Temple experiences in ‘deseret’ reflect reverence, warmth

As LDS temples continue to dot the world, more and more members are able to experience the blessings of temple worship, and many relate special, tender moments.

During the next few months, the Church News will publish pictures of the temples, along with a vignette relating to each temple. This is part 2 of the series and features temples in Utah, which in pioneer times was called the State of Deseret. The first of the series was published March 5 and featured temples in the western United States and Alberta.

Bountiful Utah Temple

Ground broken May 2, 1992, by President Ezra Taft Benson.

  • Located in foothills of Bountiful, Utah; temple now nearing completion.
  • Modern design, faced with light colored bethel granite from Vermont.

BOUNTIFUL, UTAH – An indication of the reverence with which the people of the Bountiful Utah Temple District hold their new edifice – now nearing completion – was given at the temple groundbreaking.

Elder Blaine P. Jensen, regional representative of regions in and near Bountiful and vice chairman of the Bountiful Utah Temple Committee recounted the incident. He said more than 8,000 people gathered on the site for the groundbreaking.

They were present for three to four hours, he said. "Many brought food and snacks with them."

Prepared for resulting litter, the temple committee arranged to have numerous plastic garbage bags on hand and volunteers to clean up the area after the event.

"To our surprise, we removed less than half a garbage sack full of refuse from the 10-acre site," he said. "It was an indication of the great sanctity of the event, as well as the people's attitude toward it. It was reflected in a most significant way, and seemed a phenomenal thing to us."

Jordan River Temple

Ground broken June 9, 1979, by President Spencer W. Kimball.

  • Dedicated Nov. 16, 1981, by President Marion G. Romney.
  • Located about 15 miles south of Salt Lake City in South Jordan, Utah.
  • Modern design with cast stone of marble chips; tower is of fiberglass product called cemlite.

SOUTH JORDAN, UTAH – "Lengthen your stride," the phrase so closely associated with the ministry of President Spencer W. Kimball, was clearly exemplified at the Jordan River Temple groundbreaking.

Conducting the service, President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency, said: "Following the benediction there will be a groundbreaking. You will notice the large power scoop shovel which will be used instead of the traditional-type shovel for such programs. It will be operated by President Kimball in keeping with his oft-quoted counsel to lengthen our stride." (Church News, June 16, 1979, p. 3.)

Evidently, the striking image of President Kimball pulling the levers of the large, front-end loader and scooping up a bucketful of dirt was not lost on members of the temple district, who increased their efforts to see the temple through to completion.

By the deadline of May 1979, 110 percent of the entire amount needed to build the temple had been raised, and in record time. It was the first modern temple to have been constructed entirely with donated funds.

Logan Temple

Ground broken May 17, 1877, by President John W. Young.

  • Dedicated May 17, 1884, by President John Taylor; rededicated March 13, 1979, by President Spencer W. Kimball.
  • Located on bench overlooking Cache Valley in Logan, Utah; castellated style, with dark colored siliceous limestone.

LOGAN, UTAH – A proverbial college town, Logan is home to Utah State University. Thus, Latter-day Saints from far-flung areas have the opportunity to visit or go through the Logan Temple while they are students or student spouses at Utah State.

Pres. Larry L. Jardine of the Logan Utah University 2nd Stake, said young couples in his married-student stake who have been married civilly often qualify themselves to be sealed in the temple. That endeavor is fostered by an active temple preparation seminar effort in the stake.

Occasionally, one of the wards in the stake will have a membership in which every eligible member holds a temple recommend, the president said. That was the case several years ago with the Logan University 12th Ward. During the academic year, a young couple that had not been sealed in the temple moved into the ward. They attended the temple seminar and made themselves worthy to receive that blessing.

Four months later, on the day they were sealed in the Logan Temple, almost every member of the ward attended the temple with them.

Manti Temple

Ground broken April 25, 1877, by President Brigham Young.

  • Dedicated May 17, 1888, by President Wilford Woodruff; rededicated June 14, 1985, by President Gordon B. Hinckley.
  • Located on hill above U.S. Highway 89 in Manti, Utah.
  • Castellated style reflecting several other influences; fine textured, cream-colored oolite limestone on exterior.

MANTI, UTAH – After looking at the workmanship in the Manti Temple prior to its rededication in June 1985, President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, said during the first dedicatory session: "I see the magnificence of the workmanship wrought with rudimentary tools. I have been in most of the great buildings of the world – palaces of kings and houses of parliaments – and in none of those places have I had the kind of feeling I get in coming to these early pioneer houses of God." (Church News, June 23, 1985, p. 3.)

One of the devoted workers who worked on the Manti Temple, and ultimately gave his life for the temple, was George Paxman, grandfather of President Hinckley's wife, Marjorie. She related the story of her grandfather during the rededication services.

In 1885, at age 21, Brother Paxman came to Manti to work on the temple as a carpenter, bringing his new bride, Martha Elizabeth Evans, 19. They had just been married in the Logan Temple.

"These were happy times for them," said Sister Hinckley.

Two years later tragedy struck.

