Bear Lake Valley sees ground broken for temple in Montpelier, Idaho

About 600 gather as Elder Ryan K. Olsen says, ‘We are mindful of those who have gone before,’ at temple groundbreaking ceremony

MONTPELIER, Idaho — The memories flowed freely on Saturday morning, June 17, as more than 600 individuals with ties to the Bear Lake Valley came to see the groundbreaking for the Montpelier Idaho Temple.

Grandparents had told bedtime stories about it, local Church leaders had predicted it, and thousands sacrificed to make covenants elsewhere before it would be announced. And on June 17, tears accompanied the memories as shovels turned the dirt, marking the beginning of the temple’s construction in this pioneer-era town located on the Oregon Trail.

“We are mindful of those who have gone before,” said Elder Ryan K. Olsen, the General Authority Seventy who presided at the event and offered the dedicatory prayer on the site.

Elder Ryan K. Olsen and Primary children break ground for the Montpelier Idaho Temple
Elder Ryan K. Olsen, General Authority Seventy, invites Primary children who sang at the groundbreaking of the Montpelier Idaho Temple to turn a shovelful of dirt on Saturday, June 17, 2023. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

“Whether you are a longtime resident or new to the area, this will be your temple,” Elder Olsen said, adding, “Everything in this temple will point us to Jesus Christ.”

The temple’s site and size were released in May 2022, less than seven weeks after the new temple for southeastern Idaho was announced by President Russell M. Nelson in April 2022 general conference. It was one of 17 new temple locations he identified at the time. The Bear Lake Valley extends from Woodruff and Randolph on Utah’s southern half of the valley to Montpelier on Idaho’s northern half of the valley. The lake itself straddles the border of the two states.

Sacrifices past and present

Located next to the Montpelier Tabernacle that was built more than 100 years ago in 1917, the two buildings will serve as reminders of sacrifices of the past and present.

Nolan Phillips from the Montpelier Idaho Stake speaks at the groundbreaking of the Montpelier Idaho Temple on Saturday, June 17, 2023. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

Nolan Phillips, from the Montpelier Idaho Stake, spoke at the groundbreaking of the differences between the time periods of those who sacrificed and built the first temples in Utah and those of today.

“They were all done by muscle power,” Phillips said. The sacrifices made a hundred years ago involved “selling properties, donating savings,” and sometimes making the “multiday journey in winter by snowshoe,” he said.

“Our sacrifice will be to keep the temple busy.”

Sister Barbara Dayton Perry, left, the wife of the late Elder L. Tom Perry and native of nearby Cokeville, Wyoming, participates in the groundbreaking of the Montpelier Idaho Temple on Saturday, June 17, 2023. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

Sister Barbara Dayton Perry, wife of the late Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, grew up in Cokeville, Wyoming, a little more than 30 miles southeast of Montpelier.

“I have a hard time envisioning it,” she said of the new temple. She said many of her friends and family had been excited when the Star Valley Wyoming Temple was dedicated. That was as close as many thought a temple would come to them.

“We had a girls’ chorus when I was in high school, and we were invited to sing in the Logan temple,” she said. “I remember that was the first time ever going to a temple.”

At that time, frequent temple attendance was not a realistic option for the Dayton family.

“At first, it was 90 miles to the temple in Logan. Then it was 50 miles to the temple in Star Valley. Now it’s 30 miles to the temple here,” she said. “But I don’t think we ever thought a temple would come here.”

Temples point to the Savior

Lucy Long, a young woman in the Paris Idaho Stake, also spoke at the event about how the Savior has changed her life.

Lucy Long, a young woman from the Paris Idaho Stake, speaks at the Montpelier Idaho Temple groundbreaking on Saturday, June 17, 2023. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

“There’s no escaping that you’ve gone through more than you thought you could,” she said to those in attendance.

Talking about her own experiences, she admitted that worshipping in the temple hadn’t always been a priority for her.

“I wish it would have been,” she said, adding that serving in the temple has helped her come closer to the Savior. “It has changed my life forever.”

McKay Crane helped organize the groundbreaking and is also a temple worker with his wife at the Star Valley temple, where the two of them serve every Friday. He said the day they serve in the temple is always “the best day of the week” and that he looks forward to sharing the happiness he has felt with those who will serve and worship in the temple in Montpelier.

“The happiest people I know are temple attenders. And I would put exclamations on that,” he said.

Elder Ryan K. Olsen recognizes McKay and Susie Crane, who organized the groundbreaking ceremony of the Montpelier Idaho Temple on Saturday, June 17, 2023. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

Suzie Crane, wife of McKay Crane, also helped organize Saturday’s event.

“The blessings of the temple are so amazing,” she said. “It will bring families together. … Bringing families together will help the whole community.”

Sister Crane said she’s already seen miracles happening in the area since the temple was announced, and she said she knows those will continue to come.

After the ceremony concluded, Elder Olsen shared how the temple is a means to an end.

“At the end of the day, it really draws back to our individual relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ,” Elder Olsen said.

“As much as this is a community event, and the neighbors will drive by and see this beautiful edifice, at the end of the day when individuals are able to go in, it’s all about their personal relationship with [Heavenly Father and His Son].”

Elder Ryan K. Olsen, center, joins with local members at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Montpelier Idaho Temple on Saturday, June 17, 2023. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News
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