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Angel Moroni takes flight

After five decades of waiting, spire is finally graced by statue

LINGFIELD, SURREY, ENGLAND

When 13-year-old Aaron Glover heard in his Bristol England Southmead Ward that a statue of Moroni was being placed on the spire of the London England Temple on Monday, Dec. 15, he "had a warm feeling," and he just knew he "had to be there." His mother got him excused from school, but how he was going to travel the 150 miles to the temple was unresolved.

London temple, placing Angel Moroni
London temple, placing Angel Moroni Photo: Braden Howard

Bob Horton, also of Southmead, had decided to go to the temple to film this "once in a lifetime event" for his grandchildren, and he invited fellow ward member Paul Webster, who suggested they invite the young deacon Aaron. They did not know of his desire to attend.

The three stood and watched under gray, threatening skies with 150 others while a helicopter flew in from Buckinghamshire, 58 miles away, to lift the 8-foot, gold-leaf covered statue to the top of the 50-year-old temple. Scaffolding — erected earlier — made it possible for construction workers to access the top of the 180-foot spire and secure the statue.

London temple, placing Angel Moroni
London temple, placing Angel Moroni Photo: Braden Howard

The event briefly stopped traffic on the busy A22, which passes the temple, and onlookers got out of their cars to peer through the temple gates.

Elder Braden Howard, a missionary in the England London South Mission, said, "The figure spun around and around with his trumpet in hand as it made its way to the top as if to say, 'I am here.' We loved it."

London temple, placing Angel Moroni
London temple, placing Angel Moroni Photo: Jeff Swinton

"Talk about dreams coming true," said David Scarlet of the East Grinstead Ward, Crawley England Stake. "The whole of my Church life has been miracles coming true, and this is one of them."

The placing of Moroni was the conclusion of the Jubilee Celebration of the London Temple, first dedicated in 1958 by President David O. McKay and rededicated in 1993 by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Included in the Jubilee project have been restoring the Manor House and the visitors center, adding new mission offices to the temple site and renovating the accommodation center for temple patrons.

London temple, placing Angel Moroni
London temple, placing Angel Moroni Photo: Braden Howard

It joins Latter-day Saint temples around the world — Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Bern, and Freiberg — which have in recent years added this familiar figure to the temple, fulfilling in some ways the Apostle John's record, "I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven."

Indeed it did fly. The helicopter picked up the fiberglass statue and flew to the nearby spire. The six-foot solid wooden tip of the copper-plated spire was removed for the new addition. The rest of the spire is wood frame with copper cladding.

"Finally, the temple will be completed," Rowland Elvidge, former London England Temple president, said as he stood on the soggy grass watching the installation. Brother Elvidge had instigated the plan to have an angel Moroni placed on the temple and steered the effort for the local council approvals.

"This effort brings the London Temple into the family of temples," said Michael Fagg, current president of the London Temple.

Usually an Angel Moroni is placed atop a temple by a large crane, explained Carl Champagnie, who directed the several construction projects at the temple site. But reaching the top of the spire required an 80-ton crane, and the weight might have damaged the property. An added bonus was that using a helicopter cost a fraction of using a crane. The construction team, dressed in their work clothes, wore white gloves to protect the fragile gold leaf exterior of the statue.

"We've worked on Buckingham Palace and many cathedrals," explained Bob Bolton, construction manager of Stone West, "but this is the first time we have worked with an angel."

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