Meridian, Cedar City temple open houses create religious conversation

0
1525

Marit Welker from Meridian, Idaho, has gone through the open house in Meridian three times: once with her husband, once with three of their nonmember friends, and another time with five other nonmember friends.

On Oct. 21 and 27, the Meridian, Idaho, and Cedar City, Utah, LDS temples opened their doors for the open-house period. Since the open houses have begun, local community members have gathered to volunteer at the open houses and bring their friends to see the temples.

Welker said members of the church in the area are promoting the temple open house on Facebook to encourage people to go see it.

BYU alumna Jessica Jensen went to the Cedar City Temple open house on Oct. 28. Jensen said temple open houses create missionary opportunities.

“It’s a great missionary tool where people that are less active, inactive or don’t really know much about the church can come through and see what’s inside the temples,” Jensen said.

Amy Mahler, a BYU alumna from Fruitland, Idaho, said she and her family have seen blessings come from the Meridian Temple open house. One such blessing is people’s curiosity about the temple which leads to gospel discussions. She said people have asked, “Lots of kids left school early today to go to your temple, what’s up with that?”

Having a temple in the city will be a great blessing for the community, according to Ron Cardon, chair of the public affairs subcommittee for the Cedar City Temple open house.

Before these new temples were built, members of the church from Meridian attended the Boise Temple in the valley. Mahler lives 60 minutes away from the Boise Temple and 45 minutes away from the Meridian Temple.

Marit Welker
Dan and Marit Welker (left) have been through the Meridian, Idaho temple open house three times. Two of the three times have been with friends of theirs who aren’t members of the LDS church. (Marit Welker)

Similarly, members from Cedar City have had to travel 45 minutes to the St. George Temple. Now, having a temple in Cedar City will be a “big deal” for not only the Cedar City community, but for surrounding areas as well, according to Cardon.

Members of the church from 48 stakes in Southern Utah, Eastern Nevada, and Northern Arizona attend the St. George Temple.

Cardon said the Cedar City Temple will serve members from Garfield County, Beaver County, Lincoln County, White Pine County, as well as college students attending Southern Utah University.

Before the dedication of each temple, there will be a cultural celebration put on by the youth in the area. Welker said the cultural event for the Meridian Temple has become a talking point for the youth involved in the event.

Jensen mentioned youth have been volunteering at the Cedar City temple open house by putting on the protective shoe-coverings for those who go through the open houses.

“It’s a fun thing for them to be a part of the open house and dedication,” Jensen said.

Welker lives about a 25-minute drive to the LDS temple in Boise and a 12-minute drive to the Meridian Temple.

“There’s this awe that the church is growing so much that the temples are growing closer together and serving more people. The fact that we need two here in the (Boise) valley just blows my mind,” Welker said.

Mahler said she and her family have had many spiritual experiences in the Boise Temple and “look forward to many more in the Meridian Temple.”

Both the Meridian and the Cedar City temples are set on hills and overlook most of their respective cities.

The Cedar City Temple’s location is a constant reminder to look to the Lord, according to Lindsay Bush, a BYU alumna from California who went to the Cedar City open house on Oct. 28.

“I love that the temple is on a hill,” Bush said. “It stands out. It’s such a contrast from everything else.”

Growing up, Bush said her mom and dad taught her to prioritize temple attendance. While on vacation, they would attend the temple even if it wasn’t nearby.

“You go out of your way to go to the house of the Lord,” Bush said.

While going through the Cedar City Temple, Bush said she noticed many of the paintings of Christ showed him with his hands open, creating a “welcoming presence.”

Bush said a piece of stained glass was donated to the Cedar City Temple from a Presbyterian church. The same Presbyterian church also donated a piece of stained glass to the Provo City Center Temple, and many of the materials used in the Cedar City temple came from different countries, according to Bush. She said this showed her how much thought went into making the building special.

“(The Cedar City Temple) has a pioneer feel to it inside and out,” Cardon said. “It’s nice to have something that kind of beckons to that time period in Cedar City.”

Cardon’s specific role with public affairs for the open house has involved working with media day on Oct. 20.

“It’s a day when media from the area and outside the area are invited to come in,” Cardon said. “There was a press conference. Then Elder Wilson, who is the executive director of the temple department, spoke to them and then they toured the temple.”

Lindsay Bush
From left: Adam Ellsworth, Lindsay Bush, Cara Haynie, Jessica Jensen, Bree Haynie, Erin Shinoda and Jason Blickenstaff. Jensen and Bush both went through the Cedar City temple open house on Oct. 28. (Lindsay Bush)

Cardon said an individual is called by the First Presidency of the LDS Church to help coordinate temple events including the open house, the cultural celebration, and the dedication of the temple.

The temple department calls people to various subcommittees which then make up the overall temple committee, according to Cardon.

“Each (subcommittee) oversees different logistics,” Cardon said. “At least that’s how it’s been for the Cedar City Temple open house.”

Cardon’s responsibility also includes coordinating tours with special guests in the community.

“The whole goal of those special guest tours is to build relationships and to build friendships and some understanding among these opinion leaders,” Cardon said.

The Cedar City Temple has brought people together. Even people in the community who aren’t members of the LDS church are excited for the temple to be built, according to Cardon.

“People of other faiths have come together. They see it as a wonderful addition to a community,” Cardon said. “For members of the church, it’s a dream come true. I think any community hopes for something like that in their community; an opportunity to serve. I think that service is a big deal right there.”

The Meridian Temple open house continues until Nov. 11, and the temple will be dedicated on Nov. 19. The Cedar City Temple open house continues until Nov. 18, and the temple will be dedicated on Dec. 10.

For more information regarding the open houses and dedications visit templeopenhouse.lds.org.