On a clear fall Sunday this week, thousands of worshippers converged on a hilltop in Belmont, Mass. to dedicate the 100th temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
At the dedication, church president Gordon B. Hinckley led the group in hymns and prayer. But the solemn tone masked the deep excitement of Mormons in New England and at Harvard at having a temple of their own.
"We consider it the most sacred place on earth," says Margaret Woolley, a second-year student at Harvard Business School. "I can practice my religion more fully."
The dedication of the Boston Temple, where Mormon believers can conduct the holiest rites of their faith, marks a homecoming for a church whose founder was born in New England but which has long had its strongest ties to the American West.
And for Harvard's rapidly growing Mormon population, the temple dedication Sunday provided a renewed sense of connectedness and community.
"The specialness of the temple being built is not so much in the dedication of the temple, but rather in there finally being a temple here," says Jason P. Brinton '00-'02.
Most of the more than 100 Mormon students at Harvard attended the temple dedication, as well as faculty members and staff.
"It has a historical significance," says Dr. Keith G. Allred, a Pforzheimer House tutor and assistant professor at the Kennedy School of Government who serves as bishop of the Cambridge Second Ward of LDS. "At the time of the church's founding all the believers packed up and moved west. This represents a return of the church to the Northeast and a growing presence of the church in this area that necessitated a new temple."
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