LDS apostle Gerrit Gong breaks ground for new Taylorsville Temple

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Susan, participate in the groundbreaking of the Taylorsville Temple on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020.

A Halloween Day groundbreaking officially launched construction of the Taylorsville Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Apostle Gerrit W. Gong, who emerged more than two weeks ago from quarantine after contracting COVID-19, presided at the small-scale, socially distanced ceremony.

“Gathered in these times, in person and via technology, we acknowledge and rejoice with faithful generations, including in historic ‘over Jordan’ communities, who have, here at heart, made this valley home,” the 66-year-old Gong prayed in dedicating the 7.5-acre site at 2603 W. 4700 South, according to a Saturday news release. “We celebrate the continuing legacy and promise of their righteous lives and examples.”

Gong, the faith’s first Asian American apostle, attended the groundbreaking with his wife, Susan, who the church has reported also experienced “very mild symptoms” from the coronavirus earlier in October.

After the Gongs' diagnosis, other top Latter-day Saint leaders, including 96-year-old President Russell M. Nelson, all tested negative for COVID-19.

The three-story, 70,000-square-foot Taylorsville Temple will serve Latter-day Saints along Utah’s Jordan River corridor, including those in Kearns, West Valley City, Taylorsville, Bennion and Murray. A previously released rendering shows the Taylorsville Temple will not have a golden Angel Moroni statue atop its single spire.

It is one of 25 Latter-day Saint temples operating (albeit under COVID-19 limitations), announced, under construction or under renovation in Utah.

(Image courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) An artist's rendering, released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of the Taylorsville Utah Temple.

“We’re just watching the temples start to dot this land,” general authority Seventy Craig C. Christensen, the faith’s Utah area president, said in the release. “It’s a reflection of the strength of the saints in Utah.”

The Beehive State, where the church is headquartered, is home to about 13% of the global faith’s members and nearly 11% of its planned or operating temples.

Latter-day Saints view temples as “Houses of the Lord,” places where the faithful participate in the church’s most sacred rituals, including eternal marriages.