Ground broken for Payson Temple

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Thousands huddled under umbrellas, wrapped in blankets on a grey, drizzly October morning. Those without tickets lined the streets to witness a dedicatory ceremony and to hear an Apostle of the Lord.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks and other church leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took up shovels and broke ground, representing the ceremonial beginning of construction for the Payson Utah Temple. Approximately 6,000 people gathered on the field where the temple will be built to witness the historic event.

Born and raised in Utah County, Elder Oaks said he was thrilled with President Thomas S. Monson’s announcement of the Payson Temple in January 2010.

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General authorities, lead by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, break ground at the future site of the Payson Temple on Saturday morning.

“The decision to build a temple in this place and the decision to name it the Payson Temple were [President Monson’s] decisions and I know we all rejoice in these decisions of the Lord’s prophet,” he said.

Elder Oaks said the Payson temple will stand as an influential symbol to the world.

“That symbol will be an especially prominent beacon in this location,” he said. “Standing just adjacent to I-15, the major North-South artery in Utah, the Payson Temple will be a dominant and visible influence on the millions who pass here by day and by night.”

Elder Oaks testified that the Payson Temple will be the house of the Lord.

“Here will be exercised the ordinances of his priesthood,” he said. “This is his work, his plan. This is his church. The ultimate purpose of this temple is the exaltation of the children of God.”

Upon concluding his remarks, Elder Oaks dedicated the temple site, and through the priesthood, made it holy. He blessed the land, location and all those involved in the temple construction. He prayed for the timely and steady progress — for protection from danger, delay and damage.

The formal groundbreaking took place in four stages. First, Elder Oaks and the other General Authorities in attendance — Elders Steven E. Snow, William R. Walker and Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy — took up golden shovels and turned over the earth to symbolize the commencement of temple construction.

Next, 26 stake presidents, representing members from Spanish Fork, Payson, Mapleton, Salem, Santaquin, Nephi, Goshen and Delta, took their turn in the ceremony.

Third, Elder Oaks invited all officials in attendance to participate in the ceremony including county officers, Payson city mayor and Payson officials, state legislators and Congressman Jason Chaffetz.

The final official phase of the groundbreaking represented the Aaronic Priesthood. Elder Oaks said the Melchizedek priesthood had been well represented in the activities thus far, but “a temple concerns the Aaronic as well as the Melchizedek priesthood.” He then invited all 12-year-old deacons in attendance to come forward and take their turn to till the earth.

After the conclusion of the formal groundbreaking, audience members were invited to come forward and participate as well.

Elder William R. Walker, Executive Director of the Temple Department of the Church and a member of the Seventy, said construction on the Payson Utah Temple will begin in the spring and is expected to continue for 2-3 years.

“We expect a dedication within the middle of 2014,” he said.

Elder Walker said the Payson Temple will be one of the largest temples built in recent years — approximately 96,630 square feet.

He said the temple will be magnificent and unique in its design.

“With classical architectural design features, the temple will be elegant and lovely in every way,” he said. “The temple grounds will be a place of beauty and serenity and will feature large fountains located at the east entrance as well as the west baptistry entrance. Beautiful decorative art glass will be used throughout the temple and inspiring and beautiful art and furnishings will adorn the interior of the temple.”

Elder Walker said he was amazed by the number of people who came to witness the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Here we have 39 degree temperature, raining, and we still had 56,000 people come,” he said. “That’s a testimonial of the faith and dedication of the people in this area.”

Elder Walker said the attendance of so many members is indicative of how much this temple means to them.

“There are people here who hoped for a temple in this community all their lives,” he said. “When President Monson announced there would be a temple in Payson, it was almost like you could hear the rejoicing coming from this part of Utah County. Now the temple construction is beginning, and it is a great day.”

President Rodney H. Newman, of the Mount Nebo Stake, said Payson residents have been waiting a long time for a temple.

“I think it was Brigham Young who said there would be a temple in Payson someday,” he said. “And when the temple was announced, all the stakes around here were like kids waiting for Christmas morning — the excitement was great.”

President Newman said since the new temple is in their stake boundary, it will give saints an opportunity to worship closer to home.

“The brothers and sisters and youth in this whole area have really been faithful in their temple attendance,” he said. “About half the workers in the Provo temple are from the south county area and so there is a great love for the temple down here — it’s almost uncontrollable.”

For many Payson residents, the groundbreaking was an exciting beginning of things to come.

“What an amazing thing,” said Payson resident Brad Olson. “We are at the age where we hope we can start working in [the temple] and spend a lot of time there.”

Olson’s wife, Chris, agreed.

“We are thrilled,” she said. “It’s a really neat opportunity to have a temple right in our midst.”

The Payson Utah Temple will sit on a 15 acre lot located at 930 W. 1590 South in Payson.

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