New LDS temple unlike others in the area

Published: Saturday, Jan. 10 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Elder M. Russell Ballard speaks at a media briefing and tour for the Draper Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

DRAPER — The new Draper Temple of the LDS Church is unlike any other temple along the Wasatch Front.

That's because it is smaller, has its own design, features some unique artwork, lacks a patron cafeteria and has no clothing rental facilities.

A contingent of more than three dozen media members took a 90-minute tour of the new temple Friday. The general public can tour temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, until they are dedicated.

Public open houses of the Draper Temple begin Jan. 15 and go through March 14. The temple will be dedicated March 20-22.

Nestled in Corner Canyon in the southeast foothills of the Salt Lake Valley at 14065 S. Canyon Vista Lane, this temple (and the Oquirrh Temple now under construction in South Jordan's Daybreak community) will ease pressure on the Jordan River Utah Temple. It will serve approximately 60,000 church members in the Draper area.

This will be the 129th operating temple in the world, the 12th in Utah and the third in Salt Lake County.

"This is a great event for us as the dedication of any temple is," Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said. "This is a great time for the church to dedicate another house unto the Lord."

Elder William R. Walker, executive director of the church's temple department, described the Draper Temple as "medium-sized," among the church's other temples. He said it is about one-fourth the size of the Salt Lake Temple, at 58,300-square-feet. It is approximate in size to the Rexburg, Idaho Temple and smaller than the Jordan River or Bountiful temples.

The Draper Temple features some interior woodwork made from African wood and limestone on the floors from France. White granite in the temple is from China.

It also includes some unique artwork, including panoramic Rocky Mountain scenery in two of its ordinance rooms by Utah artist Linda Curley Christensen and Colorado artists Keith Bond. Most historic is a 1922 oil painting that used to hang in the former Draper Tabernacle, depicting the Angel Moroni's visit to church founder Joseph Smith to deliver the Golden Plates.

Although there isn't a public cafeteria in the temple, there is a workers' dining hall, where they can eat the home lunches they bring in. There's also a small laundry to take care of the baptismal clothing.

There's also a recurring design of the sego lilly, Utah's state flower, in art-glass by Utah artist Tom Holdman (who also did the temple's window art-glass.)

Latter-day Saint temples differ from the church's meetinghouses or chapels where members meet for Sunday worship services. A temple is considered a "house of the Lord" where Christ's teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ordinances that unite families for eternity. In the temple, church members learn more about the purpose of life and strengthen their commitment to serve Jesus Christ and their fellow men.

Some 900,000 people have already signed up to tour the temple and the church is expecting a total of 1 million visitors during the open house.

Elder Ballard said he is often asked why Mormons are so secretive, because the general public cannot enter the temples after dedication.

"The work that occurs here is sacred," he said. "You'll feel that (on a tour)."

During the media tour, Elder Ballard also praised modern technology and how computers are preventing duplication in temple work.

The Draper Temple also includes a bounty of natural light coming in through windows. He said architects and church leaders have tried to maximize that. A recent group of VIP visitors to the temple "were overwhelmed by the beauty and the light" inside, he said.

Indeed, as the late morning sun hit the windows of the temple's largest sealing room, it was almost bright enough to need sunglasses.

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