SOUTH JORDAN, UTAH
Over the past decade, the Church has built dozens of new temple across the globe. Still, Church leaders say, while the opening of temples has become a common occurrence, it has not become commonplace. The wonder remains.
Such enthusiasm was evident May 20 as a collection of General Authorities hosted members of the media on a tour of the newly built Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple.
"It's an exciting declaration to the world that the Church is prospering and growing in Utah," said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Elder Ballard was joined at the event by his fellow apostle, Elder Quentin L. Cook.
"I have thought about how much this [area] has grown and how many faithful Latter-day Saints are here — and now we have a fourth temple in the Salt Lake Valley," said Elder Cook. "It's really a cause to rejoice."
The media open house was staged several days before the temple will commence its public open house period, beginning June 1 and running through Aug. 1 (except for Sundays, July 4 and July 24). The Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple will be dedicated Aug. 21-23 in nine sessions.
Elder Ballard and Elder Cook were assisted on the media tours by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy. The leaders walked with television and print reporters though the edifice's elegant hallways and ordinance rooms. Passages from the scriptures were read as the Brethren explained the purpose and sacred significance of the temple baptistry and the sealing and ordinance rooms. Silence was observed as reporters gathered inside the temple's peaceful celestial room. Such reverence afforded visitors a few moments to study the celestial room's magnificent 15-foot chandelier, high-reaching walls and placid decor.
The Brethren often enlisted personal experiences of temple work as they discussed why the Church chooses to build temples worldwide. Elder Ballard spoke of officiating at the temple marriages of many of his grandchildren. He's performed the sealing ordinance many times — but each ceremony, he said, leaves him emotional and uplifted. While discussing the baptistry, Elder Rasband remembered taking his own son to the neighboring Jordan River Temple to perform that ancient ordinance together as a parent and child.
Following the tour, the Brethren answered questions from the journalists in the temple chapel and outside in a neighboring courtesy tent.
The 60,000-square-foot Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple is built on 11 acres in the burgeoning city of South Jordan in the southwest section of the Salt Lake Valley. When the new temple is dedicated, South Jordan will become the only city in the world with two temples in operation. The 28-year-old Jordan River Temple is just a 10-minute drive to the east. The new temple stands 183 feet high and features interior limestone from Morocco and Egypt, white oak woodwork and original artwork and murals painted by Church-service missionaries. Future patrons here will simply have to look west of the temple toward the Oquirrh Mountains to be reminded of the area's rich copper mining legacy that continues to this day.
Following the media tour, Elder Cook said it's his hope that people of all backgrounds will want to visit the temple during the public open house. Many, he added, will come to know that there is nothing "secret" about the temple as they come to understand the sacred work that happens inside temples. For members living inside the new temple district, the fast-approaching dedication can prompt personal commitments of re-dedication.
"It's a time when they can contemplate their lives and ponder on the things that are most sacred and most important in life," he said. "They can prepare themselves so they will be worthy to go to the temple."
The new temple can also serve as a reminder of the blessings that await those who serve.
"Our hope is that, frankly, with four temples in the Salt Lake Valley, there is going to be a resurgence and a re-energizing of members of the Church to go to the temple again," said Elder Rasband.
Elder Ballard offered direction to members eager to meet the responsibilities that will be exacted by the Salt Lake Valley's fourth temple.
"Be good. Have your family prayers. Have your personal prayers. Study the scriptures, Come to know your Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The more you do that, the more you are going to want to participate in the sacred ordinances that have been given to the earth again through the Restoration."