Friday the 8th of October 2021 was a notable day for the Preston England Temple and its maintenance team. The morning started at 7am like all others, with a brief meeting and opening prayer. However the gathering was shorter than many, as the events that would unfold had been planned, discussed and considered for weeks. Often referred to as “Moroni Day”
Dedicated in June 1998 the elements had taken their natural and expected toll on the statute that is so prominent as you pass junction 8 of the M61, and he had a new replacement resting in a packing crate under the temple.
Standing on top of the majority of Latter-day Saint Temples is a statue of the angel Moroni. Representing the Book of Mormon prophet that concluded the ancient record (around 421AD) and sealed it up. He is well known by church members, especially for his appearance as a resurrected being (angel) to Joseph Smith on the 21st of September 1823 bringing forth the ancient record for our day. His statute is a symbol or reminder, that the gospel has been restored and a new dispensation has been heralded in like the sound of the trump, that he holds in his hand. The Moroni on top of Preston Temple, like many but not all, faces East, another symbol of the rising sun or rather the Resurrection and rising of The Son of God.
After pushing and pulling the crate up the inclined service road into the car park, a team of around 10 operators and riggers began to set up the giant crane and cherry picker that would be used for the job.
The statute is positioned by a 1.8m steel shaft attached under his feet, which is a snug fit into a steel tube in the top of the spire, To release the shaft a weather proof cowling around its top is drilled off by the operator in the cherry picker. Then an 8m steel cable, the thickness of your thumb attached to the end of the shaft, to an anchor point in the centre of the spire is released. To release this tensioning cable, one of the temple team climbs about half way up inside the spire to disconnect a bolt. In addition a 12m long copper cable hangs inside the spire, connecting a good earth point to the lightning conductor at the top of the statute. is detached. This lightning conductor in the statues head had been unscrewed and replaced with a lifting eye, to sling it to the crane.
Once lifted down and on the ground it became obvious how more than 20 years of weather had damaged the 23ct gold leaf finish.
In all the planning it had been considered that the shaft on the new Moroni may need some fettling to ensure a good fit. But with the old and new statues side by side, it became obvious the two were very different !! The two disks and webbing on the new shaft were 5cm bigger in diameter than the old one.
It is moments like these that define men! It would have been easy to have said “put the old one back up, this wont fit”. But as always I was impressed by the resolve of the temple maintenance staff, led by Brother Botts.
It took several hours of team members taking turns grinding and gas cutting, but the 18mm steel disks and webs were reduced in diameter to allow them to slot into the spire shaft. White shirts may not have been the best clothing for the day !!
With the day advancing, there was only really one chance to install the newly modified Moroni so measurements between old and new were checked and double checked, then he was gently raised out of his box and the stainless steel cowling fitted.
It was then time to raise and see if the shaft would fit into the slot – followed by attaching the steel tensioning cable and copper earth cables within the spire.
The cherry picker operator reported that the shaft fitted into the slot with just millimetres to spare. What a privilege it has been to work along side these great men and to be able to say I have played a small part in installing a temple Moroni !
As Moroni “flew through the air” suspended on the crane I was reminded of Revelation 14:6
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every enation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.“
For those passing junction 8 of the M61 they may, or may not notice that Moroni has a new “shine” But for church members, perhaps this new statue should be symbolic of a renewed desire to preach the everlasting gospel?
This great building is intended to inspire us spiritually and mentally but also to inspire us to action. President Hinkley spoke of the faith of the Saints in this area during the temples dedicatory prayer.
“Through the centuries Thou hast smiled with favour upon England, “this sceptered isle.” Great have been her ways, marvellous her destiny. She has bequeathed to the world the great principles of English law to enhance the dignity of man, and the priceless gift of the English Bible which since the year 1611 has stood as a testament of the Redeemer of the world. This magnificent temple has been reared in this beautiful area where Thy chosen servants, in the days of their deep poverty and great sacrifice, first preached the restored gospel. Through 161 years of history this land of England, together with Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, has yielded a harvest of converts who have blessed and strengthened Thy Church. In early years thousands gave their lives when they left their homes, and with hope born of an abiding faith, sailed across the seas, and traversed a continent in search of Zion. Hallowed be their memory.”
There was also mention of Moroni.
“We dedicate the grounds on which it stands, with their trees and shrubs, flowers and lawns which add to the beauty of Thy house. We dedicate the structure from the footings of the temple to the figure of Moroni. We dedicate all of the components of the building that they may function harmoniously together to create a house that is “fitly framed.”
But more importantly he spoke of what WE should do with the sacred place…
“May Thy people come here with rejoicing in their hearts to enter into covenants with Thee, and be endowed with power from on high. May they kneel at these altars and be sealed together as families under the authority of the holy priesthood. May they return frequently to carry forward a great and selfless labor of vicarious work for the dead that the earth may not “be utterly wasted” at the coming of Thy Son. May the multitudes of the dead, through living proxies, receive the ordinances herein offered.”