Demand for Ogden Temple open house tickets boosts LDS spirits, local businesses
"Since they built the Junction, we come here often to go to the movies, to bowl and to eat lunch or dinner," he said. "We've brought our business back into the center of Ogden."
The Laytons, who were in town Tuesday to eat lunch at Five Guys, a stone's throw from the temple, are LDS, and they've missed their local temple. For the past three years they've traveled to the Bountiful Temple, a 50-minute drive instead of the 20-minute one into Ogden.
"It's obviously beautiful," Brad Layton said. "It makes the area a little more cohesive and centralizes the activity of the city a little more."
The word "beauty" and others like it were common Tuesday during a press conference and media tour of the temple.
Although Cathie Layton said "a few people liked the older, rounder look," most seem to prefer the new design.
"It's stunning," said Godfrey, now a local businessman himself and member of the temple open house committee. "It surpassed my wildest expectation, and the inside is an absolute marvel. This is a tremendous gift to the community.
"This is the most-visited site in downtown by quite a large margin. If you set aside the spiritual benefits, and there are many, it has driven tremendous activity to the core, and that's only going to grow."
One area that will grow will be the number of local weddings.
"I believe we will see exponential, and I really do mean exponential, growth in weddings at the temple," Godfrey said.
"There weren't a lot of weddings at the Ogden Temple before" — as brides and grooms chose other LDS temples — "but that will change. Visitorship will grow. Members will come to worship and will want to come again and again."
A look inside
Utah media got a sneak preview tour Tuesday, led by Elder Richards and Elder Craig G. Fisher, an area authority of the church who was born in Ogden and lives in Morgan.
"This is an important part of the Ogden City culture," Elder Fisher said. "It is a lovely place. It means a lot to the people of Ogden.
Elder Fisher said the Ogden Temple district includes 73 LDS stakes in Utah and western Wyoming that are home to about 250,000 church members.
Desert rose and prairie grass designs are weaved throughout what Elder Richards called "this beautiful structure."
"As with Solomon's temple, the finest materials were brought together from around the world," he added. "The wood is from Africa. The marble was quarried in Egypt and fabricated in China, with laser cutting where necessary."
The renovation included placement of a number of new paintings throughout the temple, though some of the mainstays remain.
"There's a connection to the past as we go forward into the future," Elder Richards said.
One of the most eye-catching features is the ceiling of the temple's celestial room, which to Latter-day Saints represents entering the presence of God. The room is capped by a brilliant white-accented glass dome that ascends out of a circlular hole in the ceiling.
"As beautiful as the temple is in its construction and detail ... these are the most sacred places in the world," Elder Richards said. "We believe we have the privilege of entering the house of the Lord to perform ordinances for the living and our deceased ancestors."
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