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Matrons, pioneers and special memories: Members share experiences, admire renovated Ogden Utah Temple

Published: Thursday, Sept. 4 2014 11:33 p.m. MDT

A. Reed Halversen and his wife Luana were called as the first temple president and matron of the Ogden Utah Temple.

Provided by the Halversen family

Luana Halversen still remembers how she felt when members of the First Presidency of the LDS Church called her and her late husband, A. Reed Halversen, to be the first matron and president of the Ogden Utah Temple in 1971.

“President Harold B. Lee asked if I was worried. I said, ‘I’m scared to death,’” Halversen said in a recent interview with the Deseret News. “‘But I’ll go in that temple and do my best, give it all I got.’ His answer was to ‘go in and be yourself.’ So we went in and we worked.”

The Halversens served in that capacity until 1976. Looking back four decades later, it was a special assignment during a lifetime of service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In late August, Halversen toured the recently renovated Ogden Utah Temple with members of her family.

“It will be a beautiful symbol of the Lord for all who live in the Ogden area,” Halversen said. “Those who come to visit the temple and serve there will feel a tremendous spirit.”

Halversen is one of many individuals who honor the memory of the Ogden Temple while admiring the beauty and splendor of the newly renovated temple set to be rededicated on Sept. 21.

The Ogden Temple has a rich heritage and set a new standard for accelerated temple work. Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy, and recently appointed executive director of the temple department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, feels a special connection to Ogden and the temple through one of his ancestors.

A couple from Brigham City remember the day that temple work was performed for several famous Mormon pioneers. For another couple, the Ogden Temple has been a central part of their lives for many years.

Prior to the rededication, here is a look back at these memories.

Did you know?

Here are some interesting facts about the Ogden area, the LDS Church and the temple.

After President David O. McKay announced in the 1960s that new temples would be built in Ogden and Provo, a site selection committee was formed to find an appropriate location. It considered various elevated spots, such as where McKay-Dee Hospital now stands or near Weber State University, before selecting the downtown location, according to “The First 100 Temples,” by Chad S. Hawkins.

LDS Church architect Emil B. Fetzer was asked to create a design that would maximize efficiency and accommodate a large number of patrons. Additionally, the church found that using the same design for the Provo Utah Temple would allow for faster construction time and at a fraction of the cost, Hawkins wrote.

Three years after the groundbreaking, President Joseph Fielding Smith dedicated the original Ogden Temple in January 1972. It became the 14th temple in the world.

When rededicated later this month, the Ogden Utah Temple will be one of 14 operating temples in Utah and 143 worldwide. It will serve more than 200,000 Latter-day Saints in 76 stakes, 600 wards and 44 branches.

Accelerating the work

The opening of the Ogden Temple marked a new era of temple work, Halversen said.

In 1972, the Ogden and Provo temples were designed to hasten the work. These two temples were among the first to provide instruction through prerecorded media. Instead of patrons progressing from room to room in live sessions, the Ogden Temple allowed patrons to remain in one of six rooms with a new session starting every 20 minutes. Each room held just under 100 people and always seemed packed. Several thousand people came to the temple each day, Halversen said.

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