10 Temples and the Amazing Treasures in Their Cornerstones

by | Jan. 05, 2017


During the construction of every temple, another project takes place on a smaller scale. Instead of creating a beautiful building or painting a stunning mural, someone has the special assignment to fill a small time capsule for the cornerstone of the temple.

On the day before each temple dedication, a time capsule is placed in the cornerstone of the temple. The next day, the prophet or apostle dedicating the temple seals the cornerstone with mortar as part of the dedication ceremony. 

Cornerstones are symbolic of Christ, who is known as the "chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20). Even in the early days of the Church in Nauvoo, leaders filled cornerstones with historic artifacts to commemorate the symbolic cornerstone.

While the time capsule doesn't have to include anything in particular, there are a few typical inclusions: a set of scriptures, the dedicatory prayer for the temple, a biography or book from the current prophet, and regional histories and pictures. 

Each temple assigns a collector for the time capsule. While collectors range from official historians to young women in the temple district, their task is to fill the time capsule with whatever they feel is important.

With 153 temples currently in operation, we won't list the contents of every temple's time capsule. But here are just a few cornerstones with interesting contents:

1. Draper Utah Temple

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Image retrieved from lds.org.

President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the Draper Utah Temple on March 20, 2009. The day before the first dedicatory session, a small group of people gathered to place commemorative items Image titlein the time capsule.

While the time capsule contains many of the typical inclusions, Deseret News reported that the time capsule also included a set of hand-crafted ink pens made from the roots of the scrub oak cleared from the temple lot and another set of pens made from the African makore wood used in the temple's interior.

President Monson invites a young boy to place mortar around the cornerstone. Image retrieved from deseretnews.com

2. Nauvoo Illinois Temple

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Image retrieved from lds.org.

President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Nauvoo Illinois Temple on June 27, 2002, in 13 different sessions. Following President Hinckley, the mayors from Nauvoo, Quincy, Keokuk, and Fort Image titleMadison took turns adding mortar to the cornerstone. 

According to Daily Gate, the time capsule included Standing for Something, by President Hinckley; a hymnal; a scrapbook containing press packets, brochures, photos, and articles about the Nauvoo Illinois Temple; a knife, trowel, and chisel used in temple construction; and a commemorative coin.

President Hinckley seals the cornerstone of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. Image retrieved from lds.org.

3. Provo City Center Temple

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Image retrieved from lds.org.

After the Provo City Tabernacle transformed into the beautiful Provo City Center Temple, this historic building was dedicated by Elder Dallin H. Oaks on March 20, 2016.Image title

To commemorate the history and memories of the old tabernacle and Provo, they included the books Provo's Two Temples and Called to Teach: The Legacy of Karl G. Maeser. Other histories and memorabilia from the historic tabernacle were also included in the time capsule. Read more about what was placed in the Provo City Center Temple cornerstone here

Books and artifacts added to the Provo City Center Temple cornerstone time capsule. Photo by A. LeGrand Richards. Image retrieved from byu.edu.

4. Accra Ghana Temple

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Image retrieved from lds.org.

On January 11, 2004, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Accra Ghana Temple, which was the second temple dedicated in Africa (following the Johannesburg South Africa Temple in 1985, also by President Gordon B. Hinckley).

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In the time capsule, they included letters from Ghanaians expressing interest in the Church before the 1978 priesthood revelation that allowed black Latter-day Saint men to hold the priesthood. In December 1978, the Church officially established the Church in Ghana, which was an answer to a 14-year prayer for those who had been living the gospel without ordinances like baptism, confirmation, or the sacrament.

These historic letters are also accompanied by photos and newspaper articles about the Church in Ghana from the year of the temple dedication.

Russell Tanner, Director of Temple Building for West Africa and Elder R. Conrad Schultz, second counselor in the Area Presidency, place the time capsule box in the cornerstone. Image retrieved from ldsmag.com.
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