Reflections of the first Ghana Temple President

Reflections of the first Ghana Temple President

Grant and Alice Gunnell, called to be the first Temple President and Matron in the Accra Ghana temple, returned to the country where they had served previously as Mission President.  They arrived two months ahead of the scheduled dedication to prepare the temple for its opening.

“Re-acquainting with Priesthood leaders and many of the Saints was a delight”, remarks Brother Gunnell as he reflects on that occasion.  “We saw the excitement of the Saints throughout the Ghana Temple District in anticipation of having a temple in their midst.” 

Much preparation was needed.  President Gunnell conducted scores of interviews with potential ordinance workers throughout the temple district.  “Serving with Counselors and their wives was “monumental”, remarked Brother Gunnell recently.

His Counselors and their wives were:  President Dale Van Horn and his wife Beryl, President Lee J. Housley and his wife Marie, President Grant Jensen and his wife Joan, President Dudley Tucker and his wife Joyce and President Arthur Woffinden and his wife Carolyn.

 There were also several other North American couples who were instrumental in training the Ghanaian Saints as Ordinance workers.  “We loved and enjoyed our service with all of these dear brethren and sisters and express special appreciation for their service.”

“Serving under the direction of Elders Sheldon Child, Ross Workman and Conrad Schultz, the Area Presidency, and their wives was a blessing and opportunity.  President Craig Cardon also came just prior to our returning home in November, 2006.” 

“Some of the highlights of our experience” recalls Brother Gunnell:

  • The temple dedication and being in the presence of the prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • Seeing the joy and excitement on the faces of the saints of West Africa as they visited the temple, realizing they had received eternal blessings that would permit them to become eternal families
  • Having the opportunity of seeing or participating in the sealing of many of our former Missionaries to their wives and children.  This was one of the significant highlights - being called to come back to Ghana and having the blessing to re-acquaint with many of our former missionaries.

Sister Alice Gunnell passed away in June of 2010.  She and Brother Gunnell had kept in contact with many of their friends from the Africa West Area in the intervening years.  Brother Gunnell remains in contact still today.  He sends this message of love and admonition to the saints in West Africa upon the commemoration of the ten year anniversary of the Accra Ghana Temple.

To the Saints of West Africa:
“My dear brothers and sisters within the Accra Ghana Temple District…what a glorious opportunity and blessing for you to have your very own temple in your midst.  The temple coming to your area was not an accident.  It came as a result of your faith and prayers to have a temple amongst you that would enable you to receive ordinances from the Lord that would enable you to become eternal families and gain your eternal salvation.  The temple came to your midst because of your faithfulness in keeping the commandments of the Lord, attending your sacrament and other meetings, paying an honest tithing and doing all else that is becoming of a faithful member of the Church.  The love Sister Gunnell and I have felt for you has been ongoing since our first arrival in West Africa in November of 1989.  During this time we grew to love some of the most hard-working and dependable missionaries we have ever had the opportunity to serve with.  The dedication of these young elders and sister missionaries for missionary service is un-equaled.  We learned also of the dedication of the priesthood leaders and saints throughout the countries of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia.  We loved the leaders in each of these Countries as well as the members.  We continue to commend you for your dedication in keeping the principles of the gospel and in so doing, increasing the growth of the Church there.  Our commendations and blessings to you always.  I look forward to the future when we shall continue to associate with one another and enjoy our friendship and service together…FOREVER!!”  Brother Grant Gunnell