Mormon Church to open new Oquirrh Mountain temple for public tours

Published May 22, 2009 6:00 pm
LDS Church » Faith will have 130 temples in operation worldwide.
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Utahns have a chance to step inside the newest LDS temple this summer -- with or without a "recommend" card from a Mormon bishop.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has completed work on the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple, perched on a bluff near 11000 South and 4000 West in South Jordan.

The church will conduct tours of the site in June and July, before the temple is dedicated for use solely by faithful Latter-day Saints. Mormons attend temples to participate in religious ceremonies they believe make it possible for them and their families to return to the presence of God after death.

The LDS Church opens newly constructed temples to the public partly to dispel notions that Mormons are secretive.

"We don't quite get that," Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said Wednesday at a private tour of the temple. "We have over 18,000 chapels scattered around the Earth, with 52,000 missionaries trying to drag everyone in to worship with us."

With its dedication, the Oquirrh Mountain temple will become the faith's 130th in operation. And South Jordan, also home to the Jordan River temple, will be the only city in the world with two such edifices.

"That is a remarkable, tangible testament to the growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here in its heartland," said Michael Otterson, the church's managing director of public affairs.

The Salt Lake Valley, home to LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, now has four temples, including one that opened in Draper earlier this year and the century-old Salt Lake temple.

The Oquirrh Mountain temple is intended to serve about 83,000 members of the faith along the Oquirrh range from Bluffdale to Magna. Like other LDS temples, it contains a series of small rooms used for religious instruction, contemplation and ceremonies, such as weddings, in which couples are "sealed" together for the eternity. Mormons also perform temple ordinances, including baptism, for deceased ancestors.

"We're not a secret society, but we are one that is very sacred, performing sacred ordinances in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ," Ballard said.

The new temple features a granite exterior and translucent glass, with decorative stars, circles and flutes, crafted by John Quist of Salt Lake City. As at the Draper temple, Linda Curley Christensen, with the help of LDS volunteers, painted original murals on some interior walls.

The lobby and reception desk, where Mormons must show their "recommends" to prove they are worthy to enter, is covered in gold and beige limestone tile. A double grand staircase ascends to the second level where a series of rooms represent Mormon beliefs about progression from Earth to heaven. The hallway gradually inclines toward the "celestial room," which symbolizes the realm of God. In the room, the ceiling soars to cathedral-like heights and a 15-foot crystal chandelier hangs in the center.

LDS officials anticipate that the new temple, because of the young population in the southwest Salt Lake Valley, will have a high demand for weddings.

The temple boasts a large powder room for brides, with four stations and gilded mirrors. There is also space to perform six sealing ceremonies at once.

The temple was designed by Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects and built by Okland Construction. Both firms are based in Salt Lake City.

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Tour the Oquirrh Mountain Temple

What » The public is invited to see the new South Jordan temple before it is dedicated Aug. 21-23.

When » June 1 through Aug. 1, excluding Sundays, July 4 and July 24.

Where » 11022 S. 4000 West, South Jordan.

Reservations » Required and can be made at http://www.lds.org/reservations or by calling 800-521-5105 or 801-240-7645.



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