The dedication of the Hermosillo Sonora Mexico Temple was a silent, unheralded milestone for President Gordon B. Hinckley in his long career of promoting temple building and temple worship.
That service marked the 50th temple he has dedicated or re-dedicated. He has dedicated 24 temples since becoming president of the Church in 1995.
The first temple he dedicated was the Atlanta Georgia Temple, completed in 1983 as the 21st in the Church. At the time he was second counselor in the First Presidency. Ill health prevented President Spencer W. Kimball and his first counselor, President Marion G. Romney, from presiding at the dedication. President Hinckley was called upon to complete the ambitious expansion of temples started by President Kimball in 1980, a string of 18, along with one rededication. He found himself in a similar position in 1989, when he dedicated four more and rededicated three more temples.
Since becoming president of the Church in 1995, a significant advance in the number of temples has been made through a plan he initiated that reduces the size of temples and places them in many more locations. President Hinckley told Dell Van Orden, then editor of the Church News, (see Aug. 1, 1998, issue) that the inspiration for the smaller temples came while he was in Colonia Juarez, Mexico.
"As we were riding to El Paso, I reflected on what we could do to help these people in the Church colonies in Mexico," President Hinckley said. "They've been so very faithful over the years.
He said as they quietly drove along, "I thought of these things and what could be done. The concept of these smaller temples came into my mind. I concluded we didn't need the laundry. We didn't need to rent temple clothing. We didn't need eating facilities."
President Hinckley explained that all the necessary features of a temple could be incorporated into a smaller structure, that could be constructed in a relatively short period of time. Once on the airplane, President Hinckley put his ideas onto paper. "I took a piece of paper," he said, "and sketched out the [floor] plan, and turned it over to the architects to refine it. The concept is beautiful," he said. "It's a very workable concept."
Since that time, 16 of these temples have been dedicated and more than 35 are under construction and expected to be completed by year-end.
President Hinckley also announced the reconstruction of the Nauvoo Temple, which is now underway, and the building of a temple near the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, N.Y., which will be dedicated April 6.