In an unexpected ‘crowning moment,’ LDS apostle Jeffrey Holland rededicates a historic temple in his hometown

“We need to try to be outside the temple,” the church leader urges members, “the way we are inside the temple.”

Utah’s oldest operating Latter-day Saint temple is now its newest.

On Sunday, apostle Jeffrey Holland of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints returned to his childhood roots to rededicate the renovated St. George Temple.

“I’m old enough that I don’t know how many crowning moments I’ll have left, but this is surely a special experience,” Holland, who turned 83 a week ago and has been recovering from a touch-and-go hospital stay last summer, said in a news release. “[This opportunity is] unanticipated, not expected, but dearly, deeply appreciated. … This is special to me because it’s the temple I grew up with as a child. And it’s where I was baptized, it’s where I was endowed, it’s where my wife (Pat died in July) and I were sealed.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland with his son, general authority Seventy Matthew Holland, in front of the St. George Temple before the first session of the rededication on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023.

Emeritus general authority Steven Snow, who previously served as church historian and recorder, echoed those deep connections to this 146-year-old landmark in southwestern Utah.

“This has always been a part of our lives,” Snow, who grew up just blocks away from the temple, said in the release. “We would always come on a Sunday afternoon, our family, and walk around the temple. I feel a real strong connection personally to this temple. I love it. I believe it’s one of the most beautiful temples in the church.”

The glistening building, originally completed in 1877, underwent nearly four years of renovations. It includes new millwork, altars, cabinets and baseboards to more closely reflect the initial pioneer-era handiwork.

Perhaps less noticeable, but no less vital, new mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems were installed, and crews strengthened the temple’s structural integrity.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Furniture details in the St. George Temple.

The red sandstone edifice, plastered over in white, also is surrounded by new plazas that improve access to entrances and provide gathering spaces for guests.

“The landscape around the temple is both waterwise and familiar to patrons who are familiar with the St. George Temple,” Andy Kirby, director of the church’s historic temple renovations, said in the release. “[The grounds have] a parklike feel. We reduced the total amount of lawn area and increased the amount of plant area and used plants that are appropriate for this arid climate…. It’s beautiful.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The St. George Temple.

As impressive as the new environs may be, though, Holland focused his remarks on what takes place inside the building in his native St. George.

“The temple is an ultimate symbol of our journey along what has in recent years commonly been called the covenant path,” said Holland, who last month was named acting president of the global faith’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “The absolute universal experience is to feel that you’re in [God’s] presence, to walk where he would walk. We go there to be like him. We go there to feel what he was and what he would have us be. And that’s why we go to his house.”

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

“We need to try to be outside the temple the way we are inside the temple,” the apostle said. “We need to remember the pledges and the promises and the hopes and the dreams. If we could take those outside the temple, we’d change the world.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The Red Cliffs Temple in St. George will open to tours in February.

Next year, St. George will boast a second Latter-day Saint temple. The freshly built Red Cliffs Temple will welcome public tours from Feb. 1 through March 2 before a scheduled March 24 dedication.

The Salt Lake City-based faith has 28 planned or existing temples in the Beehive State.