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South Jordan » President Thomas S. Monson, celebrating his 82nd birthday, winked, wiggled his ears and fussed over a passel of children Friday as he presided over the traditional mortar ritual preceding the first dedicatory session for the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, the LDS Church's fourth in the Salt Lake Valley and 130th in the world.
After Monson and other church leaders -- wearing white suits -- and their wives knifed mortar into the seam surrounding the 17-inch-by-51-inch cornerstone, the Mormon prophet invited seven children from the crowd of about 300 to press in some mortar of their own.
"Reach high, boy, reach," Monson urged Carson Layton of South Jordan. The young boy was skillful with the knife. "He's even fixing up the mistakes of others," Monson said. "Look at that."
"It was so much fun," said 8-year-old Morgan Drew of West Jordan, the second child chosen by Monson. "It was worth getting up early," she said after the ceremony.
After Monson spotted a sign wishing him happy birthday, the crowd of 300 around the cornerstone broke into a rendition of the birthday song, which ended with a lone male voice singing, "And many more."
That prompted a laugh from Monson. "That's what I'm listening to hear."
Oquirrh Mountain, like other LDS temples, contains rooms for religious instruction, contemplation and ceremonies, such as weddings, in which couples are "sealed" for eternity. Mormons also perform temple ordinances, including baptism, for deceased ancestors.
A choir of more than 150 women and men who live in the area served by the temple sang "How Great Thou Art" and "On This Day of Joy and Gladness."
The cornerstone ritual lasted about 20 minutes, and then Monson entered the temple for the formal dedication in the Celestial Room, flanked by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, his second counselor; Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder William R. Walker, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and executive director of the church's temple department; and Alan Layton, the first president of the new temple.
More than 1,500 Mormons who worked on the temple and volunteered during its two-month open house (which drew nearly 600,000 people) and who live in the South Jordan area attended the first dedicatory session, sitting throughout the temple and watching via closed-circuit TV.
Only temple-worthy members with tickets from their bishops can attend dedication services, which continue today and Sunday. Afterward, members must have recommends to enter the temple.
The Oquirrh Mountain Temple is the second in this fast-growing suburb of 51,000 people in the southwestern part of the valley and the 13th in Utah. South Jordan is the only city in the world with more than one LDS temple. The Jordan River Temple, just northeast of the new edifice, opened in 1981.
The Oquirrh Mountain Temple is expected to serve 83,000 of the faithful.
Fourteen-year-old Justin Olsen scooped up a dollop of the thick mortar to keep as a memento.
"I figure it's a good thing to have." he said. "This is a special day, a special occasion."
His 12-year-old brother, Brandon Olsen, was happy just to see the LDS prophet up close. "It's a great experience. You can feel the spirit strongly."
In an unusual move, church leaders canceled church services in Utah on Sunday so that the LDS faithful with tickets can go to stake centers and watch the 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. dedication session broadcasts.
Salt Lake City
Jordan River (South Jordan)
Oquirrh Mountain (South Jordan)
Mount Timpanogos (American Fork)