The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints marked a milestone in the construction of its first Manitoba temple on July 28, when a large, gold-leaf covered statue was placed atop the steeple of the temple at 2 Centre St. in Bridgwater .
The statue depicts Moroni, an ancient prophet in the Book of Mormon, the book of scripture used alongside the Bible by members of this church.
Because of COVID-19 protocols, church officials did not hold a public event but open house tours are planned for Bridgwater neighbours; government, interfaith and community leaders; and the general public in October. The dedication of the Winnipeg Temple is scheduled for early November but COVID-19 restrictions may require schedule modifications.
"This is the first temple in Manitoba for our church. We are all very excited to be watching it go up and eagerly await its completion," said Josh Gruninger, president of the Winnipeg Manitoba stake of the Latter-day Saints. "The blessings of a temple in our city are something I’ve looked forward to for many years. Like many other members in our area, I know that not only will it bless me and my family, but it will be a place of beauty in our city. The wonderful grounds will all be accessible by everyone and members from the community will also benefit from the peaceful environment."
There are 168 temples worldwide and 4,500 members of the Latter-day Saints in Manitoba. To participate in temple worship Manitobans have previously had to travel to Regina or Minneapolis. Temples differ from the meetinghouses or chapels where members gather for Sunday worship services, in that they are considered "houses of the Lord," where the teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ceremonies that unite families for eternity.
The new Winnipeg temple has been funded through donations of church members throughout the world and local community reaction has been positive.
"I had a Bridgwater resident call me prior to start of construction. There was a 'for sale' sign on an adjacent site and he thought the church was selling the property. He informed me that he had purchased his property because of the church in his backyard. He wanted assurance that it was still on schedule to be built," Christine Baronins, Winnipeg spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said. "We have friends who are not of our faith who live in the community and they have been following the construction regularly and were in attendance at the raising of the Angel Moroni onto the Temple spire.
"City councillor Janice Lukes has expressed her enthusiasm for having this structure in her ward and is anticipating the beauty of the grounds for all residents to enjoy," she added.
St. Boniface community correspondent
Janine LeGal is a community correspondent for St. Boniface.