Salvaged and reborn from ashes, Provo City Center Temple is dedicated

PROVO, UTAH

The Provo City Center Temple, the 150th operating temple in the Church and the second in Provo, was dedicated March 20, salvaged from the ashes and scorched walls of the pioneer-era Provo Tabernacle as if to symbolize the spiritual rebirth and renewal that comes from receiving temple blessings and returning frequently.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, whose boyhood roots run deep in Provo and the surrounding Utah Valley, presided over the first two of three dedicatory sessions throughout the day. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided over the third session.

Elder Oaks conducted the traditional cornerstone ceremony near the beginning of the first session, while the sun rising over the Wasatch Mountains to the east bathed the red sandstone of the temple’s wall in a brilliant glow under an all-but-cloudless, royal-blue sky.

“Thank you to the many who have gathered here on University Avenue to witness this symbolic completion of the Provo City Center Temple,” Elder Oaks said to about 300 onlookers gathered on the temple grounds on the east side. “That symbolic completion is our placing some mortar around this portion of the temple, which represents in a symbolic way the cornerstone and which will have a box of important artifacts placed within it.”

He quipped, “We’ll now proceed to put the mortar beside a portion of this stone, and later learned professionals will finish the job in an appropriate way.”

With a trowel and spatula Elder Oaks applied a dab of mortar and then invited his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, to do the same. They were followed in turn by Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Jan Robbins; Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Marsha Richards; President Allen Ostergar and Sister Nancy Ostergar, the newly called temple president and matron; and the counselors in the temple presidency with the assistant matrons, their wives.

“The most dangerous part of this ceremony is for those who are wearing white suits,” Elder Oaks joked. “Now that the most dangerous part of the ceremony has been concluded, it’s customary for us to have some representatives of the rising generation — who will be using this temple for the decades and centuries to come — to come forward, and so we have invited a young man and a young woman to come and represent all the rest of you by putting the final touches on the ceremonial addition of the mortar.”

The two were Dylan Edwards, 12, and his sister, Malaia, 7, brought forward by Elder Richards.

Their mother, Carlie, said the youngsters were chosen on the spur of the moment to receive the opportunity.

Their father, Dave, said, “We got up early this morning just thinking that maybe there was a chance, so we got here thinking where would be the best spot to be in and thought this was it. We felt really blessed to have a General Authority pick our son and daughter out to be part of the temple cornerstone ceremony.”

Dylan said he felt sad when he heard the news of the fire that destroyed the tabernacle on Dec. 17, 2010. Then, when President Thomas S. Monson announced in general conference on Oct. 1, 2011, that the structure would be restored and converted into a temple, Dylan didn’t think at first that he had heard the prophet correctly.

He said he has been anticipating the completion of the temple for a long time, and that he took part in the youth cultural celebration held the night before the dedication.

Dylan looks forward, he said, to doing baptisms for the dead in the newly completed temple and maybe one day being married therein.

A choir consisting of Church members from throughout the temple district was situated near the cornerstone and performed several prelude selections prior to the ceremony, including “On This Day of Joy and Gladness.” One bystander commented how appropriate the hymn seemed for the setting.

The choir director, Rebecca McLaughlin of the Slate Canyon 10th Ward, Provo Utah Stake, said several choirs were organized to perform not just for the cornerstone ceremony but for individual dedicatory sessions, all with the coordination of Kathy Henison.

Sister McLaughlin said that in nine weeks of practice, “everything came together, and we built a little bit of a Zion community within the choir. It was really a beautiful experience.”

One of many small miracles, she said, was her arrangement in which two hymns, “Holy Temples on Mount Zion” (Hymns, No. 289) and “The Spirit of God” (Hymns, No. 2) were sung simultaneously, solely with violin accompaniment.

Months ago, she was asked to lead a stake Relief Society chorus in singing “Holy Temples on Mount Zion.” She and her husband, David, were wondering what hymn might work well with it as a medley.

“We were thinking about what hymns are temple related, and so, of course, ‘The Spirit of God’ came to mind. We started singing it, and I said, ‘Why don’t you sing with me and let’s just see if the two melodies fit together.’”

To their delight, they found the songs did indeed work together, with the exception of a couple of measures, which had to be altered for harmonic consistency.

She enlisted the help of her close friend, violinst Cynthia Richards, concert mistress with the Utah Valley Symphony.

The arrangement was later adapted for a ward choir performance and eventually was placed among the selections for the cornerstone ceremony choir.

“As I was putting the songs together, I could see in my mind’s eye the pioneers, because they were so connected with the Provo Tabernacle,” Sister McLaughlin said. “I thought of how Brigham Young had put a violin in every company as the pioneers crossed the plains. I could hear them in my mind’s ear gathering near the campfire at the end of each day and playing the violin and singing. I thought how much they would rejoice with this temple here today, and our remembering them and honoring them by the Church turning the tabernacle into a temple.”

One of the bass singers in the choir was Bill Hendrickson of the Bonneville 10th Ward, Provo Utah Bonneville Stake. He said about two months ago, just after he and his wife, Debbie, were set apart as ordinance workers for the new temple, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Surgery was performed Jan. 16. The next day was the scheduled first rehearsal for the choir.

“I wasn’t sure whether I should leave Debbie at that time to go sing in the choir,” he said. “She wanted me to go, but I wasn’t really sure.”

As the time approached for the rehearsal, he said, he heard a quiet but distinct voice say, “Aren’t you going to sing in My choir?”

“I thought, ‘Of course I will.’”

So with his wife’s support, he has been involved in the choir.

“We’ve dedicated these two months,” he said.

Sister Hendrickson is doing very well, with a good prognosis. She has had no physical repercussions, and with each choir rehearsal, her strength and well-being have improved, Brother Hendrickson said.

“The choir has meant a lot to me and my wife in helping her spiritually and helping her to recover,” he said.

The Provo City Center Temple serves 29 stakes in the Provo and Springville areas, including student and single-adult stakes.

Between Jan. 15 and March 5, more than 800,000 people attended open-house tours of the temple.

A cultural celebration entitled “Beauty from Ashes” and featuring music and dancing by more than 4,500 youth performers was held the night before the dedication (see accompanying article on pages 6 and 7).

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