Reader Voices: Memories of the Draper Utah Temple dedication

Published: Monday, May 30 2011 7:00 a.m. MDT

Latter-day Saints believe that obedience to the ancient Ten Commandments is essential for salvation. The temple reminds us this is so.

Today, in the southeast corner of Salt Lake Valley stands a beacon — the Draper Utah Temple. My wife and I see it shining brightly at night from our home a five-minute's drive away. How does that temple on Draper's Corner Canyon hill remind us that the Ten Commandments are commandments and not merely 10 suggestions?

I will give you my view. In each of the holy temples of the Lord, we make sacred promises to obey God's commandments. Temples are holy training places. They teach us over and over that it is not a mere suggestion that we keep ourselves chaste and virtuous; God commands it as an imperative for our salvation. We can't get a temple recommend to go to the temple unless we covenant by sacred promise to keep the Sabbath holy. We must make covenant to honor our fathers and mothers. We fulfill that sacred promise by doing the temple work for the ancestors of our fathers and mothers in the holy temple of the Lord. 

My wife and I watched the Draper Temple gradually rise from the ground. First came the groundbreaking ceremony, then the footings, the foundation, the skeleton framework, the beautiful granite from China laid as a covering and the placing of the golden statue of Moroni to cap the temple spire.

Then, after the inside of the temple and the grounds were finished, came the days of the open house that lasted 10 weeks from Jan. 5, to March 14, 2009. It was reported that 684,721 people participated.

The public open house was preceded by a private showing to the media and contractors whose work contributed to the temple's beauty. My daughter Charlotte, one of the artists who painted the mural of mountains and forest for one of the endowment rooms, was invited to attend and bring family members with her. On the Saturday before the public showing, Jan. 3, 2009, with other members of Charlotte's family, my wife and I saw the finished temple for the first time. Following the open house was the cornerstone ceremony and three days of dedication in 12 sessions starting the morning of March 20. On Tuesday, March 24, the dedicated temple officially opened, and a week later, on April 1, 2009, we were seated in one of the two endowment rooms doing an endowment for the dead. This was in that very room with the mural of mountains and forest.

Friday, March 20, Grandma and I and grandson Kenneth sat in the newly finished Draper Utah Temple in one of the extraordinary sealing rooms, and there we participated in the second dedicatory session of the temple. From the ceiling hung a large, sparkling crystal chandelier. With sunlight streaming through the spacious windows, we joined in the dedication of the temple. We waved our white handkerchiefs and gave the traditional Hosanna Shout.

The week previous we spent many hours in that magnificent building, including the four hours we served as ushers during the open house. I expended four more hours as an usher in two more dedicatory sessions the next day, Saturday, March 21. My wife and I spent many hours daily the week that began March 23 inside the magnificent edifice, beginning a new calling. We were coordinators over the laundry workers, some 400 of them.

Already, we were sweetly influenced by the spirit that dwells in that dedicated holy temple, when on Saturday, March 21, during the first two dedicatory sessions, I stood as an usher inside the entrance to the temple.

The Spirit was marvelous. I sat uninterrupted except for when a live dedicatory service was broadcast to all rooms of the temple and listened to the speeches and the dedicatory prayer. Standing alone, I took out my white hankie and waved it as all others waved their own white handkerchiefs and gave the traditional Hosanna Shout at the appropriate moment. The choir sang Evan Stephens's "Hosanna Anthem," a different choir singing at each session.

Then two thousand Saints inside the temple stood and sang live, while thousands watching the proceedings broadcast to stake centers throughout the valley stood and joined in.

Sometime in the silent waiting period before the two dedicatory sessions began, or during the singing and handkerchief waving, a sweet feeling came to me. That Spirit seemed to deliver a special message to me. I am not so accustomed to receiving revelation that I can readily say this was a personal revelation, but I like to think it was.

The Lord knows me. He knows that from my baptism on, surely shortly thereafter, my heart and mind were always dedicated to the Lord.

There have been little indicators: While sitting in the Granite stake house, that huge barn-like structure that used to stand at the corner of state street and 33rd South, I revered the general authorities who, at that time, spoke in every conference of every stake in the LDS Church. My heart and entire being warmed when Elder Melvin J. Ballard, grandfather to our present apostle, Elder M. Russell Ballard, spoke. By age 13 the, the gospel was everything to me — and has remained so all my life.

I have always loved the things of the Lord. That's why in the midst of vulgarity and filth, I remained pure as I lived with military persons during World War II.  And that is why I was determined to serve a mission at a time when missionary service was discretionary. My wife and I each have served four missions, three of them together as couple missionaries.

Somehow I was caused to look back at my life, there in the silence of the sacred temple. I realized I have always enjoyed good music, sacred and classical music. I have never been caught up in those worldly noises that some call music. Moreover, I have always tried to be strictly honest and couldn't even pluck a green apple off a neighbor's tree, as boys in those days liked to do. At Granite High School when the basketball team won its games, the student body traditionally went downtown en mass and, joining hands, snaked in and out of stores lifting a candy bar here and another small item there, with the excuse of celebrating, I would have no part of it. I stayed at home at the strong protest of my friends.

I have ever been "on the Lord's side." At that time, there inside the new holy edifice, I had no thoughts of protesting that I, like everybody else, was not perfect. Deep down I knew that, and I knew the Lord knew that. Imperfection was not the topic of the moment. Right living, right thinking and faith were.

In short and simple language, the best summary I can give of those sweet moments of contemplation in the house of the Lord is that the Lord was telling me that he is my friend. I can go to him as a friend! I can't use the phrase that the message I was getting from on high was that my calling and election was sure, although I would have liked to say so ever so dearly. It is certainly a glorious message.

I did come away with extraordinary strength and extraordinary support from on high. I felt my duty is to comport myself with confidence knowing that the Lord is there, always to sustain me for the rest of my earthly life. And that is more than enough!

I say with the prophet Joseph as he wrote in a poem he sent to W. W. Phelps, which I have slightly modified:

I will go, I will go, to the homes of the Saints,

Where virtue's the value, and life the reward.

But before I return to my former estate

I must fulfil the mission I had from the Lord.

Whose ways are a wonder; whose wisdom is great;

The extent of whose doings no one can relate.


Rulon Burton lives in Draper, Utah.

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