New Utah temple: 4,000 volunteers answer last-minute service call

It was a Friday afternoon and Stephen M. Studdert of the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple Committee was reading the scriptures, reflecting on the work that had been done to prepare for the temple open house, which would begin the next week.

Pres. Studdert of the Highland Utah East Stake and vice chairman of the temple committee studied the words, "prepare every needful thing" found in Doctrine and Covenants 88:119, which speaks of building a house of the Lord.He realized that during the last week, as volunteers worked to prepare the temple and beautify the temple grounds, they had forgotten one "needful thing."

Across the street from the newly constructed edifice, the 160 acres encompasing the Utah State Developmental Center could also be cleaned up.

Within two hours, members of the temple committee had notified representatives in the temple district's 43 stakes - asking them each to provide 100 volunteers the next morning.

More than 4,000 Church members, from Orem to Lehi and in Wasatch County, responded to the call Aug. 3. Each spent four hours working at the temple site and across the street on the development center grounds, weeding, pruning, digging, planting sod, picking up debris and hauling away dead timber.

"We wanted to say to the developmental center, thank you for your patience during the last 31/2 years of construction and thank you in advance for your patience as hundreds of thousands of people visit your neighborhood," Pres. Studdert explained. "What better way could we show our love for our neighbors than to say to them, let us help you where you can't help yourself."

Pres. Studdert said when he told the grounds superintendent at the developmental center that Church members were coming to help, the superintendent smiled. When Pres. Studdert added that more than 4,000 members would volunteer their time, tears came to the superintendent's eyes. "He was overwhelmed with the spirit of the temple," Pres. Studdert said.

McClain Bybee, president of the Orem Utah Canyon View Stake, said when he first received the call to find 100 volunteers in his stake, he wondered why he couldn't have been given more notice. Then he realized this opportunity was one small way to sacrifice for the temple.

"One young man, who was riding in my car, said, `This is absolutely great,' " Pres. Bybee recalled. "People went where they were needed. There was no complaining, they thought of it as an opportunity."

Ronald A. Stone, president of the Midway Utah Stake, said most the youth in his stake and their bishops were involved in youth conference over the weekend. As a result, it was harder to find volunteers to contribute their time - especially on such short notice.

But, Pres. Stone explained, "People seemed to understand and were delighted. I think there is a moment when you think I don't know if I can arragned that, but then you get involved and feel the spirit of participation."

Pres. Stone called the project a "magical morning."

"You could really see what the Church can do," he said. "Thousands of people showed up on a moment's notice."

Pres. Studdert called the quick response to the project indicative of the enthusiasm members in the temple district have. "I have never seen so many smiles," he said of the participants. "They understood they were giving Christ-like service. It wasn't just an assignment, their heart was there."

Pres. Studdert added that one bishop told him he had never seen a service project so successful and asked if it was "six months in the making."

"I said," Pres. Studdert recalled, "No, it was 12 hours in the making."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed