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SOUTH JORDAN -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ready to welcome the public into its 130th temple. South Jordan now has the distinction of being the only city in the world with two Latter-day Saint temples: the Jordan River, dedicated in 1981, and now the Oquirrh Mountain.
The name "Oquirrh" is a Ute Indian word which means "shining mountains." It probably refers to the morning light striking the mountains on the west side of the valley.
President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the need for the Draper and Oquirrh Mountain temples in October of 2005.
Church leaders received the land as a gift a few years ago. Elder William R. Walker, a member of The First Quorum of the Seventy and executive director of the temple department, said, "This particular temple, the land was donated by the Kennecott people, so that was a very nice thing for the Church. They did the surrounding development, and I'm sure the temple is more beneficial and desirable, nevertheless, we're grateful for the kindness of those, who on occasion donate the land for some of our temples."
This is the fourth temple in the Salt Lake Valley, the 13th in the state of Utah and the 130th in the world. It is, at 60,000 square feet, considered a mid-sized temple, and it was built because of the tremendous growth in the south end of the valley in the last 20 years.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "The Church is growing in Utah. We have, of all the English-speaking missions in the world, the Utah missions are always at or the top baptizing missions, and they ought to be."
During our media tour Wednesday, an apostle told us he could not help but think back to the valley's first temple.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "The Salt Lake Temple being dedicated in 1893, when there were only 215,000 people that were members of the Church all across the, from Canada to Mexico. To see this valley, now have a fourth temple and to see the growth and the commitment of the saints, is a cause to rejoice."
Some 83,000 Latter-day Saints live in the southwestern part of the Salt Lake Valley. This is now their new temple.
During the tour, Elder Walker spoke about the new temple's architectural features, such as the pristine granite exterior.
"The granite on this temple is the same as you see on the new church history library," he said. Imported from China, Elder Walker says it's known as Uinta gold.
The interior has chandeliers with pale green and gold Swarovski crystals. The new temple is decorated with limestone tile flooring from Egypt and Morocco as well as plush carpeting, gold leaf inlay, oak millwork and dozens of murals and religious paintings.
Artist Linda Curley Christensen supervised church service missionaries in painting the murals. The circle motif symbolizes eternity.
The art glass by John Quist features stars, circles and flutes.
Elder Walker anticipates that the Oquirrh Mountain Utah temple will be quite busy. Like the Draper temple, it will serve just over two dozen stakes.
"This has all been carved out of the Jordan River temple," Elder Walker said, "which was one of the busiest temples in all the Church. And so we expect this will be a very busy temple, as well."
But more important to Elder Walker than the foot traffic or the decorations is what the temple represents to the Latter-day Saints: the house of the Lord.
"They can come to the temple, and it's like stepping out of the world for a moment or a couple of hours, and receiving renewed spiritual nourishment and renewed spiritual perspective," he explained. He added, "This is a way for people to step aside and renew our feelings of love and devotion to our God."
The temple will open for public tours on June 1 and will run through August 1, except on Sundays, July 4 and 24.
Reservations can be made online or by phone. It is free to attend, but visitors must have reservations to participate in the open house.
The temple will be dedicated on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 21-23, in a total of nine dedicatory sessions.