Utah's 13th temple: 'A great and wonderful day'

Groundbreaking ceremony for Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple

A unique and immediate blessing awaits patrons of the future Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple.

Temple-goers stepping out of the planned granite edifice can turn their heads from one side to the other and view three sister edifices dotting the Salt Lake Valley: the Salt Lake Temple, the Jordan River Utah Temple and Draper Utah Temple.

It's a spiritually rich panorama that will symbolize this unprecedented age of temple building.

"What a great and wonderful day this is when we begin another temple," said President Gordon B. Hinckley, who presided Dec. 16 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple.

The future temple will become the fourth temple in the valley, and the 13th in Utah. It will also be the world's only temple to share the same zip code (84095) with another. Both the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple and the 27-year-old Jordan River Utah Temple are located in South Jordan, Utah.

Originally referred to as the "South Jordan Utah Temple," the future temple's name was changed to avoid confusion with the Jordan River Utah Temple, located a few miles northeast. The name "Oquirrh" offers a geographical and historic nod to the area's topography and indigenous past. The new temple will sit at the foot of the Oquirrh Mountains that border the Salt Lake Valley's west side. Meanwhile, "Oquirrh," (pronounced O-ker), is a Goshute Indian word meaning "wooded mountain."

"(Patrons) won't know how to spell (Oquirrh) — but they don't come to the temple to spell," said President Hinckley, drawing laughter from the many gathered for the ceremony. "They come to serve in the work of the Lord."

The Church president was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by his counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, along with several other General Authorities, including President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve conducted the service.

Hundreds of local priesthood leaders and their families attended the morning ceremony, held inside a large, heated tent. Thousands of others belonging to the new temple district gathered at nearby meetinghouses to watch the proceedings live on a closed-circuit broadcast.

President Hinckley said it seemed appropriate to break ground for a new temple during a sacred holiday season when members honor Christ's birth and the anniversary of Joseph Smith's birthday.

"We couldn't have a better Christmas present than the house of the Lord."

President Hinckley expressed thanks to faithful tithe-payers worldwide who make temple building possible.

"If this valley keeps growing, we may be building another (temple)," he said, emphasizing a potential fifth temple likely won't be built anytime soon. President Hinckley also announced that a temple would be built in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (see article on this page), and hinted at future temples in Brazil and other lands where the Church is established.

The Church leader challenged members to be worthy and anxious to attend the temple. He also offered a groundbreaking dedicatory prayer, asking that those who labor at the construction site "do it with a spirit of worship and sanctimony."

President Monson spoke of boyhood memories of riding bicycles, ice skating and visiting relatives near the area where the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple is to be built. The future edifice, he added, will offer "a new link with our extended families."

President Monson suggested that those participating in the ceremony "do a little temple building ourselves." Future patrons can build their own personal temples inside themselves, even as the new temple is being constructed. He repeated the counsel found in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 119: "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."

There is no better blueprint for the temple and one's own life, President Monson said. "We are engaged in a magnificent project here that affects all eternity."

In his comments, President Faust spoke of Brigham Young and his prophetic vision of millions of people filling the Salt Lake Valley. "We are seeing the realization of that in our time."

President Faust said all who attend the new temple can enjoy the same promise made by the Lord to the Israelites in 1 Kings 6:12-13: "Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgements, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee...And I will dwell among the children of Israel."

He also called the building of a fourth temple in the Salt Lake Valley a historic occasion, calling President Hinckley "the greatest temple builder in the history of the world."

An artist's rendering of the future temple was also revealed at the groundbreaking ceremony. The edifice will be built on an 11-acre site at 11022 S. 4000 West and feature a single copper-clad spire ascending to a height of 193 feet. A 9-foot statue of Angel Moroni will be placed atop the spire. The building exterior will consist of beige granite quarried and milled in China. Once dedicated, the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple will serve some 83,000 members living in the western Salt Lake Valley.

Local priesthood leaders are certain their congregations will be blessed even as the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple is being built. Many are eager to follow President Monson's direction to construct their own personal temple.

"I hope that as the members of our stake see this temple being built that they will accept that challenge and commit themselves to keeping the commandments and their covenants," said South Jordan Glenmoor Utah Stake President Dennis Johnson.

President Robert L. Backman, an emeritus Seventy who presides over the Jordan River Utah Temple, hopes the groundbreaking will motivate members who have not been to the temple to secure their own temple recommends. President Backman welcomes a new temple in South Jordan, but adds that much work is waiting to be done at the Jordan River Utah Temple.

"We have plenty of room most of the time."

South Jordan Utah Highland Stake President Robert Homer served as the coordinator of the Dec. 16 groundbreaking ceremony. Lives will be blessed with the opening of a new temple, he said. "The light that comes from the temple will be reflected in the souls of the saints."

President Homer's wife, Rhonda Homer, said she plans to snap photos of the new temple during its various stages of construction for a special scrapbook. Many, she added, have been reminded of the temple's importance with the construction of another Salt Lake Valley temple.

"There's going to be an urgency for people to come to the temple," Sister Homer said. "I'm looking forward to that."

Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple - groundbreaking Dec 16, 2006.
Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple - groundbreaking Dec 16, 2006. | Copyright Intellectual Reserve

E-mail to:

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