We know the very hour because John Taylor’s watch was stopped by a bullet at 5:16:26, and it was before Daylight Savings).
In that hour, and the dedicatory services that would follow, over 3.5 million Church members in 72 nations would join for the largest meeting in the history of the Church. When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang, “Millions shall know Brother Joseph again,” it was a prophecy fulfilled and rang with that kind of poignancy. It was a day never to be forgotten, to tell your children and your children’s children about. “I saw the Nauvoo Temple dedication. I was there.”
In the very hour that the Saints were crossing the Mississippi in waves, like an exiled nation on the roll, God saw this day and knew the temple would not be ultimately lost. “We’ve built this temple with materials to last 200 years,” one of the construction managers said. “Perhaps 500 years,” said another. The Lord saw this rebuilt Nauvoo Temple when the temple lot was a grassy square with a sunken hole. He had not forgotten. “My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee” (Abraham 2:8).
When President Hinckley was asked if he thought Joseph was satisfied and happy about this new Nauvoo temple, he answered, “I hope so. I believe so. I am satisfied that at the dedicatory services today, there is an unseen audience. I feel confident that Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum are in that audience and many others who gave their life and their time and energies for the construction of this temple.”
Sister Barbara Winder, Temple Matron, shares her feelings at the coverstone ceremony.