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PAYSON — More than five years after the announcement and almost four years since the groundbreaking ceremony, Utah’s 15th temple — the Payson Utah Temple — is officially ready for patron use after three dedicatory sessions held June 7.

For Lynette Neff and other descendants of the original settlers of Payson, Utah, the dedication of the temple feels very personal. Neff’s great-grandfather planted the apple orchards blanketing the benches of the mountains cradling the mostly agricultural community.

“Our whole family grew up picking and pruning and spraying and sorting and packing apples our whole lives. The apples were such a legacy for us,” she said.

Which is why she was excited to see the apple blossom motif woven throughout the new temple’s design: “It became my temple,” she said.

LDS Church members in the temple district met in the temple, as well as in stake centers throughout the district, to watch via broadcast as church leaders dedicated the building.

President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presided at the event. During the traditional cornerstone ceremony at the beginning of the first session, President Eyring waved to a choir and church members — including families — gathered outside the temple.

Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and the executive director of the church’s temple department welcomed guests to the event and shared a few remarks about the symbolism of setting a cornerstone. Drawing from ancient times, the LDS leader taught about the “foundation stone” of the temple — the cornerstone — in which the rest of the building was built around.

“In ancient days the cornerstone was the foundation stone upon which the building was built,” he said. “Now it’s merely symbolic.”

Elder Richards invited President Eyring, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, the new temple presidency and their wives, and his own wife, Sister Marsha Richards, to add mortar to the cornerstone.

“The mortar … is symbolic of the finalization of the building of the temple,” Elder Richards said.

After the church leaders returned to the temple to finish the dedicatory service, children and youths were invited to add mortar to the cornerstone.

“I liked it because I am helping build part of the temple and it is the House of the Lord,” said Aubry Grant, 9, from Payson.

The new temple will serve approximately 93,000 members from 27 stakes in the area from Spanish Fork to Nephi. The large, 96,630-square-foot temple sits on a 10.63-acre site, and is one of the larger temples in the church. Prior to the dedication, thousands of people toured the temple during an open house, allowing people of all faiths and ages to enter.

President Eyring offered the dedicatory prayer for the first two sessions, and Elder Neil L. Andersen offered the prayer for the final session. Other general authorities and auxiliary leaders participating included: Elder Russell M. Nelson, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Cook, all of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, Elder Ulisses Soares, of the Presidency of the Seventy; Bishop Gerald Causse of the Presiding Bishopric; Carol F. McConkie of the Young Women general presidency and Cheryl A. Esplin of the Primary general presidency.

Speakers also included the new temple presidency and their wives: President W. Blake Sonne and Sister Elizabeth K. Sonne; President Richard B Roach and Sister Kristee M. Roach; and President Brent R. Laker and Sister Janelle R. Laker.

mholman@desnews.com @marianne_holman