Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple
Winter Quarters is hallowed ground for the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Winter Quarters was the site that the Saints settled after they were driven out of Nauvoo. It was also a stopping point for the many Saints who came from Europe before crossing the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. The area is home to many graves of the Mormon pioneers who died in their quest to reach Zion. More than 2,000 members of the Church died at Winter Quarters due to scurvy, malaria, and inadequate food and shelter from the heavy storms. Once a site of so much death, it is now home to a building dedicated to the Lord, a new Mormon temple. Winter Quarters, “once a staging ground for pioneers going west, once a point of departure, has now become a destination for modern Latter-day Saint pioneers as they come to the house of the Lord,”1 said E. Louis Butler, Winter Quarters Temple President.
The new temple was built next to a Mormon pioneer cemetery and visitors’ center. During the groundbreaking ceremony conducted by Elder Truman F. Clawson on 28 November 1999, he said, “Now today, on this end of the hill, we will take shovels in our hands to dig not a grave but the foundation of a special building, a temple, to be built for the blessing of all who choose to enter that they may also bind together forever their families. And so, the magnificent view from here allows us to contemplate both the past with its dead and the future represented by the beautiful new temple which begins today.”2
In preparation for the open house, members of the Church and the community of Florence, Nebraska, worked together creating handcrafted flowers for storefronts and decorating historic sites and markers with balloons. One visitor commented, “I am grateful for your generosity, that we who are not Latter-day Saints can rest for a while in your temple and feel the presence of Jesus Christ.” 3
As over 61,000 visitors toured the Winter Quarters Temple, the many stained-glass windows featuring scenes of the early pioneers reminded visitors of the struggles and heartaches the pioneers faced. “There are times and places in the life of every nation when great spiritual heights are reached, when courage becomes a living thing, when faith in God stands as the granite mountain wall – firm and immovable – while hardships, want, sickness, sorrow, and death beat down and crush,” said Heber J. Grant, seventh president of the Church. “Winter Quarters was such a time and place for the Mormon people.”
Members all over the United States and Canada watched via satellite broadcast as President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Winter Quarters temple on 22 April 2001. During the dedicatory prayer President Hinckley recognized the sacrifice of the Saints and the great spiritual and historical significance of having a temple at Winter Quarters.
Omaha Mayor Hal Daub, referring to the Mormon temple and adjacent cemetery, said, “Let us always revere, let us always remember and let us recognize this temple will stand as a monument and testament to the good will of God and the peace and harmony of all mankind.” 4
8283 N 34th St
Omaha, NE 68112-2114
P.O. Box 12036
Omaha, Nebraska 68112-0036
(1) News of the Church,” Ensign, July 2001, 74
(2) 4 December 1999, Church News
(3) News of the Church,” Ensign, July 2001, 74
(4) 4 December 1999, Church News