On an Indiana fall morning, Sept. 29, some 500 Latter-day Saints, their invited guests and members of the media gathered for the groundbreaking of the Indianapolis Indiana Temple.
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy presided at the event, which was broadcast to Church members gathered in 46 meetinghouses across Indiana and eastern Illinois.
Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer of the Seventy also attended and spoke at the event. Elder J. Christopher Lansing, an Area Seventy, conducted the meeting, held at the site of the future temple, in a dew-covered field in the city of Carmel, located just north of Indianapolis.
Elder Hallstrom told the congregation that he had read about the community where the temple is to be constructed and that it would be a perfect location for the House of the Lord.
He also spoke of the Church's doctrinal beliefs, bearing witness to the crowd that "we are all spirit children of a living and loving God. We lived in His presence prior to coming to this mortal existence."
Elder Hallstrom went on to say that the holy temple helps Latter-day Saints to know in their lives what to embrace and what to discard. He challenged Church members to develop traditions of righteousness.
"We are your friends," Elder Hallstrom told members of the community, adding that the Church and its members are there to serve them.
Elder Schwitzer spoke of "sacred ground," such as Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount and told those in attendance that this, too, is sacred ground. "This ground symbolizes eternal life and God's purpose for us," he said.
"Today we are celebrating the building of the House of the Lord in Indiana and, certainly, we do stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before," said Elder Lansing.
He told those gathered that the Church has come a long way in Indiana. Just a few decades ago, members met in homes; today meetinghouses, accommodating 42,000 Church members attending 100 wards and branches, dot the landscape.
Paul H. Sinclair, president of the Indianapolis Indiana North Stake, said, "The temple is not a reward for a job well done; it is an invitation to worship and to work."
President Sinclair also spoke of the early Latter-day Saints in Indiana who laid a "spiritual foundation," in preparation for a future "House of our God."
Alyssa Hightower, 11, from Indianapolis, attended the groundbreaking with her mother and brother at a nearby chapel. "I really felt a strong spirit when they were turning the dirt where the temple would be built," she said.
Her brother Hunter, 14, said his favorite part of the service was when Elder Hallstrom talked about how much his grandparents loved serving in the temple and how much they loved each other and wanted to be together forever.
The brother and sister are grandchildren of Byron S. and Imogene Hightower, who became members of the Church in Indiana in the early 1940s and, like many "Hoosier" Latter-day Saints, helped lay the groundwork for a temple in Indiana.
Church leaders, joined by architects and contractors, turned soil during the groundbreaking ceremony. Once they were finished, all in attendance were invited to put a shovel's blade in the earth and turn the soil.
Upon its completion, the Indianapolis Indiana Temple will serve some 25,000 Latter-day Saints across eight Indiana stakes and one in eastern Illinois.