BRIGHAM CITY — Proclaiming Tuesday "a great day, a happy day" in northern Utah, Elder William R. Walker of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened the doors of the church's new Brigham City Utah Temple to the media.
"This community was founded during Utah's pioneer era," said Elder Walker, executive director of the LDS Church's temple department. "For all of that time, the residents have hoped and prayed for a temple. So when (LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson) announced three years ago that a temple would be built in Brigham City, there has been a feeling of joyful anticipation ever since."
The media tour was conducted Tuesday morning in anticipation of the beginning of the month-long temple open house on Saturday (please see box for open house facts and information). The LDS Church traditionally conducts public open houses for several weeks prior to the dedication of a new temple to allow all community members who are interested an opportunity to tour the temple and learn about what Mormons do inside their temples.
Once the temple is dedicated, it will be open only to LDS Church members who have been recommended by their local ecclesiastical leaders to perform the highest sacraments of their faith, including proxy baptisms on behalf of deceased ancestors and eternal marriages (or sealings, as they are called within Mormonism).
The open house for the Brigham City Utah Temple will continue through Saturday, Sept. 15.
"We have already had requests for more than 300,000 tickets to the open house, so there is a lot of interest," Elder Walker said. "There will be a pretty constant flow of people through the temple during the open house."
Following the opening house, the temple will be closed while it is prepared for its formal, official dedication during three sessions on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Elder Walker indicated that President Boyd K. Packer, president of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a Brigham City native, will dedicate the temple.
"President Packer went to grade school at Central School, which used to stand right on this very spot," Elder Walker said. "He presided at the groundbreaking for this temple, and President Monson feels it would be appropriate for him to preside at the dedication as well."
Tickets and instructions for attendance at the temple dedication sessions will be available through local LDS congregational leaders.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, a cultural celebration called "Harvest of Faith" will be held to commemorate the heritage of LDS Church members in the Brigham City area. The celebration will be held at the Box Elder High School football stadium at 6:30 p.m.
The history and heritage of the LDS Church in Box Elder County is reflected throughout the temple, which is the church's 14th in Utah and 139th worldwide. Elder Walker said that great care has been taken to give the temple a historic look while maintaining modern functionality and convenience. Doorknobs, fittings and hinges are brass, and light fixtures are trimmed in brass, and the 12 oxen bearing the temple's baptismal font are made of cast bronze. The color palette for the décor and furnishings throughout most of the temple include warm, earthy tones, with an emphasis on sage, cream and rustic brown.
The one exception to that color theme is the temple's Celestial Room, with its towering ceilings and elegant furnishings and decorations in white, gold and crystal.
The agricultural history of Brigham City is seen in the recurring peach blossom theme throughout the temple.
"Brigham City is the home of Peach Days, and is widely known for the wonderful fruit grown here," Elder Walker said. "Our designers wanted to make the peach blossom a repeating design throughout the temple. So you see it on the exterior walls, in the round windows, in the carpet, on the back of chairs and in much of the ornamentation of the temple."
The temple's Celestial Room has an especially striking peach blossom design that has been hand-carved into the carpet beneath the centerpiece chandelier.
The Brigham City Temple is not a large temple, Elder Walker noted. The instruction (or what Latter-day Saints call "endowment") rooms can only accommodate about 60 people at a time for sessions that will rotate once every 70 minutes. And the chapel waiting area can only seat about 70. For this reason, he said, the temple will initially require reservations for members who wish to attend the temple.
"We are expecting that during the first few months especially, there will be a lot of our members who want to come to worship and serve in this new temple," Elder Walker said. "We don't want to get into a situation where we have 300 people waiting to get in, and we can only accommodate 60 in each session every 70 minutes. So initially, we'll have them make reservations to come to the temple."
Elder Walker said there is at least one person who is not a big fan of that plan: President Monson.
"I've spoken to him about it," Elder Walker acknowledged. "He told me he doesn't like it. He doesn't like the idea of members having to make a reservation to go to the temple. He told me, 'Well, if you have to do it to maintain order, fine. But get rid of it as soon as you can.'
"And we'll do that," Elder Walker said. "When we opened the Rexburg Temple, we did the reservations for about five or six weeks, but then we were able to discontinue the reservations."
The Brigham City Utah Temple will be open for all temple patrons on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
OPEN HOUSE FACTS
DATES: Saturday, Aug. 18 through Saturday, Sept. 15 (excluding Sundays and Saturday, Sept. 8)
TIMES: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays
ADMISSION: Free, but reservations are required
RESERVATIONS: Tickets are available at www.templeopenhouse.lds.org or by calling 1-855-537-2000.
AGES: All ages are welcome, but no strollers, please.
LOCATION: 250 South Main Street, Brigham City, Utah
DRESS: Modest dress is required
PARKING: Parking attendants will guide you to an available parking space. Plan to arrive early to allow time for traffic and parking.
TOURS: Tours begin with a 10-minute video providing an overview of temples and why they are important to Latter-day Saints. Following the video, a tour host will escort you through the temple, explaining the purpose of each room and answering questions as time allows. At the conclusion of the tour, guests will be invited to return to the tents for light refreshments and to have any further questions answered.