Thousands flock to Payson temple open house
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.