A surprise host, President Russell M. Nelson, headlines groundbreaking for Heber Valley LDS Temple

98-year-old leader helps launch official construction of Utah’s 28th existing or planned temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson speaks at the Heber Valley Temple groundbreaking Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

For the second time in six weeks, President Russell M. Nelson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made a surprise appearance at a groundbreaking for a new Utah temple.

On Aug. 27, it was in Ephraim. On Saturday, it was just outside Heber City.

“Today, we will begin the work by breaking ground for a temple in this unique and wonderful valley,” the 98-year-old prophet-president said. “I love you all and wholeheartedly rejoice with you.”

The two-spired, three-story, 88,000-square-foot Heber Valley Temple will rise on a 17.9-acre parcel southeast of 1400 E. Center St. Announced a year ago by Nelson during the faith’s General Conference, the structure will be the first in rapidly growing Wasatch County and the church’s 28th existing or planned temple in the Beehive State.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) An artist's rendering of the Heber Valley Temple on display at a groundbreaking Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

During his remarks, Nelson lauded George Holmes Sr., the original owner of the land where the temple will rest, according to a news release. Descended from immigrant parents and a World War II veteran, Holmes bought the acreage with his wife, Clara, in 1946.

“For years, [George Sr.] had dreamt of building a forever home with his beloved Clara,” Nelson said. “In a very real way, his dream will be realized.”

The world’s 16.8 million Latter-day Saints view a temple as a House of the Lord, a place where the faithful participate in their religion’s highest rites, including eternal marriage.

On Sunday, at the close of the Salt Lake City-based church’s latest General Conference, Nelson announced 18 new temples would be built in nine nations across the globe, bringing the total named during his nearly five-year presidency to 118 and the faith’s worldwide tally of existing or planned temples to 300.

It marked the second straight conference when no new Utah temples were announced.

There are currently 14 temples operating in the state, and three more — the pioneer-era Salt Lake, St. George and Manti structures — are undergoing renovation. Besides Heber Valley, temples also are planned or under construction in Ephraim, Layton, Lindon, Orem, Saratoga Springs, Smithfield, St. George (a second one, called the Red Cliffs Temple), Syracuse, Taylorsville and Tooele.