Elder Christofferson calls Orem ‘vital part’ of Lord’s vineyard at Orem Temple dedication

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Elder D. Todd Christofferson presided at the dedication of the Orem Utah Temple on Sunday, Jan. 21, making it the 28th temple in Utah and the 188th operating temple in the world.

Elder Christofferson greets people outside of the Orem Utah Temple. Elder Christofferson presided at the dedication of both the Orem Utah Temple and the Peru Los Olivos temples on consecutive Sundays. (Courtesy of Intellectual Reserve, Inc)

In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Christofferson prayed for the saints to be faithful, whether they come from a long line of faithful generations or are just starting the “chain of eternal families” for their ancestors and posterity.

His prayer also included protection for the temple from natural disasters and desecration, and for temple-goers to worship “without distraction or disturbance.”

This dedication marked Elder Christofferson’s second consecutive week of dedications, after dedicating the Peru Los Olivos temple on Jan. 14. 

Church and local leaders attend the Orem Utah temple dedication. Elders Christofferson and Kearon of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were among those present. (Courtesy of Intellectual Reserve, Inc)

In attendance with Elder Christofferson at the Orem Utah Temple dedication were Elder Patrick Kearon of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, BYU President C. Shane Reese and his wife Wendy Reese, Orem Mayor David Young and former Orem Mayor Richard Brunst.

“I think it’s a great blessing, just to have your own temple,” Mayor Young said. “We’ve been working with the Church on this for a couple years now, and I’m really proud of the work that our staff and the city council has done to help make this a reality.” 

He noted the temple was likely the “single largest construction project ever undertaken in the city.”

The Orem Utah Temple under construction on Dec. 9, 2022. Construction of the temple was a three year process. (Courtesy of Brent R. via churchofjesuschristtemples.org)

The dedication of this new temple marked the completion of a nine year preparation process, according to former Mayor Brunst, who originally wrote a letter to the First Presidency for the potential of an Orem temple in 2015.

“When I was mayor, I was coming off the freeway … and had a very strong impression that Orem needed to have a temple,” Brunst said. 

He explained how his wife thought he was “crazy,” as Utah County already had the Mount Timpanogos, Provo and Provo City Center Temples in place. “Be that as it may,” Brunst said to her, “I think I need to follow the impression I received.”

Four years later, in 2019, President Russell M. Nelson announced the temple in General Conference. Former Mayor Brunst met with members of the Church’s Special Projects Department to preview the land, and ground broke for the temple on Sept. 5, 2020.

A portrait of Glen Mella, former Area Seventy for the Utah Area. Mella served with wife Elizabeth as Orem Utah Temple open house coordinators. (Courtesy of Glen Mella)

In April 2023, Glen and Elizabeth Mella were called as coordinators for the Orem Utah Temple open house and dedication. Glen Mella had just been released from serving as an Area Seventy in the Utah Area from 2018-2023, presiding over approximately 20 stakes in Orem and surrounding areas.

Mella said his relationships with these stake presidents were key to his success as the temple open house coordinator.

“It sounded at first like a little bit of a daunting task … but we were honored and grateful and thrilled to be asked,” Mella said.

The temple open house began with a media day on Oct. 23, 2023 and an invited guests week that hosted public figures like former Governor Gary Herbert, Orem Mayor David Young and others.

The open house was open to the public from Oct. 27 to Dec. 16, 2023. In the seven and a half weeks, it averaged a little more than 7,500 visitors a day for a total of 332,500 visitors, Mella said.

Many newly-arrived refugees and members of the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faiths were among those that “loved coming in,” he said. Mella attended the Washington, D.C. Temple open house as a 16-year-old before being baptized and said he knows firsthand the blessings of going through a temple, dedicated or not.

“People can feel God’s presence, they can feel His love, they can feel that He has a plan for each of us, and so that’s what’s really wonderful about an open house,” Mella said.

The dedication on Jan. 21 was equally anticipated, Mella said, with about 1,200 guests in the temple for the 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. dedication sessions, and a broadcast to about 20 stakes in the new Orem temple district.

The Orem Utah Temple as seen on the day of its dedication, Jan. 21, 2024. (Courtesy of Intellectual Reserve, Inc)

Appointments at the temple are available for all ordinances starting Jan. 23, according to the Church’s website.

These appointments will help take a large portion of patrons from the Provo temple, which closes for reconstruction on Feb. 24, Mella said.

“The timing of the Orem temple is magnificent and I would say there’s every anticipation that it will be very busy and that it will be used a lot,” he said.

Of the open house and dedication he said, in Oliver Cowdery’s words, “these are days never to be forgotten.”

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