"The temple is a house of God, a place of love and beauty." (Children's Songbook, p. 95)
These words from a popular Primary song have been verified in the minds and hearts of hundreds of thousands of visitors who have viewed the new Mount Timpanogos Temple during the past six weeks.When the open house concluded Saturday evening, Sept. 21, the official tally showed 679,217 had availed themselves of the complimentary tours.
"People have been touched just by being there," said R. Sherman Robinson, open house coordinator.
The depth of their experience perhaps is reflected in the number of missionary referrals that have resulted. There were 402 from 32 states and 13 countries, Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy said of the number of referrals.
Chairman of the temple committee, Elder Tingey expressed appreciation for the more than 56,000 volunteers who helped with the open house. They included guides, supervisors, some who pushed wheelchairs and others who answered questions on the grounds outside.
"There were thousands who worked on the facilities and grounds, cleaning crews, people who fixed tears in the padding on the carpeting," he noted. Those people are really heroes. All the labor that has been done is a great tribute."
They eagerly responded to calls for help, coming from the 43 stakes in the temple district, which takes in the three stakes in Heber City and Midway, and the stakes in the northern portion of Utah County, including the communities of Alpine, Highland, Lehi, American Fork, Pleasant Grove, Lindon and Orem.
Their dedication is typified in a letter sent to the Church News by Etta Thompson of Pleasant Grove, whose husband, John, 69, was called to help with the open house.
"A gregarious person, he was particularly thrilled to be a supervisor who could visit with the people as they came out of the temple," she wrote. "When I picked him up at 11:30 the morning of Aug. 10 after five hours of duty, he was elated. He had visited with many former high school and college students, with cousins he hadn't seen in years, with longtime friends from Rexburg, Idaho, where we had lived for 28 years, with new friends in Pleasant Grove. In typical fashion, he greeted visitors from many states by extending his hand and saying, `Hello, I'm John Thompson. Where are you from? They usually responded with details of their life experiences."
Later, at the lunch table, surrounded by nine family members, Brother Thompson suffered a heart attack. He died in the hospital 11 hours later.
"We are grateful he spent his last day on earth doing what he loved most – greeting people, serving the Lord and enjoying his family," Sister Thompson wrote.
The temple is now ready to be dedicated to its purpose, providing the ordinances of exaltation to those who qualify themselves. Following a brief cornerstone ceremony Oct. 13, it will be dedicated in 27 separate sessions extending through Oct. 19.
Admission to the dedication is by ticket only. Elder Tingey said tickets may be obtained from bishops and are being distributed to stakes in the temple district and stakes that have requested them in Salt Lake and Utah counties and southern Davis County.
To accommodate Church members wishing to attend, the dedicatory sessions will be transmitted by closed-circuit television to the Salt Lake Tabernacle and to stake centers in Utah County at specific times: two on Sunday, a session each afternoon Tuesday through Friday, and all of the sessions on Saturday. The specific time and place will be indicated on the ticket.
Members who live in the temple district will be given the first opportunities to attend a dedication session in the temple, Elder Tingey explained, though probably not everyone who desires that can be so accommodated. The American Fork Tabernacle will serve as an overflow facility. And even within the temple, he added, only part of the congregation can be in the celestial room, while others will be accommodated in the other rooms of the temple.
"We pray that all those who have an invitation from their bishops will come worthily and participate," he said. "It will be a great experience."