Brother Paxman hung the huge east doors of the temple on a Monday. That night he suffered a terrible pain, explained Sister Hinckley. He died four days later of a strangulated hernia, "caused by his all-out effort to get the doors in place." Such was the faith and dedication of one frontier craftsman who had sacrificed so much in helping to build the pioneer temple.

Mt. Timpanogos Utah Temple

Ground broken Oct. 9, 1993, by President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson.

  • Located on bench area in American Fork, Utah, near Mt. Timpanogos; temple now under construction.
  • To be modern design.

AMERICAN FORK, UTAH – Construction of a temple in American Fork has brought a renewal of interest in temples as well as increased commitment to temple covenants, said Stephen M. Studdert, vice chairman of the Mt. Timpanogos Utah Temple Committee and president of the Highland Utah East Stake.

He said that President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, suggested in an address at the groundbreaking ceremony that every child have a picture of the Mt. Timpanogos Temple at his or her bedside. As a result, the temple committee provided color pictures that were personally delivered by Primary teachers to all the Primary children in the temple district.

Youth are also preparing spiritually for the coming temple. The American Fork High School Seminary students built a 10-foot high model of the temple from Popsicle sticks. For every 10 scriptures that were memorized, a student could then put on the model a Popsicle stick with his or her name on it, he said. The model was finished a few weeks ago and put on display at the site.

"It is amazing how much traffic goes by that site. Some young men and young women have gone as ward groups to visit the site. Some of these youth groups had picnics adjacent to the site, and concluded with testimony meetings on the site.

"I think maybe, most sweet of all, is how often on Sunday afternoons we see families there."

"Another thing that is a little different from any other temple is that right across the street is the Utah State Developmental Center, an institution for developmentally disabled people.

"There is a ward of the Church made up of residents of this institution," Pres. Studdert said. "The leaders of that ward have focused on the temple and these wonderful, special spirits are filled with excitement and spiritual devotion in anticipation of the temple coming.

"This has been a very special gift to them. They all have pictures of the temple by their beds, and in their own way, they are filled with the spirit of the temple."

Ogden Temple

Ground broken Sept. 8, 1969, by President Hugh B. Brown.

  • Dedicated Jan. 18, 1972, by President Joseph Fielding Smith.
  • Located in downtown Ogden, Utah; modern and functional design with gold anodized aluminum and white cast stone finish.

OGDEN, UTAH – In 1971, Utahns along the Wasatch Front were thrilled with the announcement of two new temples, the first to be constructed in Utah since the Salt Lake Temple in 1893.

Keith W. Wilcox, who would later be the Ogden Temple's third president and then a member of the Seventy, was appointed by the First Presidency to oversee planning of the open house and dedication of that temple.

"We decided we would have the public showing, of all times, in December, with the dedication to be held in January, a month before dedication of the Provo Temple," Pres. Wilcox recalled.

"It was the Christmas month, but it worked in beautifully with our plans. We worked out a process of receiving the people in the new Ogden Tabernacle on the north side of the square. From there the people would move through a series of tents from the tabernacle to the entrance of the temple, so they could be protected from inclement weather."

After the visitors went through the temple, they could return to the tabernacle where they were able to ask questions. "We had a wonderful response, as people would come there and discuss their feelings, having just viewed the inside of the temple," he said.

Provo Temple

Ground broken Sept. 15, 1969, by President Hugh B. Brown.

  • Dedicated Feb. 9, 1972; prayer written by President Joseph Fielding Smith and read by President Harold B. Lee.
  • Located near entrance of Rock Canyon on east bench of Provo, Utah; modern and functional, with white cast stone and gold anodized aluminum finish.

PROVO, UTAH – The Provo Temple is the "busiest temple in the Church," said President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, during the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Mt. Timpanogos Utah Temple. (Church News, Oct. 16, 1993, p. 4.)

But despite its busy schedule, the Provo Temple offers all patrons a peaceful, pleasant experience, according to temple Pres. Arthur S. Anderson. He said this is not only because of the efficient manner in which the edifice was constructed, but also because of the dedication of the people who serve in the temple – all 2,091 of them.

For example, Pres. Anderson explained, "Those who serve in the temple from Vernal, Roosevelt and Duchesne in eastern Utah come in year around. They drive down one day and work all afternoon, then they stay in town over night at their own expense, work again the next morning and then drive back home."

Pres. Anderson recalled how a temple worker from Heber City, 28 miles northeast of Provo, couldn't make it to the temple through Provo Canyon because of severe winter conditions. Rather than miss his shift at the temple, the temple president said, the worker drove through Park City, north of Heber City; through Parley's Canyon, into Salt Lake City; and then took the freeway to Provo, 45 miles south of Salt Lake City.

What was a 28-mile drive to the temple became a 100-mile trip. But that worker completed his assigned duty that day in the temple.

"The workers are very dedicated to the work, and their objective is to make the busiest temple in the world also very spiritual," said Pres. Anderson. He added that the workers' aim is make the temple experience pleasant for all.

He explained that the steady flow of patrons actually helps in the smooth working of the temple. "There's seldom a time we can't take more people. The flow is steady so we handle a lot of people without it being crowded."

