POCATELLO — The overall construction of the Pocatello Idaho Temple is complete, but there’s at least one final touch yet to be added.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will place a memorabilia-filled box in the cornerstone of the temple prior to its dedication, set to take place on Nov. 7.
Rich Kirkham, who serves on the Temple Open House Committee’s Historical Sub Committee, says all of the Church’s temples — like many other historical buildings — have cornerstones and cornerstone boxes.
“Cornerstones used to be functional components of all buildings dating back to antiquity, prior to the advent of reinforced concrete foundations,” Kirkham wrote in an email response to the Journal.
He continued: “The chief cornerstone was the principle stone used to orient all the other components of the building including other cornerstones, foundation stones, wall structures and the roof. Because it was a reference point, the stone had to be perfectly square, and properly set.”
In the church, the cornerstone is symbolic.
“In the New Testament, Paul refers to Jesus Christ as being the ‘Chief Cornerstone’ of the Church. All other members of the church, regardless of their function, must orient themselves to Him in order for the building to be ‘fitly framed together unto an holy temple in the Lord,’” Kirkham wrote, referencing Ephesians 2:19-21. “Today temple cornerstones are symbolic representations that the temple and the Church are built on the principles taught by the Savior, Jesus Christ. Items placed in the cornerstone should likewise be tied to the Savior and those things upon which our faith in Him is built.”
Kirkham and his wife, Kathy Kirkham, are serving as the cornerstone coordinators and have been collecting items to place inside the temple’s cornerstone box since May. With guidance from a Church History Department representative and the Temple Department events manager, they’ve gathered a variety of items.
Kirkham says the cornerstone box will include the standard works of the Church (Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants), a copy of the dedicatory prayer, a hymn book, a photo of the temple presidency, a construction history of the temple, books about the area’s local history, books written by the current church president, Russell M. Nelson, and other items of historical interest.
“For example, we have been presented with a United States flag that flew over the Capitol building in Boise that was dedicated by Governor Brad Little,” Kirkham wrote. “Mayor Brian Blad has also contributed a Pocatello City flag along with a letter expressing good wishes on behalf of the City.”
Kirkham says they will also include beadwork — a sunburst featuring 11 feathers of the eagle and the colors of the setting sun — a Sacagawea dollar from 2000, the first year it was minted, and a letter all gifted by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
The memorabilia will be placed in a box, then sealed and added to the temple’s cornerstone in early November, and Kirkham says the Church will hold a special cornerstone ceremony as part of the temple’s first of three dedicatory sessions.
“Those seated in the temple and at overflow locations for this session view the cornerstone service via broadcast,” Kirkham wrote. “Those not attending the first dedicatory session, including the media and other members of the general public, may attend the cornerstone service which takes place outside the temple.”
The cornerstone box will be opened at some point in the future, but there’s not a specific timeline for doing so. Kirkham noted that the Salt Lake Temple’s capstone and cornerstone were unsealed during renovations that took place 128 years later.
Kirkham says he feels privileged to take part in the history of the Pocatello Idaho Temple.
“I have been touched by the reverent interest people have in the cornerstone and the related items that will be placed there at the dedication,” he wrote. “I often put myself in the place of someone who will look at these items far in the future and wonder what Pocatello will be like then and how these items will be viewed. My hope is that it will be as sweet an experience for the people who open the box to see and handle these items as it has been for us to lovingly place them there.”