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Latter-day Saint Temple Cornerstone Ceremonies Discontinued

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The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued the following statement:

Construction techniques have advanced to the point that cornerstones are no longer included in large buildings. Therefore, temple cornerstone ceremonies will no longer be part of temple dedications.

Cornerstone ceremonies have been a longstanding tradition in temple building, inspired by ancient rituals. President Gordon B. Hinckley touched on this in his message, “Four Cornerstones of Faith.”

“In each new temple we have had a cornerstone ceremony in harmony with a tradition that goes back to ancient times,” he said. “Before the general use of concrete, the foundation walls of the building were laid with large stones. A trench would be dug, and stones would be placed as footings. Starting at a point of beginning, the foundation wall would be run in one direction to a cornerstone; then the corner would be turned and the wall run to the next corner, where another stone was placed, from which the wall would be run to the next corner, and from there to the point of beginning. In many instances, including the construction of early temples in the Church, cornerstones were used at each junction point of the walls and put in place with ceremony. The final stone was spoken of as the chief cornerstone, and its placement became the reason for much celebration. With this cornerstone in position, the foundation was ready for the superstructure. ”

Ultimately, cornerstones are symbolic of Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone of our faith.  

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf at the cornerstone ceremony for the Tucson Arizona Temple in 2017.

Each temple cornerstone also acts as a time capsule, filled with important contents from both a historical and personal perspective. They are filled with scriptures, books from the current prophet, sample materials, historical information about the area and temple, and special items from members that commemorate the occasion. For example, the Draper Utah temple cornerstone box includes ink pens made from the scrub oak cleared from the temple lot and from the African makore wood used in the temple’s interior.

Tools used by the Quorum of the Twelve during the cornerstone ceremony of the Rome Italy Temple in 2019.

It is unclear if this part of the tradition will continue in a new way as construction methods change. 

Children were often invited to help with the cornerstone ceremonies, as seen here during the Payson Utah Temple dedication in 2015.
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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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