By Dara Blanchette
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is conducting public tours of the newly completed Rexburg Idaho Temple from Dec 29 through Jan 26.
“Anyone can go,” said Rob Howell, an LDS church spokesman. Tickets are available to both residents of the Rexburg area as well as those coming from out of town, he said.
The residents of Rexburg have welcomed the temple and see it as an encouraging addition to the community.
“I think it [having a temple in Rexburg] is going to be really positive, in my personal experience having a temple in a community increases the spiritually of not only the members but the community itself,” Bishop Denny Fillmore said.
As a bishop of a married student ward at BYU-Idaho, he said he sees the temple as a great addition for the students because right now it takes almost an hour just to drive to the temple and back. It takes several hours just to go to the temple.
Now students will be able to go in two hours and more will have the chance to go to the temple, he said.
Not only will attendance of the temple help students but so will the idea of the temple.
“Our ward is using the Rexburg Temple Dedication as a focus point for members to rededicate themselves to the Lord and purge the things in the way of their spirituality,” Fillmore said.
Students agree the temple will be a blessing in the area.
I think the temple is going to bring spirituality to the community and more reverence, said Andrea Lembreno, a junior at BYU-Idaho studying Social Work.
“It will definitely increase temple attendance because now there is no excuse not to go, it”s right there,” Lembreno said.
Other students had similar thoughts and reactions to having a temple in the community.
“It will be really good for the students, especially ones without cars, because it”s within walking district of campus,” said Emily Michael, a junior studying early childhood special education at BYU-Idaho.
I think the effect is going to be very positive with a lot more temple attendance for students, and it will stir up missionary opportunities because it”s such a beautiful building, she said.
Michael also said she had the opportunity to attend the open house and tell people what to expecttend the open house.
“It [the open house] was really nice; there were tons of volunteers to welcome you and a video explaining the significance of temples to LDS people and explaining the rooms,” she said.
There was also a tour with a guide, and it was very respectful and peaceful. She said the tour ended with cookies and lemonade.
LDS church members in the area who volunteered to help out in different ways are running the open house; doing everything from being ushers to shoveling snow and helping with parking.
“A sign-up sheet was sent around in each ward and stake and everyone was given the opportunity to sign-up then they had a stake meeting to explain what needed to be done,” said Jeanette Barrick, a 26-year-resident of Rexburg.
Other temple districts needed to make callings to ensure there were enough people to help with a new temple open house, she said, but so many people volunteered to help with the Rexburg open house that that wasn”t necessary.
The community in general seems to be excited to have a temple in their midst and looks forward to the blessings and beauty that will result.
“Everyone is excited, it [the temple] is very pretty, it”s going to add blessings to our lives if we use it in the right manner.” Barrick said.
There is definitely more power in the temple than we realize, even seeing its beauty makes a difference, it”s on the tallest hill in the valley and you can see it from anywhere in the valley even if you”re 30 minutes away, she said.
According to a press release from the LDS church, the Rexburg temple is the 125th temple of the Church worldwide and the third temple in Idaho, with others in Idaho Falls and Boise. The temple will serve 47,000 Latter-day Saints in the surrounding area including the BYU-Idaho campus.
After the conclusion of the open house the temple will be formally dedicated on Sunday, Feb. 3 2008.
Tickets to the open house can be requested online at http://www.lds.org/temples/openhouseinfo/0,12357,1921-1-588-0,00.html or by phone at 1-800-537-6181.