Turning his thoughts to a “stalwart part of the Lord’s vineyard” in central Utah, President Russell M. Nelson announced today plans to preserve the “pioneer craftsmanship, artwork and character” of the Manti Utah Temple and to construct a second temple in the area in Ephraim, Utah.
“These decisions will expand future opportunities for members in this temple district to participate in sacred temple ordinances, and at the same time allow us to preserve the unique classical character and useful life of the historic Manti Utah Temple,” said President Nelson.
Addressing members of the temple district and the media via technology from Church headquarters, President Nelson said Church leaders have been giving “much prayerful thought to the hardy pioneers who labored and sacrificed to make it possible for faithful members of the Church to receive their blessings in the Manti Utah Temple. Over time, countless craftsmen, artists and laborers have created this unique treasure.”
He also said leaders have looked forward with “prayerful foresight” to the growing number of Latter-day Saints who now or will live in central Utah and to the thousands of students who will study at Snow College. “We care about their well-being and their future,” he said.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Craig C. Christensen, General Authority Seventy and Utah Area president; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department; Elder Jack N. Gerard, General Authority Seventy and executive director of Church Communications; Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric; and Temple Department managing director Brent Roberts also participated in the meeting which was broadcast from the historic Manti Tabernacle.
The temple in Ephraim, Manti’s neighboring city, will stand less than 10 miles from Temple Hill. The decision to build a second temple in central Utah came “after much study and prayer, and with our deep gratitude for the Lord’s responding to our pleadings,” said President Nelson.
During April 2019 general conference, President Nelson announced the renovation of several pioneer-era temples — including the 74,792-square-foot Manti temple, which requires mechanical upgrades and technology that will allow the ordinances and covenants to be administered in multiple languages. To begin the multiyear project, the Church will close the temple on Oct. 1.
However, he said, as Church leaders sought the direction of the Lord on renovation plans, they were “impressed to modify our earlier plans so that the pioneer craftsmanship, artwork and character will be preserved, including temple murals.” The Church originally planned to remove the historic and valuable murals painted by Minerva Teichert. “We will leave those murals where they are located now — inside the Manti Utah Temple,” said President Nelson.
Elder Rasband said the “divine announcement” brought two words to his mind — “joy” and “rejoicing.” He said the Manti temple preservation efforts and construction of a new temple for Ephraim came by revelation to President Nelson and reflect the “mind, will and direction of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
And although the announcement will affect the 32 stakes in the area, it is an announcement for the “whole Kingdom of God,” said Elder Rasband. The temple in Ephraim will be the Church’s 252nd temple and the 27th in Utah.
Elder Duncan said the new temple in Ephraim will be similar in size to the 36,000-square-foot Brigham City Utah Temple and will serve some 30,000 Latter-day Saints. It will have four 30-seat endowment rooms, three sealing rooms and one baptismal font. Endowment sessions with film presentations will occur every half-hour and will be offered in more than 90 languages.
“Every new temple built upon the earth brings with it an increase of Christlike service, goodness and love of God and of neighbor,” Elder Duncan said. “We are especially thrilled that, similar to students who attend other colleges and universities, students who attend Snow College will now have an easily accessible temple in which to serve and worship.”
Jacob Semadeni, a Snow College student, said a new temple close to campus will be “a special opportunity,” for all the Latter-day Saint students.
That’s because many students at the college are living away from home for the first time and must choose to connect with the Church, added Abby King, who serves on the institute council at Snow College. “We will go and receive the blessings of it,” she said.
The Manti temple renovation will be a mix of preservation, restoration and installation of new equipment, said Roberts.
Research has been done on many aspects, he said, including soil composition, limestone strength, concrete and plaster sampling, water infiltration methodologies and historic aspects of the original temple design. Current mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems will be evaluated, renewed or replaced. Audiovisual equipment will be installed for the film presentations. And work will be done to eliminate or control water infiltration into the temple, primarily on its east wall and footing, he said.
Church leaders announced plans to construct the Manti temple June 25, 1875. Church President Brigham Young broke ground April 25, 1877, and President Wilford Woodruff, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dedicated the temple on May 21, 1888. “Show favor unto all who have helped to forward this work by good wishes, good words or good deeds,” he prayed.
Almost a century later, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, rededicated the temple following renovation in June 1985. Asking the Lord to sanctify the temple, he prayed that “all who will enter it through the years to come, may feel the presence of Thy Spirit and recognize that they are in holy precincts.”
The Church’s fifth temple and third temple dedicated in Utah, the Manti Utah Temple can be seen for miles in the Sanpete Valley.