Behold, the mountain of the Lord
In latter days shall rise
On mountaintops, above the hills,
And draw the wond'ring eyes.
To this shall joyful nations come;
All tribes and tongues shall flow.
'Up to the hill of God,' they'll say,
'And to his house we'll go.'
- Behold, the Mountain of the Lord, #54. Hymns.
The story of building a temple is not just about finding the land, hiring a contractor and then constructing the building. There is much more to it than that. The story of the Calgary Alberta Temple really started twenty years ago when the Church owned twenty acres in the northwest of Calgary in anticipation of growth in that area. In 1990, Elder Richard Melchin, now Area Seventy but then a Stake President, was approached by the Church to assist in the consolidation of its land sties. The Church traded those twenty acres for ten closer to the centre of Calgary and retained the land for future use.
When it came time for President Monson to find a location for a temple in Calgary, this long held site with its stunning view of the city made it the perfect location, ready as it was for approval and development as a temple site.
The normal process for approving and developing a temple involves extensive community consultation, working with neighbours, negotiating with civic leaders and coordinating with the Temple Department in Salt Lake City. Although the site was generally zoned for two buildings of worship and not for a building as large as a temple, Elder Melchin worked with the local residents and City planners, resulting in a bylaw allowing for the height and size of a temple and the adjacent chapel.
Civic approval was achieved in February 2010; ground breaking took place in May 2010 and the Temple was dedicated October 28th, 2012.
This is the first Temple to use geothermal heating. The vertical closed loop system has a series of pipes plunging over 200 feet below the foundation to gather or dissipate heat. The boiler room looks like the engine room of a yacht with masses of, perfectly aligned and maintained pipes, gauges, switches and valves. This heating system makes it well suited for Calgary’ winters. Most of the walkways are heated to add to patron safety.
Most temples have a significant amount of exterior lighting. However, the Calgary Temple, as a courtesy to its neighbours, has exterior spotlights only on the Angel Moroni. Another unique feature is the stained glass windows, which have hidden LED lighting to push light through the stained glass panels and the exterior windows, providing attractive nighttime lighting from the interior to the surrounding grounds without being obtrusive. In fact, some neighbours would have preferred that the interior lights were even left on after midnight.
One of the most significant aspects regarding the building of the Calgary Temple was that there were no protests during public meetings, the construction, Open House or at the dedication. Not one. Local members had followed the admonition to “organize themselves, and prepare every needful thing.”
In preparing for the Open House, members passed out 300,000 invitations to family, friends and neighbours. Forty-five hundred local members diligently served at the Open House which involved managing traffic, parking, tours, cleaning, security and so much more.
Over 100,000 visitors attended from twenty-two countries, twenty-seven US states and all ten provinces of Canada. On the final day of the Open House, eighty people asked for missionary visits and earlier days were similarly successful. Visitors consisted of a wide variety of people from all walks of life including other church groups and their leaders. Visiting the Temple was an excellent way for members of other churches to see our focus on Christ.
Over and over, people attending the Open House spoke of the peace they felt in the building and this helped explain the purpose of our temples and our desire to attend. Many people visiting the Celestial Room would pause and pray or comment on the peace they felt there. One individual, a heavily tattooed visitor who rode his motorcycle up from Southern Alberta, the last of his group going through the Celestial Room, was found in tears. When asked by the guide if he needed help, the man said that when he was 16, he was sealed to his parents. He hasn’t been in the Temple since then, but now was having feelings that he never thought he would have again and realized he was going to have to reform his life so his son could be sealed to him.
Another tour guide’s experience concerned three nuns who were attending the Open House. As they were walking through the Celestial Room, one nun was overheard saying to the others “He is here.”
Now that the Temple has been constructed and dedicated, all its planning and preparation has already proved to be a blessing to the Saints of Alberta as it stands as a sacred and reverent House of the Lord.