Friday, July 28, 2023


Historically, the Temple Cornerstone ceremony is when the first stone is set during the building process of sacred Temples. Temple builders would carefully measure the stone to make sure it is exact and the angles were right. This was so important because it was from that stone that all other stones in the edifice especially the foundation would be organized and would be aligned. Cornerstones have been around for Millennia. Ancient cultures also had ceremonies around placing the cornerstones to their sacred temples like in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamia.  We have continue that ritual and have what we might call a groundbreaking ceremony. In this ceremony, the people would ask God to protect the building. It was this kind of dedicatory type of ceremony around the laying of the Cornerstone. Buildings were often designed in relation to constellations and stars astronomical points on the compass. Ancient cultures would often believe that how you position these buildings in relation to these Heavenly Bodies would form a connection to the cosmos. 

However,  in the latest change made by President Neilson, we are now discontinuing that connection and sacred ceremony. Apparently from the First Presidency's news release, the construction techniques of men are more advanced that we no longer need to symbolically align ourselves to the heavens and making that sacred connection that has been done for centuries with the Temple Cornerstone Ceremony.

Joseph Smith understood the importance of the cornerstone ceremony. Examples of past cornerstone ceremonies are as follows:

 Kirtland Temple

Joseph Smith saw the building of the Kirtland Temple in vision in 1833. He presided over the laying of the temple cornerstone at a ceremony held on July 23, 1833. We do know that 24 priesthood holders met on the temple site July 23, 1833, to lay stones from the quarry. The First Presidency - Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams - and three others laid the southeast cornerstone. Six additional priesthood holders stood at and laid each of the remaining three cornerstones according to what some called `the order of the Holy Priesthood.'

Nauvoo Temple

The cornerstones for the original Nauvoo Temple were laid on April 6, 1841. As described in History of the Church 3:326-331, the southeast cornerstone was set in place under the direction of and dedicated by Joseph Smith. Thereafter, the other cornerstones were ceremonially placed under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The account records that the Nauvoo Legion was present to add an air of ceremonial splendor to the occasion.

Rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple

The symbolic laying of cornerstones at the Nauvoo Temple took place on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2000, at noon in Nauvoo, Ill.
"We want to imitate, insofar as possible, what was done at the original cornerstone laying on April 6, 1841," said President Gordon B. Hinckley. This is particularly significant because the Nauvoo Temple will be constructed to appear almost as a replica of the original temple built on this same site in the early 1840's.

Participating in the ceremony will be General Authorities of the Church as well as local Church leaders and women of the Church's Relief Society. Four large stones will be set in place, one at each corner, beginning with the southeast corner of the temple. LINK

Here are a few other examples of the importance of the Temple Cornerstone Ceremony in the past couple of years given in talks by Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. 

"The importance of Christ as the head of the church and the cornerstone of members’ faith was also highlighted during  Elder Quentin Cook Talk

At the time of the original dedication of the Suva Fiji Temple in 2000, members of that nation’s parliament were taken hostage by a group of rebels. Due to the potential danger of violence, President Gordon B. Hinckley was told it was safest to do a small dedication with no events outside the temple.

President Hinckley agreed to a small dedication with one condition. If the dedication was to occur, the cornerstone ceremony would as well. President Hinckley said, “‘If we do dedicate the temple, we will have the cornerstone ceremony because Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone, and this is his church.'”

"Just after the start of the first dedicatory session, the choir sang “The Morning Breaks" as President Oaks and the other Church leaders came outside for the symbolic cornerstone ceremony. President Oaks invited young children from Maryland, Virginia and Georgia to participate in placing mortar around the cornerstone.
“The most important idea about a cornerstone is that Jesus Christ Himself is the chief cornerstone, setting the direction for the building at the key position in the foundation,” President Oaks said. “So it is with this temple.” LDS CHURCH NEW LINK

So I find it so surprising that President Nelson has made the decision to discontinue this sacred and symbolic Temple ceremony. And the reason for doing so because of the "advancement of construction techniques." 

Another Temple Symbol has been changed.  The Direction of Angel Moroni.

Historically, the Angel Moroni statue faces east, the direction that Christ is to come from when he returns to earth at His Second Coming, as a symbolic herald of that return. all but a few temples have Angel Moroni facing due east. 

Some of the newer temples being built, the Angel Moroni no longer is facing east but actually facing west like the Saratoga Temple which will be dedicated next month. Or even more common now, the Angel Moroni is  longer being placed on our temples. 

Losing the symbolism of the importance of the East: the direction of the rising sun; a symbol of the resurrection as well as the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; a sign of renewal and rebirth and new life.  Facing West is symbolic of  losing light, decline, death, and destruction. 

Below are photos of the sun setting behind the new Saratoga Temple. Angel Moroni is facing the setting sun instead of the facing East towards the direction of rising Sun. Most people when that are buried placed in the ground facing East (not West) in the direction of Christ's Second Coming the hope of the resurrection



New spires have been built and are starting to be placed back onto the top of the Salt Lake Temple. From the photos I took, I do not think they are the original ones. I wonder how much of the Salt Temple after is completed will be original. So much for preserving a historical building. It is quite possible that it might have cost less take it down and rebuild it, since it looks a lot of it is being rebuilt anyway.