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A first-ever distinction: St. George will be home to Church’s oldest and newest temples

St. George, Utah, will be home to the Church of Jesus Christ’s oldest and newest houses of the Lord — the historic St. George Utah Temple, dedicated in 1877, and the Red Cliffs Utah Temple, to be dedicated Sunday, March 24

ST. GEORGE, Utah — For a brief, five-week period beginning Sunday, March 24, the city of St. George will claim a first in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — a distinction that may never be repeated.

With Sunday’s dedication of the Red Cliffs Utah Temple, the city will be home to both the Church’s oldest and the newest operating temples, along with the historic St. George Utah Temple, which was dedicated in 1877.

The new Red Cliffs Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is shown Friday, March 24, 2023, in St. George, Utah. | Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

Also, St. George becomes the fourth city worldwide with two dedicated houses of the Lord.

The others are:

The new Red Cliffs Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is shown Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, in St. George, Utah. | Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, will dedicate the Red Cliffs Utah Temple Sunday, with the two dedicatory sessions — at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. — to be broadcast to all units throughout the temple district.

On Sunday, the Red Cliffs temple becomes the Church’s 189th dedicated house of the Lord worldwide, one of a total 335 temples worldwide that are dedicated, under construction or announced and in planning.

The Red Cliffs temple dedication comes on the heels of the rededication of the renovated St. George Utah Temple, the Church’s oldest house of the Lord still in operation. President Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a native of St. George, rededicated that temple on Dec. 10, three months ago.

St. George having the oldest and newest temples will last for a little more than a month — until the April 28 dedication of the Urdaneta Philippines Temple by President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency. After that, the oldest-to-newest distinction would only happen if and when a third temple is built in St. George proper.

President Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, middle, stands outside the St. George Utah Temple on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, with, from left, Elder Brian K. Taylor, a General Authority Seventy; Elder Matthew S. Holland, a General Authority Seventy; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department; and Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé. | Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

A mere 3.5 miles and highway I-15 separate St. George’s two houses the Lord, from the first sitting near the center of St. George at 250 E. 400 South to the latest located at 1555 S. Red Cliffs Temple Lane in the city’s southeastern reaches.

It is the third-shortest direct distance between two Church temples, behind only the 2.4 miles that separate the two in Provo and the 3.1 miles between the two in South Jordan.

Background of the Red Cliffs Utah Temple

St. George’s newest house of the Lord originally was referred to as the Washington County Utah Temple when President Russell M. Nelson announced plans in October 2018 general conference for a second temple in the area. The Washington County name was still referenced when the site location — northeast of 3000 East and 1580 South in southeastern St. George — and preliminary building size were published a year later, in November 2019.

The First Presidency later approved the new name, the Red Cliffs Utah Temple, in June 2020.

Then-Elder Holland presided at the Nov. 7, 2020, groundbreaking. Joined there by his wife, the late Sister Patricia T. Holland, their three children and extended family members, Elder Holland said his thoughts of the future temple turned to “coming home” to the house of the Lord.

Sister Patricia Holland and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dig their shovels into the dirt at the groundbreaking service for the Red Cliffs Utah Temple in St. George, Utah, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. | Nick Adams, for the Deseret News

“As we talk about home, safety, peace and people who love you, that is a description of the temple — it is the safest, the most welcoming and reassuring place in the world,” he said.

Temples are filled with love and people who will “help and encourage you,” he added.

“The symbolism of our coming home is for me a nice metaphor of coming home to the house of the Lord and being surrounded by people on both sides of the veil — angels, living and deceased — who love you and watch out for you. That is really home. That is the safest, happiest, most family-oriented place in the world.”

On Oct. 16, 2023, the First Presidency announced the dedication and open house dates for the Red Cliffs temple.

The Red Cliffs Utah Temple.
The Red Cliffs Utah Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Temples in Utah

The Red Cliffs and St. George temples are two of 28 total dedicated, awaiting dedication or under construction in the state of Utah, home of the Church’s world headquarters and nearly 2.2 million Latter-day Saints.

Utah’s other currently operating temples are the Bountiful, Brigham City, Cedar City, Draper, Jordan River, Logan, Monticello, Mount Timpanogos, Ogden, Oquirrh Mountain, Orem, Payson, Provo City Center, Saratoga Springs and Vernal temples.

The Salt Lake and Manti temples are under renovation, along with the reconstruction of the Provo Utah Rock Canyon Temple. The Manti temple is scheduled for rededication on April 21.

The Taylorsville Utah Temple is scheduled for dedication on June 2 and the Layton Utah Temple two weeks later on June 16. Six other Utah temples are under construction — Deseret Peak, Ephraim, Heber Valley, Lindon, Smithfield and Syracuse.

The Red Cliffs Utah Temple.
The Red Cliffs Utah Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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