The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to announce, select sites for, design, and construct new temples at a remarkable pace. Ceremonial groundbreakings mark the official commencement of on-site construction, while these sacred structures are ultimately dedicated upon completion, allowing devoted members to partake in their religion’s most sacred rituals.
For numerous years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, incorporated the cornerstone ceremony as a meaningful tradition for temple construction. This symbolic act involved laying a foundation stone during a special ceremony, often inscribed with the date of the temple’s dedication. The cornerstone served as a poignant reminder of the temple’s sacred purpose and its enduring foundation in eternal principles.
The cornerstone is a symbol of Jesus Christ, who is the chief cornerstone of the church. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the chief cornerstone in several passages, including Ephesians 2:20-22:
“Having built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
The cornerstone is also a symbol of hope and promise. It is a reminder that the temple is a place of peace, refuge, and hope. It is a place where people can come to learn more about God and his plan for them. It is a place where they can come to make covenants with God and to receive his blessings.
The Church, during its early days, celebrated the placement of cornerstones in the construction of both ancient buildings and temples.
Until recently, the cornerstone ceremony not only marked the completion of temple construction but also served as a commemoration. During this ceremony, the presiding authority would invite leaders and guests to place mortar around the “coverstone” — an outer facing cut from the southeast cornerstone.
The cornerstone box, which was placed and secured the day prior to the dedication, held no particular religious symbolism in its contents. Its primary purpose was to document the construction of the temple and reflect the prevailing trends within the church at that time.
When it came to filling temple cornerstone boxes and church-related time capsules, the Church History Department would receive inquiries about what should be included.
Certain items had become typical inclusions over the years, including the latest version of the LDS scriptures, writings by the then-current church president, materials utilized in temple construction, regional and church history, and the dedicatory prayer of the temple.
However, each temple had the opportunity to include unique items that reflected its individuality and the preferences of the collectors involved.
In an announcement made by the church’s governing First Presidency on Saturday, June 17, 2023, it was announced that the longstanding cornerstone ceremonies have been discontinued.
The brief statement issued by the First Presidency reads:
“Construction techniques have advanced to the point that cornerstones are no longer included in large buildings. Therefore, temple cornerstone ceremonies will no longer be part of temple dedications.”