Salt Lake Temple

Ground broken Feb. 14, 1853, by President Brigham Young.

  • Dedicated April 6, 1893, by President Wilford Woodruff.
  • Located on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.
  • Suggestive of Gothic design, but unique; exterior made of gray granite.

While reading up on the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in preparation for the temple centennial in 1993, Pres. Spencer H. Osborn noted an interesting event. In connection with the dedication, President Wilford Woodruff and his counselors in the First Presidency set aside two days of dedication sessions to include children who were under age 8. (Older children were admitted to general sessions.)

In recognition of that event and the fact that children, unless they are part of a wedding party, seldom have the chance to get close to the Salt Lake Temple, Pres. Osborn conceived an idea. With approval from the First Presidency and in consultation with the Primary general presidency, he invited Primary children in the stakes of the temple district to come for a special tour of the temple exterior.

"About 45,000 Primary children came during three months in the summer," he said. "About 1,000 children came each Saturday of May, June and July

1993T; some weeks there were 2,000."

Temple workers were stationed at various locations, where they explained to the groups of children the significance of the symbols and architectural characteristics of the temple.

"The reaction of those little ones was just heart rending," Pres. Osborn said. "To see them come with folded arms, dressed in their very best clothes and reverently walk around the temple was just a beautiful experience."

"It was quite a dramatic thing for them, coming out the door and encountering that great, big, beautiful temple before their eyes; some of the little ones were really overcome," Pres. Osborn related. "I think it's going to have a lasting effect on some of these little children. One of the girls said, `Oh, I want to be married here!' I think they will remember the experience and the significance of it.

"It really was one of the salient events of the whole year."

St. George Temple

Ground broken Nov. 9, 1871, by President Brigham Young.

  • Dedicated April 6, 1877, with President Young presiding and prayer offered by President Daniel H. Wells. Rededicated Nov. 11, 1975, by President Spencer W. Kimball.
  • Oldest temple still in use, located near the center of St. George, Utah; first temple built after Saints came West.
  • Castellated Gothic style finished with red sandstone plastered white.

ST. GEORGE, UTAH – Only a year and a half after the St. George Temple was dedicated, lightning damaged the dome and the tower.

Janice Force DeMille, in her book The St. George Temple, First 100 Years, recounted the incident, quoting a letter written to President Wilford Woodruff by James G. Bleak:

"We find in repairing the roof, that the hand of the Lord and nothing else, must have saved the building from being burnt at the time the tower was struck by lightning; for, at a place about 24 feet south, from the base of the tower and about 15 inches from the eastern parapet, one of the workmen found the heel of his boot broke through the canvas covering. This led to an examination, and, it was found that one of the roof boards was burst in by lightning.

"Close examination showed but a slight slit through the canvas; although the part of the board missing is some 7 by 24 inches, adjoining the shattered part, indicating that the fire must have smoldered for some time, and that too, right in contact with the tar-covered canvas which covers the roof. We acknowledge the preserving care of the Almighty."

The rebuilt tower was higher, enhancing the majestic appearance of the temple.

Vernal Utah Temple

Located in the Uinta Basin's Ashley Valley in eastern Utah.

  • Dedicated as a tabernacle Aug. 24, 1907, by President Joseph F. Smith; to be the first temple reconditioned for that purpose from an existing building.
  • Plans for the temple publicly announced by the First Presidency Feb. 13, 1994; now in planning stage.

VERNAL, UTAH – Because the 87-year-old Uintah Stake Tabernacle is located within the boundaries of the Vernal Utah Glines Stake, Pres. Laird M. Hartman and his counselors in the stake presidency were asked by the Utah South Area presidency to assume responsibility for it.

"We were concerned about its continuing deterioration," Pres. Hartman recalled. "Our previous stake presidency, as well as a number of other people, had sought direction about what should happen to the tabernacle, but nothing was ever really determined."

Last summer, the stake presidency sent a letter to the area presidency indicating their concerns about the tabernacle. The letter was forwarded to the First Presidency.

"On Nov. 5 of last year, I received a call from Bishop

H. DavidT Burton of the Presiding Bishopric," Pres. Hartman related. "He said that on the 12th, Presidents Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson would drive to Vernal to tour the tabernacle. Bishop Burton accompanied them, and I was asked to give them the tour.

"They arrived at 10 in the morning. We spent approximately two hours touring the tabernacle. Their purpose was to look at its condition and see if they could feel what the Lord wanted them to do with that beautiful old building.

"They talked about a lot of things. They stepped off the dimensions. I tried to stay out of the way and let them feel the Spirit.

"As they left, President Hinckley said, `I don't know what the Lord wants us to do with the building. We will find out.' "

After all the stake presidents in that area were invited to meet with the First Presidency in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City, Pres. Hartman was advised that the Brethren felt impressed that the building ought to be converted into a temple. "I was asked if I felt the people in this valley would support the decision. I indicated they would be very grateful, that this cause would unite our whole community. And it has done that; just the announcement has already unified our whole community."