Elder William R. Walker, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and executive director of the church's Temple Department, called it an homage to "the beautiful community" that is now home to the faith's 139th temple worldwide and its 14th in Utah. The 36,000-square-foot structure is expected to serve 40,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Walker said the church decided to build the new temple to serve growing demand in northern Utah.
Mormons hold Sunday worship in meetinghouses, but they go to temples to receive instruction about the purpose of life, their relationship to God and to take part in religious rites, such as weddings and vicarious baptisms for the dead.
The new temple, Walker said, is also a fulfillment of a prediction fromthe faith's pioneer past.
"Brigham Young had prophesied that some day there would be a temple in Brigham City," Walker said, "and now we have a temple in Brigham City that's completed."
Consequently, much in the temple is dedicated to Brigham City and its pioneer roots. It was crafted to resemble some of the church's earlier temples. For example, marble floors are inlaid with decorative designs reminiscent of the mid-19th century. A dozen oxen supporting the baptismal font (representing the 12 Tribes of Israel) are cast in bronze, rather than fiberglass, which was used in some of the more recent temples. And a portrait of Brigham Young hangs in the waiting room forwedding guests,a tribute to the city's namesake.
"It looks like some of the old temples, but this will stand forever because of its steel and concrete construction," Walker said of the towering, white building, capped with a glistening, gold-leafed statue of the Angel Moroni 165 feet above the ground.
Newer parts of the temple include four, new original paintings in the baptistry, including one of the middle eastern Jordan River, one of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus, another of a pioneer baptism in Box Elder County and a fourth of two brethren confirming an American Indian after his baptism.
LDS leaders also took pains to include the peach blossoms throughout the temple as a nod to the city's most famous product, for which it holds a festival each year. The blossoms are omnipresent yet subtle. Peach blossoms were hand-carved into the white carpet of the glittering Celestial Room, a place that symbolizes the heavenly peace that may be achieved by living Mormon teachings. They also adorn rugs and the backs of chairs. They're featured in round windows facing the exterior and in round carvings lining the top of the building.
"We just love that they've done that special for Brigham City," said Brigham City Mayor Dennis Fife. Residents Mormons and others are excited for the new temple, he added, and what it could mean for downtown.
He noted that the temple's public tours which begin Saturday and run through Sept. 15 will coincide with Brigham City's annual Peach Days festival.
Months ago, he said, some residents were upset that trees were cut down to make way for the temple. But, ultimately, he noted, the church removed six trees and replaced them with about 160, including, of course, peach trees.
Tour the temple
Public tours of the Brigham City LDS Temple will begin Saturday and run through Sept. 15, excluding Sept. 8 and Sundays. Tour reservations may be made by visiting www.templeopenhouse.lds.org or by calling 1-855-537-2000.
Already, 300,000 tickets have been requested.
The temple will be dedicated Sept. 23. All regular church meetings in Utah that Sunday will be canceled to allow members to view broadcasts of the event. Elder William R. Walker, a member of the faith's First Quorum of the Seventy, said LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson has asked LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer to conduct the dedication as a gesture to Packer, who is from Brigham City. After the dedication, only Mormons with temple recommends will be allowed to enter, and, at least at first, a reservation system will be in place, Walker said.