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Marianne Holman Prescott
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, during the cornerstone ceremony of the Meridian Idaho Temple dedication on Nov. 19.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — A new temple in the Treasure Valley of Southwest Idaho will serve as a spiritual "meridian" for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the area.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the LDS Church’s First Presidency dedicated the Meridian Idaho Temple Sunday morning. The new temple is the fifth in Idaho and the 158th worldwide.

“With this jewel placed right here in Meridian, a wonderful piece of [God’s] creation has been added,” said President Uchtdorf.

The temple stands near the Boise Principal Meridian — a longitudinal line that marks the initial point for which all other measurements are governed.

“Meridians have a lot to do with navigation — they make sure that you are following the right path in life,” said President Uchtdorf during the cornerstone ceremony.

The temple is part of a “celestial navigation” in which a person is able to direct his or her attention to things outside of the earthly sphere, the leader taught.

Members of the LDS faith met on the grounds of the newly completed temple, as well as in meetinghouses in the area, to participate in the dedication.

President Uchtdorf presided over the three sessions and was joined by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other church leaders.

During the first session, President Uchtdorf, Elder Christofferson and other leaders applied mortar to the temple's cornerstone during a ceremony symbolizing the completion of the building. President Uchtdorf also invited a few locals in attendance — including children — to do the same.

The more than 67,000-square-foot building stands on nearly 16 acres of land and is the shortest temple-to-temple distance outside of Utah.

Jason Radford, who serves as the president of the Middleton Idaho Stake, said the new temple will be a blessing to the community, not only for the beauty of the building and grounds, but also because of the impact it will have on the LDS Church members who worship there.

“As we go to the temple, we have a greater understanding of the love of our Savior Jesus Christ. It causes us to look outward and not inward. It causes us to be better members of the community,” he said.

The evening prior to the dedication some 6,000 youth from the 16 stakes of the temple district joined together in song and dance for a youth cultural celebration held in the Taco Bell Arena on the Boise State University campus.

The title and theme for the production — “Be Strong, Steadfast and Immovable” —stemmed from the name and location of the new temple.

“Being a part of the cultural celebration made the dedication more meaningful,” said Adeline Christensen, 14. “It was such a great experience — I am a little sad it’s over.”

The program’s narrative depicted a grandfather sharing with two of his grandchildren special “treasures” — artifacts he had gathered while living in the region — kept stowed away in a trunk for many years.

Artifacts in the trunk such as a map, wagon wheel, an old railroad spike, water canteen, lasso, cable and brick, sparked conversations highlighting the Oregon Trail, the Oregon Short Line Railroad, the impact of water irrigation, the ranchers of Southwest Idaho and the construction of the first LDS church building in the area.

The temple was announced in the April 2011 general conference by President Thomas S. Monson. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Aug. 23, 2014. There are about 426,000 Church members in Idaho and close to 28,000 within Meridian.

The new temple’s prairie style design features horizontal lines and an octagonal copula cap. The windows include a seed element at the base with stems leading up the wall to a lily-like flower blossoming at the top. The interior of the temple includes 10 original paintings in addition to commissioned murals depicting the local landscape.