Temple presidents, matrons gather for instruction, training, counsel
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In preparation to begin service this November, new temple presidents and their wives gathered in the Salt Lake Temple for the 2010 Seminar for New Temple Presidents.
During the seminar, held Oct. 13-15, the 53 new temple presidents and matrons received instruction, training and counsel from President Thomas S. Monson, his counselors in the First Presidency —?President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf — and other General Authorities.
President Monson began his remarks by quoting from Ezekiel 36:26 — "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you."
"I like that," he said. "I'd like to suggest that you will receive a new heart in this assignment, as well as a new spirit. It will be the spirit of the temple."
President Monson asked the temple presidents and matrons to welcome every patron who comes to the temple.
"Many have not been to the temple previously," he explained. "Extend a hand of friendship, a smile of welcome, and help them feel that you are privileged to receive them in the Lord's House. I would hope that you, and all those who serve with you, will have that spirit of kindness and love."
Continuing, President Monson said some in the congregation may have heard the phrase, "An organization is the lengthened shadow of its leader."
"What will your shadow be?" he asked the temple presidents. "Our leader is the Lord, Jesus Christ, and our temple service should be a reflection of His life and His mission."
President Monson closed by speaking of a "wonderful old-timer" in his ward, Brother James Farrell, who served in the Salt Lake Temple until he was 99.
"Finally, as age was getting the best of him, the temple president kindly expressed to him that it was probably time now for him to relax his regimen of being in the temple three or four days a week, and perhaps take life a little easier. He went home and he sat in his large, comfortable chair in his daughter's home where he lived, and said, 'Dear, I guess I'm getting old. If I'm too old to serve in the temple, I might just as well be called home.' That evening he passed away. That's the type of spirit that exists among the people who will serve under your direction. Be kind to them."
In his remarks, President Eyring spoke about events that happened in the Nauvoo Temple during the winter of 1845-46.
"The saints were being driven from Nauvoo by mobs," President Eyring explained. "President Young needed to lead them quickly across the frozen plains, but they crowded the temple night and day to get their endowments and their sealings before they went into the wilderness.
"President Brigham Young was ready to leave. He drove away from the temple expecting that the people would follow. When they didn't, he did not try to enforce order. He went back to help them receive their endowments to give them hearts prepared to be led through what would lie ahead."
President Eyring said Brigham Young was wise enough to put the spiritual needs of the people ahead of his need to start the journey west.
"He knew that the feelings that would go down into their hearts from the temple experience would carry them through on the journey."
Closing, President Eyring said it is his prayer that the Lord will bless each temple president and matron "with the precious capacity to make the House of the Lord a place where people feel the love of God and the peace that God's spirit brings."
President Uchtdorf told the congregation that one of the great opportunities they will have as temple presidents and matrons is to influence the atmosphere felt among patrons and workers.
"I'm convinced that your efforts to create an atmosphere of warmth, friendliness and peace will also result in increased temple attendance," he said. "It is a natural response to this feeling."
He spoke about the Swiss Temple, which was dedicated in 1955 and was the first temple outside of the United States and Canada.
"When my family was sealed in this [the Swiss]temple in 1957, I was a young teenager," he recalled of his life in Germany. "The experience made such a deep and wonderful impression on my life that I yearned to return to Zollikofen soon. Even being only a teenager, I wanted to feel that temple spirit again."
At that time, he said, it wasn't as common as it is today for youth groups to travel to the temple and do proxy baptisms for the dead.
"A friend and I decided to go to the temple on our own," said President Uchtdorf. "My friend was old enough to have a motorcycle license; we borrowed a motor scooter and the two of us headed down to Switzerland. The roads were horrible at that time (consider the mid-50s), and it was a rough six-hour ride. The weather was cold and rainy. I remember it being a much more strenuous trip than I ever hoped for, but it was great. We finally arrived and experienced again this warm, overwhelming feeling of goodness that comes from just being close to the temple, and when you are in the House of the Lord."