SALT LAKE CITY — The Jordan River Utah Temple will be rededicated on Sunday, May 20, with a youth cultural celebration on Saturday, May 19, after being closed for more than two years for a renovation. More than 450,000 people attended the recent open house.
The Deseret News asked readers to share their memories of this temple, whether from the original groundbreaking, dedication and open house or the recent open house or an experience in between.
Some readers participated in both open house events and share their experiences there. Another remembered biking to the groundbreaking to beat traffic. For another, the recent open house was the first temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints her family had been inside.
These experiences have been edited for length and clarity.
Memories flooding back
I remember as a child driving by the beautiful Salt Lake Temple and thinking how lucky my parents were because they got to go inside every month. I couldn’t wait for my own opportunity to enter when I was “grown up.” Then one day in Primary, they told us exciting news. Another temple was going to be built and we all had the opportunity to contribute our own money to help build this temple. I couldn’t wait to start earning money to help. I did odd jobs and saved my nickels and dimes. I remember the Sunday I proudly put in my $5.00 and how thrilled I was to say that I had earned money to help build the house of the Lord.
Several years later, the temple was finished and the open houses began. My parents told us we would have the opportunity of seeing the inside of a temple before it was dedicated — it was like a dream come true, I could hardly wait. As we went through each room, I was amazed at the beauty and peace I felt, even though (or maybe because I was) a Primary child.
When the temple was dedicated, my family had the privilege of attending the dedication and watching it happen in one of the sealing rooms. As I sat in this amazing room with mirrors looking into eternity, I thought my heart would burst with joy. I will never forget how impactful this opportunity to feel the peace of being inside a temple was, and I promised myself that I would strive to live in a way so I could be worthy to attend the temple when I was of age.
It’s funny how life comes full circle. Thirty-seven years later, I was able to attend another Jordan River Temple open house with my family and all the youth of our ward. Those feelings and memories from my childhood came flooding back. I have had the privilege of doing ordinances in temples all around the world, but the Jordan River Temple will always hold a special place in my heart.
— Michelle McNeill of Herriman
Biking past a traffic jam
My husband Dave, our son Russell and I attended the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of the Jordan River Temple in August of 1981. We left an hour early because parking would be quite a distance from the temple. When we got to 90th South and 9th West a couple of miles from the temple, we hit a traffic jam and crept along to 11th West. I jokingly said, "We should have come on our bikes." Dave agreed and said, "Let's go back and get them."
We headed back and were soon on our way again, this time on our bikes, with a half hour to go. We got to the traffic jam again, but this time we were able to keep going. Russell counted 61 cars that we passed on 90th. When we got to 1300 West, which is the street the temple is on, we turned left. The police were preventing cars from going that direction, but they let us go. By now we had only 8 minutes, but the temple looked pretty close. There were a lot of people walking. We got to the temple, parked our bikes along the wrought-iron fence where we could keep an eye on them, and walked onto the temple grounds. We found a place on the newly laid sod just as Elder Marion G. Romney started the program. We couldn't see a thing, but we could hear, except when then-Elder Gordon B. Hinkley was talking. A news helicopter started flying around and drowned out most of his talk.
In October of that year, our family attended the temple open house and later the dedication. I had learned to tat the year before and had tatted two white handkerchiefs that my daughter Leslie and I used for the dedication.
— Rayna Scott of Sandy
First temple trip
My children and I are recent converts and this was our first time setting foot inside a temple. The sense of calm and peace that comes over you is indescribable. We sat in the celestial room and I had tears rolling down my face.
We can't wait to go to another temple so we can be immersed again in the Spirit and those amazing feelings.
— Amanda Godin, of Price
A trip with special needs children
I had been waiting for two years for a temple dedication. We weren’t able to go to the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple open house because the date ended up on the week following my due date.
I had so wanted for my oldest daughter to be able to attend one as I had when I was little.
When I found out about Jordan River having an open house the same time we were driving through Utah to go home, I reserved tickets the minute they opened up. Traveling with my four young children and my parents, we planned our entire trip around the open house. The night before the tour my 7-year-old daughter was so nervous that my dad ended up giving her and two of her siblings a blessing so that they could prepare to see the temple. We explained to my children what they could expect to see and all about the white booties they would have to wear on their feet.
My son has autism and my 4-year-old daughter has a sensory processing disorder. When we arrived at the temple, both refused to wear the white shoe coverings. Crowds of people were filling up behind us and I desperately tried to coax two of my children into these booties.
I fought back tears of embarrassment as how rough things were going, despite what we did to prepare. My mom offered to sit out with my two children and not go inside. I insisted we were all to go in.
Finally my children agreed to let the young women cover their feet and we headed for the door. The minute we walked inside the temple almost immediately my children became different people. Calm, behaved, in awe, they listened to every command and direction. Their entire countenance had changed the minute we crossed the threshold. My 7-year-old created special memories with her grandparents as she enjoyed the beauty of this temple. Perhaps my favorite part was when we entered the celestial room. I pulled my son onto my lap and he stared in awe at the ceiling for the longest time. I felt the spirit so strongly and I felt comforted to be surrounded by my children in this room. It was a beautiful feeling. It was amazing to me that despite not yet being dedicated I could still feel such strong feelings in this holy place.
The minute we left the temple my children were back to their own selves, crying and screaming and throwing tantrums.
To watch my children change instantly inside the temple and to be able to enjoy it was one of the sweetest tender mercies from Heavenly Father that I have ever received. My children are difficult and their special needs makes it even harder but after waiting two years to take my children to something like this it was truly so worth it.
— Starr Frei, of Great Falls, Montana
Memories from both open houses
In 1981, I was 5 years old. The bishop asked for donations to build the temple. In Primary, we spoke about building the temple. I remember looking out my bedroom window and seeing the temple being erected. When the temple was finished, we waited in a long line to go into the temple. I remember holding my mother's hand and seeing the baptismal font.
