Thou­sands flock to Payson tem­ple open house

Serve Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By Christi C. Bab­bitt

Af­ter more than three years of con­struc­tion, the Payson Utah Tem­ple of The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints has opened its doors to the pub­lic, with tours of the build­ing be­gin­ning April 24.

Thou­sands had ob­tained tick­ets on­line be­fore tours be­gan of the 96,630-square­foot struc­ture, and the city pre­pared for the crowds by post­ing signs with park­ing no­tices and direc­tions to lo­cal shop­ping and din­ing along the streets lead­ing to the tem­ple.

A to­tal of 20,000 vol­un­teers were ex­pected to help di­rect traf­fic and park­ing and as­sist vis­i­tors in other ways dur­ing the four weeks of tours. The last tours will be on May 23.

“It’s been a great op­por­tu­nity as we’ve started this jour­ney to re­ceive so many vis­i­tors to the tem­ple,” said Larry Duf­fin, chair­man of the tem­ple’s open house com­mit­tee. Duf­fin spoke to mem­bers of the press, who were given an early tour of the build­ing on April 21.

The press tour was guided by Elder Kent F. Richards, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the church’s Tem­ple Depart­ment and a mem­ber of the Sec­ond Quo­rum of the Seventy. Richards said the over­all theme of the tem­ple’s dé­cor was ap­ple blos­soms, re­flect­ing the or­chards grown in Utah Val­ley.

The hun­dreds of stained glass win­dows found on the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior of the tem­ple fea­ture de­pic­tions of green-leafed branches. As one moves to higher

floors of the tem­ple, ap­ple blos­soms be­gin to ap­pear on the branches. Blos­soms are also fre­quently de­picted in gold ac­cents that have been hand-painted onto ceil­ings through­out the build­ing.

The stun­ningly beautiful dé­cor also fea­tures wood­work made of African ma­hogany and mar­ble floors with in­tri­cate col­ored in­lays. Grand stair­cases lead to up­per floors and many rooms fea­ture walls with stained glass reach­ing from floor to ceil­ing.

Richards said he ex­pected the tem­ple to be staffed with about 3,000 or­di­nance work­ers. The tem­ple in­cludes seven seal­ing rooms where wed­dings are per­formed and a large wait­ing area for fam­ily mem­bers of the cou­ples.

The seal­ing of a cou­ple “en­dures, we be­lieve, not only in this life but through­out all eter­nity,” Richards said. “That’s sort of the whole essence of tem­ples, that it en­dures into the next life.”

Seal­ings are the most im­por­tant thing that hap­pens in the church, he added. “I think it just is a won­der­ful tes­ta­ment to the fact that God loves his chil­dren,” Richards said.

The tem­ple has been tak­ing reser­va­tions for wed­dings for sev­eral months. Dur­ing the first month, about 100 cou­ples signed up to be mar­ried in the Payson tem­ple, he said.

The Payson Utah Tem­ple is the 15th tem­ple built in Utah and the third to open in Utah County. It is the LDS Church’s 146th op­er­at­ing tem­ple. The Provo City Cen­ter Tem­ple will be­come Utah County’s fourth op­er­at­ing tem­ple, with its com­ple­tion an­tic­i­pated in late 2015 or early 2016.

The new Payson tem­ple will serve ap­prox­i­mately 93,000 LDS Church mem­bers in 27 stakes ex­tend­ing from Maple­ton to Delta.

A seal­ing room in the new Payson Utah Tem­ple fea­tures floor-to-ceil­ing stained glass win­dows.

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