Past presidents devoted time, energy

Since its dedication on April 6, 1893, 17 presidents have presided over the Salt Lake Temple. Their terms ranged from three to 16 years, and many of them presided while carrying on other time-consuming Church assignments.

For instance, one was president of the Church while presiding over the temple, one was a member of the First Presidency, and several were members of the Council of the Twelve.But regardless of their Church backgrounds, each devoted time and energy to the now-100-year-old temple. Following are accounts of two past presidents:

Just a few weeks after the dedication of the temple in April 1893, Elder Lorenzo Snow of the Council of the Twelve was called to serve as the first temple president, according to Every Stone a Sermon by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel. He was set apart May 19.

According to Holzapfel, Susa Young Gates described him in his capacity as temple president: "He stands now at the head of the Temple work in Israel, his beautiful features shining with the light of love and truth, as he walks and works in those sacred halls. It is heavenly to see him, surrounded by his fellow-workers . . . . When you are privileged to go into the Temple, you too will see him [andT you can speak with him, and feel the pressure of his faithful hand."

Many others were called to assist Pres. Snow or to be temple workers. The temple presidency consisted of Pres. Snow; John R. Winder, first assistant; and Adolph Madson, second assistant. John Nicholson was called as chief recorder.

Among many called to serve in the temple was Mary Ann Freeze. Holzapfel wrote that she lay ill when Pres. Snow and his wife, Minnie, visited her May 6, 1893. Coming into her bedroom, the temple president said, "You haven't got time to be there in bed: we want you at the temple."

Sister Freeze was called to attend a meeting at the temple the following Saturday.

Pres. Snow served as temple president until 1898, when he was sustained as president of the Church.

On March 10, 1921, after being sustained as the new president of the Salt Lake Temple, Elder George F. Richards of the Council of the Twelve wrote: "I know of no special labor that could be added to my present duties in the Church that I would appreciate and enjoy so much as that of presiding over the Temple work and workers and engaging in the work myself.

"I, therefore, regard this appointment as a very great added honor which, with the help of the Lord, the assistance of my counselors and the First Presidency over me, I hope to magnify satisfactorily to the Lord and all concerned."

According to the Life of George F. Richards, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which contains numerous excerpts from his journals, the new temple president was set apart by Church President Heber J. Grant on March 14, 1921. Then-Elder Joseph Fielding Smith and Albert Davis were set apart as his counselors.

Pres. Richards recorded March 15, 1921: "I presided at the Temple for the first time, and after the meeting I met with my counselors and some of the workers and talked to them in regard to being kind and helpful to others and seeing that others do likewise. People coming to the Temple for the first time regard it as Heaven on Earth . . . ."

During his tenure, which lasted until 1937, the first night session in the temple was held June 1, 1921.

Pres. Richards became president of the Council of the Twelve in 1945.

(Additional information)

Temple presidents

Following are the presidents of the Salt Lake Temple, listed from the first to the present:

Lorenzo Snow: 1893-1898

Joseph F. Smith: 1898-1911

Anthon H. Lund: 1911-1921

George F. Richards: 1921-1937

Stephen L. Chipman: 1937- 1945

Joseph Fielding Smith: 1945- 1949

Robert Dixon Young: 1949- 1954

ElRay L. Christiansen: 1953- 1961

Willard Richards Smith: 1961- 1964

Howard S. McDonald: 1964- 1968

O. Leslie Stone: 1968-1972

John K. Edmunds: 1972-1977

A. Ray Curtis: 1977-1982

Marion D. Hanks: 1982-1985

Victor L. Brown: 1985-1987

Edgar A. Denney: 1987-1990

Spencer H. Osborn: 1990- present

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