REXBURG, IDAHO — On the day the new Rexburg Idaho Temple was dedicated, a reverent quietness pervaded. Many spoke in muted tones even outside the sacred edifice.
But the evening before, children and young people led a cultural celebration in this southeastern Idaho town marked by dance, song, music, cheering and ovations.
For President Greg Moeller of the Rexburg Idaho East Stake and chairman of the Rexburg temple cultural celebration, this was the chance for the some 45,000 in the new temple district covering parts of the Upper Snake River Valley to "express our joy."
"The neat thing about these celebrations is all of our hearts are so full that we want to yell and clap and cheer."
And that's just what some 2,000 children, youth and young single adults did while performing "Come to God's Own Temple, Come" on Saturday evening, Feb. 9, before an audience of nearly 3,500 packed in the Hart Auditorium on the BYU-Idaho campus, with thousands more watching via live satellite in stake centers throughout the temple district.
"This has been a real labor of love for all those involved," said President Moeller prior to the celebration.
"Come to God's Own Temple, Come" used a multi-media approach, including historical photos and narration, to tell the story of the settling of the Upper Snake River Valley in 1883 by Mormon pioneers, including Thomas E. Ricks, for whom Ricks College was later named.
The central theme of the celebration was taken from Doctrine and Covenants 101:64-65, including the phrase: "Therefore, I must gather together my people, according to the parable of the wheat and the tares, that the wheat may be secured in the garners to possess eternal life...."
In fact, the most poignant moment came at the conclusion of the celebration when several hundred Primary children dressed in white dresses and white shirts and pants flowed onto the floor carrying stalks of wheat.
That idea was clear to "wheat walker" Zach Jensen, 9, of the Rexburg 19th Ward. When asked after the performance what he thought about when carrying his stalk of wheat, which he still clutched in his hand, he responded it was "like I was going to head straight to the temple."