“I don’t think there’s anything greater that I could be asked in my ministry to do than to be assigned by the prophet of God to dedicate a temple,” said Elder Rasband.
This is the Apostle’s first opportunity to dedicate a temple. “You can see how I [had] such a high expectation and deep appreciation for the privilege of being here,” he added.
Elder Rasband’s wife Melanie, accompanied him along with Elder Carl B. Cook of the Presidency of the Seventy who assisted with the dedication and the traditional cornerstone ceremony that preceded the dedication. Elder Cook’s wife, Lynette, also participated in the dedicatory services.
The cornerstone ceremony is considered the final construction element to the temple. Elder Rasband conducted the short ceremony just prior to the dedication.
“We … symbolically set the foundation of [the] temple,” said Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Which is like the scripture says, that Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of His church and the apostles and prophets are the foundation.”
An open house was held in late January to give the public the opportunity to visit the temple and see inside the sacred building. There was great interest in the temple. People representing 20 countries attended the open house.
The finest craftsmanship and materials were used; a pitched red tile roof and an elegantly detailed central tower are inspired by the architecture of Durban. Fluted stone panels highlight geometric carvings of African roots of the region.
Sapele mahogany woodwork, imported custom-made rugs and marble flooring accentuate the African motif.
Elder Rasband said the Durban South Africa Temple “took his breath away” as he walked through the temple with his family for the first time on the eve of the dedication.
“There are renditions in the glass and in the carpet of the protea flower, the national flower of Africa,” he recalled. “There are beautiful paintings that have been done locally, that show local scenes. And so, it’s a temple built for Africa. I was hoping for that. I was [also] hoping that it would be a temple for the people of Africa as they honor the Lord Jesus Christ.”
On the same day Elder Rasband and his family experienced walking through the Durban South Africa Temple for the first time, another very special group entered the temple prior to its dedication—His Majesty, Goodwill Zwelithini Kabhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Kingdom; his wife, Her Majesty, Queen Mchiza; the Prince Mangsuthu Buthelezi; and other family members. The Zulu nation is the largest tribe in South Africa.
“I’m relishing in the privilege of having the king and queen and their family be the last guests that we will take through this temple before it is dedicated to the Lord,” said Elder Rasband.
Elder Cook, former area president in South Africa, added, “They know God. They [king and queen] have love for God. They have respect for God. To feel their embrace, not only their acceptance to come, but they embraced our church, they embraced the temple.”
Prior to their tour of the temple, Elder and Sister Rasband and Elder and Sister Cook hosted members of the Zulu royal family in a reception on Friday, February 14.
At the reception, Elder Rasband welcomed the Zulu royal family and said, “This is a great honor for us to be here in your wonderful presence. It means a great deal to us.”
His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen, Mchiza, traveled a great distance and endured flight delays to attend the special reception.
The king welcomed the Church to his kingdom and invited it to work with him in philanthropic efforts for his people and to assist in teaching them about the Savior. His majesty also presented the Church leaders with gifts of the Zulu culture with a special request.
“Just when you look at [the gifts], you must remember what I’ve said and what I ask the Church: to assist my people in rural areas and to assist with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he implored.
In return, Elder Rasband presented the king with a replica of the Thorvaldsen Cristus, a special edition of the Book of Mormon and a promise. “We will be a wonderful partner for you in caring for matters that are important to you, caring for the poor and the needy, helping to relieve human suffering,” he replied.
The Rasbands and Cooks met with Latter-day Saint youth on Saturday evening in a special devotional as part the dedication weekend to celebrate the newest operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Built as a beautiful offering to the Lord, the now dedicated Durban South Africa temple will serve devout members in Mozambique, Lesotho and South Africa.
“The temple represents the highest ordinances, the highest covenants, the highest form of worship that worthy members of our Church can participate in,” said Elder Rasband.
The other temple in South Africa is the Johannesburg South Africa Temple. President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the temple on August 24, 1985. Additional temples in use in Africa include the Aba Nigeria Temple, Accra Ghana Temple and the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple. Five more temples have been announced or are under construction. They include the Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple, Harare Zimbabwe Temple, Freetown Sierra Leone Temple, Lagos Nigeria Temple and Nairobi Kenya Temple.
Temples are considered houses of the Lord where Jesus Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through baptism and other rituals that unite families for eternity. In the temple, Church members learn more about the purpose of life and make covenants to follow Jesus Christ and serve their fellow man.
Our glorified and eternal Father in Heaven, we, Thy children, come before Thee in earnest prayer in the name of Thy Beloved Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, at the completion of this holy temple in Durban, South Africa. We pray Thou wilt accept this offering of our love and devotion to Thee.
