How the Pocatello Idaho Temple is leading to more service and unity in the community

In the two months since the Pocatello Idaho Temple open house and dedication, Church members and their neighbors have seen blessings of increased cooperation, respect and love around the southeastern Idaho community.

The blessings promised for the area are coming to pass.

“Finally, we pray for those in these communities who do not share our faith, that they may revere and respect this holy temple and that all the community might be lifted and edified by its presence,” prayed President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, on Sunday, Nov. 7, when he dedicated the new Pocatello Idaho Temple. “May Thy influence emanate from these sacred temple grounds and bring added goodness and prosperity within the temple’s far-reaching shadow.”

In March 2019, when Elder Wilford W. Andersen, a General Authority Seventy and president of the former Idaho Area, gave a dedicatory prayer at the groundbreaking of the Pocatello Idaho Temple, he noted the blessings that await a community that will soon become a “temple city.”

The Pocatello Idaho Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is seen lit up Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.
The Pocatello Idaho Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is seen lit up Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. Credit: Drew Nash, for the Deseret News

And Pocatello is now a “temple city,” with community members from different faiths and backgrounds remarking on the beauty of the building and the change they feel in their lives, explained the Pocatello area JustServe coordinator Amy Shelton.

Shelton said whenever she has volunteered, visited an organization or talked with others around the area since the temple open house, they talk to her about their experience taking a tour or seeing the temple on the hill.

“A recurring theme seems to be, ‘Oh, our temple is so beautiful,’” Shelton said. “It’s really tender to hear people who are not of our faith or maybe of no faith at all to share in the excitement and to feel as though this Pocatello Idaho Temple belongs to our whole community.”

How the Pocatello temple open house tours changed hearts

Shelton serves alongside several nonprofit organizations and other charitable organizations in her role with JustServe. (JustServe.org is a website that connects organizations with volunteers.) Shelton was able to attend specially scheduled open house tours with several of her community partners in September.

Amy Shelton, the Pocatello area JustServe coordinator, with Sister Mary Colman Pyle and Beth Huston after a tour of the Pocatello Idaho Temple on Sept. 17, 2021.  Sister Mary Colman Pyle is the director of social services at St. Vincent de Paul and Beth Huston is the manager of the St. Vincent de Paul Store.
Amy Shelton, the Pocatello area JustServe coordinator, with Sister Mary Colman Pyle and Beth Huston after a tour of the Pocatello Idaho Temple on Sept. 17, 2021.  Sister Mary Colman Pyle is the director of social services at St. Vincent de Paul and Beth Huston is the manager of the St. Vincent de Paul Store. Credit: Amy Shelton

“One of the tours I was on, one of the tour guides said, ’Having a temple here means that we will hopefully have people who are better neighbors,’” said Shelton. “He was saying that when we leave the temple, we should be trying to be better community members and neighbors. Part of that is looking around and seeing, how can I help? And what can I do to serve?”

Read more: Latter-day Saints, community members blessed by President Ballard in the Pocatello temple dedicatory prayer

Shelton recalled as she and other community members concluded an open-house tour and exited the temple, they immediately started brainstorming ways they could better work together. And they have been doing so ever since.

“When we serve side by side with our neighbors, we develop a kinship with each other and realize that we have more in common than we do differences. When we are working together to serve in our community, everyone benefits,” she said.

Other JustServe specialists who went on these special tours reported a greater sense of unity with the organizations they work with, too, Shelton said.

How the Pocatello temple is leading to greater connection

President Camille N. Johnson, Primary general president, was born in Pocatello and raised there until the age of 9. She joined other general authorities during the media tours for the temple on Sept. 13. 

“Having a house of the Lord in these foothills is just such a blessing for the members and the nonmembers,” President Johnson said that day. “I think this whole community will be blessed by having the light of the temple here. I am especially confident that the young people in this area are going to be blessed because the temple is here.”

A clipping from the St. Vincent de Paul newsletter about their tour of the Pocatello temple on Sept. 17, 2021.
A clipping from the St. Vincent de Paul newsletter about their tour of the Pocatello temple on Sept. 17, 2021. Credit: St Vincent de Paul newsletter

Shelton knows it is already happening, because of what she has seen since the temple was dedicated. And she believes 2022 will continue these blessings as people connect more with each other.

“We are seeing that as we are talking with different organizations and volunteers — it’s something they are craving, that connection,” Shetlon said. “So we are hoping to facilitate more of those opportunities in the new year.”

Read more: Ahead of temple dedication, Pocatello area youth invited to follow the Savior as their hero

And Shelton said the temple is at the heart of it, because everything in the temple points to the Savior and becoming like Him.

“So when we enter the temple to learn more about how we can become like our Savior, we should leave with a desire to reflect His love in our community. One way to accomplish this is to serve side by side with our neighbors,” said Shelton.

“There are so many wonderful organizations in the Pocatello area helping to make our community better and serving others. When we join with them to serve and support their work, we are helping to reflect the Savior’s love in our community.”