But the dedication of the new Orem Utah Temple “marks a milestone in the progress of the kingdom of God on the earth, and particularly in this vital part of His vineyard,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Christofferson dedicated the three-story, 71,998-square-foot temple on a chilly, drizzly Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, in two sessions at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson.
Also participating were Elder Patrick Kearon of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Jennifer Kearon; Elder Hugo E. Martinez, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Utah Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Nuria Alvarez de Martinez; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Nancy Duncan; and Elder Jonathan S. Schmitt, General Authority Seventy and assistant executive director of the Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Alexis Schmitt.
Built in a prominent, visible location just off Interstate 15 and near Utah Valley University, the Orem temple is the state’s 19th dedicated house of the Lord, with another nine temples awaiting dedication or under construction.
Elder Christofferson said when Church members leave the temple, their problems and challenges haven’t changed; but their perspectives have changed, becoming more sure and accurate, he said.
“We now see that what had seemed overwhelming and impossible can, with the Lord’s help, find resolution, and we are more certain of His help,” he said, adding that the temple also helps people realize what small matters need attention so they don’t become more serious issues. “In short, with our time in the temple we have been refined, even if only in a small degree, and heaven is that much closer.”
Elder Kearon said Church members attend the temple to receive solace, peace and refuge at any time, but especially when they feel lost. In the temple, individuals learn more deeply of their eternal identities and of their limitless potential for good and growth, he said.
“In this sacred space, our true selves can be found, as we leave the distractions and pettiness of the world outside and receive an extra measure of the Spirit of the Lord to help us hear His still, small voice and meet the demands of life,” Elder Kearon said. “We can be found here in the temple because here in the temple, we find Jesus Christ. ... Everything else from the outside world just falls away. You belong again.”
A blessing to the community
In many ways, the Orem temple’s dedication is the culmination of the area’s long, rich history of faith.
Elder Christofferson shared some of that history, noting that Latter-day Saints first entered the Orem area — known for many years as the Provo Bench — in the spring of 1849, when Brigham Young sent several dozen families to establish Fort Utah along the Provo River.
The year 1883 saw the creation of the Provo Bench Branch, with Franklin F. Carter as president. Two years later, it became the Timpanogos Ward, with Peter M. Wentz as bishop.
The settlement didn’t have a permanent name until 1919, when “Orem” was chosen in honor of Walter C. Orem, president of the electric interurban railroad line between Salt Lake and Provo.
Ten years later, Orem’s first stake, the Sharon Stake, was formed by Elder Stephen L. Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The second, the Orem Utah Stake, was organized in 1947 by Elders Ezra Taft Benson and Mark E. Petersen.
Elder Christofferson said “explosive” population growth during the second half of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st century led to many more stakes and to the creation of the Utah Orem Mission.
“Today we dedicate this magnificent temple, a testament to the faith of many generations, with the promise of more faithful, covenant-keeping generations to come,” he said.
Orem is also known for its history of fruit growing, as documented by Ronald Stoddard, historian for the Orem temple’s dedication committee. After 1919, when residents named the settlement Orem, trainloads of fruit traveled on Walter Orem’s railroad, earning the area the nickname “Garden City of Utah.”
Much of the temple’s interior design is a nod to this legacy of fruit growing, with a cherry tree motif — including its blossoms, leaves, fruit and branches — being particularly prominent.
Stoddard, who was born in Provo and raised in Orem, said it’s deeply meaningful to him having a temple in his boyhood home.
“The Spirit is so strong even before [the temple] is dedicated,” he said. “There’s been experience after experience of people coming to the open house and feeling such a spirit of peace and love. It’s just been a thrill to see the changes in the lives of people.”
Elder Robert T. Smith, an Area Seventy in the Utah Area, also commented on how the house of the Lord will bless many lives. He compared the Orem temple to the Nauvoo Temple, which was built so it could be seen along the Mississippi River.
Similarly, the Orem temple is built near I-15, “the modern-day Mississippi River, where people travel up and down, north and south [through] Utah,” Elder Smith said. “So many people will be able to see it and reflect upon Jesus Christ and our beliefs in … the eternal nature of the family.”
Local Church members are “thrilled” to have this temple, he said, because with the Provo Utah Temple and the Provo City Center Temple both so close, they never imagined they’d get a temple of their own. “So this was a joy and an unexpected, miraculous surprise for them.”
Elder Smith recalled that as a boy, his grandmother shared with him her “faith-filled expectation” that someday people would see from one temple to another. At that time, there were fewer than 20 temples in the world, he said; but on a recent visit to the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple, Elder Smith looked out from the building’s east side and saw multiple other temples.
“I feel like we’re living in the days when the revelations of the prophets are bringing to pass the prophecies of old and the inspired feelings of faithful Church members. This beautiful temple is part of fulfilling that prophetic destiny,” Elder Smith said.
