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The temple serves members in Montana and Wyoming, and the temple district contains 17 federally recognized Indian reservations
Today Church membership in Montana approaches 50,000 members. Before the temple was announced, Church members in the area traveled hundreds of miles to the Cardston Alberta or Idaho Falls Idaho Temples to participate in temple worship.
On 30 August 1996, the Church’s First Presidency announced plans to build the temple on a 33-acre parcel of land in Billings, which would bring the blessings of the temple closer to Church members in the area.
On March 28, 1998, approximately 4,800 people attended a bitterly cold groundbreaking ceremony, where a spring snowstorm took them by surprise. A choir consisting of 700 area youth was assembled to sing for the occasion.
Church leader Hugh W. Pinnock presided and conducted, and Church leaders Kenneth Johnson and Lynn G. Robbins also spoke at the event. Elder Pinnock expressed gratitude to the leaders of the community, including Billings Mayor Charles F. Tooley (who received a shovel used in the groundbreaking ceremony) and many others, including city council members, administrators and staff of the city. A Protestant minister who was in attendance draped his coat over Elder Pinnock’s shoulders after Elder Pinnock gave his to an attendee who did not have one. By the end of the ceremony, the ground was blanketed in snow.
After the temple was completed, an open house was held from October 8 to 23, 1999. An estimated 68,450 visitors toured the inside of the temple and the surrounding temple grounds. When Mayor Tooley returned home from his temple tour, he called and asked if he could come again with his family. Elder Pinnock gave Montana Governor Marc Racicot a personal tour.
The Billings Montana Temple was dedicated in eight sessions from November 20 to 21, 1999, by Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. In the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley spoke of the Spirit that accompanies the construction of a house of God: “Bless those who have worked so long and diligently in the face of opposition to obtain the necessary permits and to erect this sacred temple. May a glad acceptance now prevail concerning it [the temple], even a sense of gratitude for its presence. We pray that this area, in fact this whole city, may feel the Spirit that emanates from this hallowed structure. May it be looked upon as a house of holiness by all who view it.”
The Billings Montana Temple is the 66th operating temple in the world and the first temple built in Montana.
The Billings Montana Temple rests at the base of Montana’s Rimrocks, a 300-foot sandstone cliff formation that runs along the northwest end of Billings in the Upper Yellowstone Valley.
A rock retaining wall and other landscape elements were constructed to blend into the surrounding sandstone. The temple grounds are landscaped with lawns, flower gardens and more than 250 trees and 4,500 shrubs, adding to the tranquility of the neatly manicured temple grounds.
White Wyoming dolomite precast concrete lines the exterior walls. many spaces along the walls have been formed with decorative line patterns molded into the facade.
On the west side of the temple, a beautiful bay window made of stained glass allows natural light into the celestial room.
Spire and Moroni
The single spire of the temple rises from a tiered tower placed at the buildings center. The tower is faced with louvered vents that appear to be shuttered windows.
On top of the temple’s 117-foot central spire is a statue of the angel Moroni, a Book of Mormon prophet, heralding Christ’s Second Coming. The main foyer has a skylight through which patrons can glimpse this distinctive statue. The statue was added on 12 November of 1998 and is a fiberglass replica of Karl Quilter’s 1982 statue. It is 7 feet tall and covered in Gold leaf.
Within the 33,800-square-foot temple are instruction rooms, a baptistry, and a chapel, a laundry, brides’ room, and clothing rental desk. The temple is a model of space efficiency featuring all of the amenities of larger temples in less total square footage than other larger temples.
The temple contains 2 instruction rooms, suet up to present the Endowment Ceremony in a 2 stage progressive fashion.
The Billings Montana Temple contains 3 sealing rooms.
Sources and Links
- MormonNewsroom.org (official)
- Mormon Wiki