On the outside of this beautiful structure is the inscription in gold letters, “Holiness to the Lord.” May “Holiness to the Lord” also exemplify the inner feelings of our hearts, the thoughts of our minds, and the labors of our very lives. With gratitude and humility, we offer our dedication to Thee and Thy Son and to the restored gospel. We testify of our resurrected Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ, and His Atonement, the singular act that broke the bands of death, set in place the covenant path, and opened the gates of salvation.
At the direction of President Russell M. Nelson, today by divine design, with the authority of the priesthood which comes from Thee, and in the name of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, we dedicate this temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Durban, South Africa. May it stand as a pinnacle of hope and salvation, of Thy restored priesthood and purposes here on the earth. May it prepare us to join Thee for all eternity.
We dedicate the ground on which this temple stands and the surrounding gardens, the unseen footings and foundation, the walls and windows and the beautiful dome with the crowning figure of Moroni. We dedicate the baptistry, the areas for initiatory ordinances, the endowment room, the glorious celestial room, the sealing room and the altar and every other part of this hallowed house.
To this prayer of dedication, we add the words of Thy chosen servant, our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, that “the crowning jewel of the Restoration is the holy temple. Its sacred ordinances and covenants are pivotal to preparing a people who are ready to welcome the Savior at His Second Coming.” Wilt Thou continue to bless, guide and inspire President Nelson and those who serve with him in the councils of the Church.
We pray Thou wilt watch over this temple and protect it. May it withstand tempests and turmoil, destruction and defilement. We bless the additional buildings of this temple complex that they, too, will be watched over by guardian angels that their structures will grace this holy site.
May the influence of the Holy Ghost be unrestrained within these walls and may the temple serve as a beacon of everlasting light to all who see it and a sanctuary to all who enter in. We pray for those who attend the temple of any age. May they feel strengthened to live their covenants with determination, patience and discipline. Wilt Thou bless them with insight, steadfastness, and forgiving hearts.
We dedicate this holy temple as a house of learning, righteousness and prayer — and a house for those on both sides of the veil. May our love for Thee mature as we ponder the divine providence of being in the temple and receiving truths of everlasting importance.
We are grateful for the tithes and offerings of Thy people all around the world, brothers and sisters devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. From their consecration this holy edifice has been built and is presented to Thee.
May we recognize the importance of being tied together as families for eternity under priesthood authority and may the blessings of making sacred covenants be the culmination one upon another of our righteous living. May our ancestors who have waited for baptism, endowments and sealings be encircled with Thy promise of eternal life through our efforts on their behalf in the temple.
May our youth — young men and young women — feel the spirit of this work which will give them the strength to resist the temptations of the adversary that could lead them astray. May they take to heart the conviction expressed by Nephi to “go and do” Thy bidding and may their “doing” be worthy of temple service as they advance in their lives.
May this temple provide refuge from the storms, tensions and confusions that beset us on life’s journey, and may we have the resolve to stand strong as witnesses of Thee and Thy Son. May Thy Spirit be poured down upon all who come to this temple weighed down with heavy hearts and sorrows. May the divinity and reality of our Lord and Savior fill our souls as we worship in this holy house and may our Savior’s love be our constant source of joy, peace and plenty.
We pray for blessings upon those who shall preside here, including the temple president and his counselors, the matron and her assistants, and all those who serve now or will serve here in the Durban Temple in the years ahead. Grant them vitality, compassion and solace in Thy service. May all who serve in this temple, whether they be workers or patrons, express reverence and respect for those who attend and those for whom work is being completed. We gratefully acknowledge the trained hands that so beautifully completed this temple beyond standards of the world.
Bless the nations of this temple district, Mozambique, South Africa and Lesotho, O Father, that those who govern will do so in righteousness. Bless the leaders with courage to protect the religious liberties of the citizens and insight to enlarge opportunities that these people may be lifted from the bonds of poverty and disease and look forward to more prosperous living.
We ask that the nations on this vast continent will be blessed by Thy merciful hand and that the scourges and plights of many will be replaced by honesty, brotherhood and goodwill. May teachings of the gospel help heal, fortify and strengthen each country.
And now we dedicate this temple as an abode for Thee and Thy Son. Wilt Thou accept this temple and wilt thou recognize our sincerity in placing it before Thee. May we, Thy children gathered in Thy name, merit Thy bounteous blessings and Thy watchful care, we pray, in the name of Thy Beloved Son, even the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, amen.