A blessing to young adults
While the Orem temple is a blessing to the entire community, it’s especially meaningful to young adults.
With nearly 45,000 students at Utah Valley University — located just a stone’s throw from the new temple — and almost 35,000 students at nearby Brigham Young University, young adults can “count [the Orem temple] as their temple,” said Elizabeth Mella, who served with her husband, Glen Mella, as a coordinator for the Orem temple open house and dedication committee.
Glen Mella said many local young adults are currently training to be temple workers, and he’s confident the temple will operate at or near capacity from the very start.
He hopes that as young adults attend the temple, they’ll feel the power that comes from renewing their covenants.
The temple is a “daily battery charge that young people will see just by looking at it, and then hopefully participating in what it has to offer inside,” Glen Mella said.
Orem Utah YSA 4th Stake President John Bingham said temple leadership has asked for as many young single adult ordinance workers as possible — and they’ve answered the call, with an “amazing” number approaching their bishops and stake presidents because they want to serve in the house of the Lord.
President Bingham said about 10,000 young adults live within a two-mile radius of the new temple, and they’re coming to understand that, in many ways, it was built for them.
Today’s young single adults face so much uncertainty, President Bingham said, and so much competing for their attention. But young adults who spend time in the temple find greater peace, assurance and connection to a loving Heavenly Father, and greater realization of the power they gain from living their covenants.
“They’ll be able to hear the voice of the Lord as it relates to their own lives and … things that they are trying to decide that are critical to their futures,” he said. “So all of that, I think, is part of why [the Orem temple] is so important.”
‘We need temples everywhere’
Hundreds of Church members braved the wet, gray day to attend the dedication. Among them were Zach Dewitz and Kenadee Houghton, young adults from Sandy and Elk Ridge, Utah, respectively.
Both shared how strongly they felt the Spirit during the dedication service, with Dewitz saying it left him “speechless.”
As a Utah Valley University student, Dewitz said a temple being so close to campus makes him want to attend the temple “all the time. … As stressful as our lives [are] today, [the temple] definitely makes our lives a lot easier and a lot better.”
Nicole Riley, from Vineyard, Utah, said the temple is about centering people on Jesus Christ. Now, with a new temple so close to home, she can put greater focus on her Savior.
Riley said she was reminded during the dedication of her covenants — “the importance of them, to keep them and to strengthen my faith” — and of how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love her.
Also in attendance were Orem residents Sharon and Doug Faragher and their children: Brigham, Jackson and Sister Erika Faragher, who is a local service missionary.
Sharon Faragher said it’s “such a blessing” to have a temple in her own backyard. She’s especially looking forward to delving deeper into her Korean family history and bringing her children to the temple to complete ordinances for their ancestors.
Sister Faragher shared how, as a child, she asked her parents why there wasn’t a temple in Orem. They always told her it was because there was already a temple in Provo; but now, “having one here just shows that actually we do need temples. We need temples everywhere.”
Where does the Orem temple fit in with other Utah temples?
The three-story edifice with a single attached central spire is located on a 15.39-acre tract at 1451 S. 1100 West in Orem, just west of I-15 and Utah Valley University. The First Presidency announced the temple site on Dec. 11, 2019, and released the exterior rendering on June 24, 2020.
It was the first of the eight to begin construction when Elder Craig C. Christensen, a General Authority Seventy and then president of the Utah Area, presided at the Sept. 5, 2020, groundbreaking ceremony.
The temple’s dedication date, announced by the First Presidency in June 2023, drew increased interest since President Nelson had announced plans to reconstruct the Provo Utah Temple, located less than five miles away. That closure is scheduled for Feb. 24, 2024.
The Orem temple is one of the Church’s 28 total temples — dedicated, under construction or renovation — in Utah.
The state’s currently operating temples are the Bountiful, Brigham City, Cedar City, Draper, Jordan River, Logan, Monticello, Mount Timpanogos, Ogden, Oquirrh Mountain, Payson, Provo, Provo City Center, Saratoga Springs and Vernal temples.
In addition to the Orem temple’s dedication, the Red Cliffs Utah Temple’s dedication is scheduled for March 2024, and houses of the Lord in Layton and Taylorsville are scheduled to be dedicated in June 2024.
Orem temple quick facts
Address: 1451 S. 1100 West, Orem, UT 84058
Announced: Oct. 5, 2019, by President Russell M. Nelson.
Groundbreaking: Sept. 5, 2020, by Elder Craig C. Christensen, General Authority Seventy and Utah Area president.
Dedicated: Jan. 21, 2024, by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Public open house: Friday, Oct. 27, through Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023 (excluding Sundays and Thanksgiving Day).
Property size: 15.39 acres.
Building size: 71,998 square feet.
Building height: 218 feet, including the spire.