Now, 37 years later, the Jordan River Temple is being re-dedicated. I was able to volunteer several times as an usher and in the parking lot. I also have children participating in the Ready challenges for the youth cultural celebration. What an amazing experience they have been having. I was also able to take my family twice and talk to them about the sacredness of the temple.
It was extra special because I have a 5-year-old boy. I could watch his face and remember how it was for me. I could feel the Spirit that is with him and my other children. I spoke to them about how important it is for them to work hard to come back to the temple some day. I will cherish those feelings and the friends I made while volunteering. I feel very blessed to have been a part of both dedications.
— Mattie Noall
Sacred and special place
My wife and I were sealed in the Jordan River Temple on June 13, 1998. We also met for the first time in the temple chapel. We are now approaching our 20th anniversary. Needless to say, the Jordan River Temple is a very sacred and special place for our family.
— Tim Harlan
Jordan River Temple was open when another was closed
I met my future husband at a single adults conference. After our attendance at BYU Campus Education Week, he invited my to go to the Salt Lake Temple on Saturday. The Salt Lake Temple closed early on Saturday. We had just missed the last session of our group day. We were both disappointed, because he knew he was going to propose and I thought he would propose that day. The brother at the desk, told us if we hurried we could catch a session at the Jordan River Utah Temple. He did propose at the temple, and I did say yes! That was 35 years ago.
— Claudia Stewart, of Ventura, California
Jittery groom's room?
My husband and I attended the original open house on the day we got engaged, but before we were engaged. As we walked through the bride's room, the older woman guide said "this is the bride's room where the jittery brides wait." My now-husband said, "Where do the jittery grooms go?”
I replied, "Grooms are not supposed to be jittery. They have been to the temple before." It then occurred to me that they might be jittery because they have not been married before. We have told this story to friends and family throughout the years.
Imagine my surprise, when an article in your paper talking about the new open house, states that there is no “jittery groom's room."
— Lyn Fischer, of Provo
A father's example
My father, Hollis Sjoblom Martin served as a veil worker at the Salt Lake and Jordan River temples for approximately 30 years. While he was serving in the Jordan River Temple, I would occasionally accompany him to the temple. While waiting for him to complete his assignment I would wait in the foyer.
One evening as I was waiting, there was a small group of brethren talking together. They were speaking a foreign language. Though I did not understand a word they said, I enjoyed listening. Their ability to converse in the foreign language amazed me. One of the brethren noticed that I was listening. He approached me and said, “You are probably wondering what language we are speaking.” I replied that yes I was and I had enjoyed listening. He then said, “We are speaking Danish. You would be wise to learn to speak Danish for it is the celestial language.” We had a good laugh.
Well, I don’t know that Danish is the celestial language. But my father’s consecrated service in the temples has contributed to my love of the temples, understanding of the importance of temple ordinances and my desire to serve there.
— Randy B. Martin
Chicken pox and a sealing
In 1989, we were scheduled to be sealed as a family in the Jordan River Temple. We had four small children and two of them came down with chicken pox. I called the temple and spoke to the temple president. We devised a plan where we could have the two with chicken pox wait with my sister in the car in the circle drive. When it was time to seal the children, he cleared the lobby and brought the children to the sealing room. We were sealed as a family, the lobby was cleared again so the children could be taken to the car. I thought that we would have to postpone our sealing. I was so upset because I had been waiting eight years. But thanks to a loving inspired man we were able to be sealed for eternity as a family. I am forever grateful to him.
— Carrie Earl of Highland Ranch, Colorado
Life's milestones and the temple
I am so blessed to have the Jordan River Temple in my memories forever. It all started when they announced on Feb. 3, 1978, that a new temple was going to be built in the Salt Lake Valley. Everyone was so excited and couldn't believe it. We were instructed that we had to pay for the temple before construction could be started. We all donated whatever we could and with the small job that I had, I felt so honored to be able to contribute as much as I could.
Then came the groundbreaking in South Jordan on June, 9 1979. I was so determined to be present for this historical event. I took my sister, Carolyn, with me and we were so inspired when President Spence W. Kimball, didn't use a shovel, but a tractor to break the ground — a great example to hasten the work of the Lord! I was thrilled to be there and witness such an occasion. We took pictures of us by the "corner poles of the temple."
During construction, I served as a sister missionary in the England Coventry Mission. I was released in October 1981, just in time for the temple open house. I felt so blessed to be able to be there in time for that occasion and for the dedication a few weeks later.
I loved attending the temple after my mission to do sessions and it was there in the Jordan River Temple celestial room that my husband-to-be, Andy Moore, asked me to marry him in May of 1983. When we were engaged in May 1983, we stayed in the celestial room talking about our lives coming together, not realizing that several hours had passed, and had to be nicely asked to leave as the temple was being closed for the day.
Of course we wanted to be married there as well, and so we did on Aug. 18, 1983.
Having a family and jobs took us away to other states for 20 years. So now, not only are we back in Utah, we again live so close to the Jordan River Temple — we live three minutes from the temple if we make the traffic lights, and five minutes if we miss the lights. We are so blessed.Comment on this story
We are so excited about it opening again. We loved visiting the open house before the re-dedication with some of our family. And it was such an honor to volunteer to help with the ushering at the open house as well.
I love and feel so humble to hold a temple recommend and so privileged to attend temple sessions to do various work. I know that what is done there is holy and of God. I love visiting temples wherever we go, but I especially love the Jordan River Temple and all the experiences I was able to grow up with and participate in and pass these stories and my testimony of them on to our children and grandchildren.
— Ann Terry Moore, of Riverton