President Thomas S. Monson announced Saturday the Provo Tabernacle will be rebuilt and restored as an LDS temple, the second temple in the city.
“After careful study, we have decided to rebuild it with full preservation and restoration of the exterior to become the second temple of the church in the city of Provo,” he said in the morning session of general conference.
The announcement was met with audible gasps from the Conference Center congregation.
“The building of temples continues uninterrupted,” President Monson said. “First I mention that no church-built facility is more important than a temple.”
On Dec. 17, 2010, a fire engulfed the Tabernacle and only the exterior walls survived.
“Since the 2010 fire, church leaders have worked with architects, engineers and historical experts to determine the future of the building,” said church officials in a news release.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are grateful the building will be not only historically preserved, but turned into a temple.
“I am absolutely thrilled and very pleased to hear they will build another temple,” said Rob Whiting, bishop of Provo YSA 83rd ward. “I think this is great news for our young people to have another temple to do baptisms in. The Provo temple is so crowded sometimes they can only do one or two names; this will open it up.”
President Monson said the existing Provo temple is one of the busiest in the Church and a second temple will accommodate the increasing numbers of Church members who attend.
“I would have to believe in the brethren that having another temple will increase temple work. Hopefully we can use it to the maximum,” said Richard White, a member of the Provo Married Student 2nd Stake presidency. “I know our stake is very interested in promoting temple work and many of our members walk to the temple. … Having a temple so close will encourage our members to go more frequently.”
The Tabernacle stood as an important landmark in downtown Provo for more than 140 years, and many Provo residents said they are pleased the Church chose to preserve the building.
Caitlin Mitchell, a junior from Richland, Wash., said the development will bring life to the area.
“There are a lot of cool things in downtown Provo, but not a lot of people utilize it,” Mitchell said. “I think that the temple will bring that area back to life.”
Provo City officials said this choice is going to positively impact the area.
“The Church has shown remarkable sensitivity to our community in their efforts to preserve options,” said Sherrie Hall Everett, Provo Municipal Council member. “While I didn’t expect this option, I’m convinced that we are only beginning to realize the blessing this building will be for each of us, the community, the downtown, and the surrounding area. It really is better than I could have imagined.”
Rebekah Arnesen, a senior from Pleasant Grove, said because of her connection to the Tabernacle as a young girl, this reconstruction means a lot.
“I was really sad to see the Provo Tabernacle burn down and I would be really sad to see nothing happen to that area,” Arnesen said. “I think the reconstruction is really appropriate.”
The church released an artist’s depiction of the completed temple. It will include a large steeple capped with a golden angel, and a large park one block just south of the Tabernacle. The entire block, excluding the post office, was recently purchased by the Church.