PROVO — As the light of the morning sun fell onto the Provo City Center Temple, Latter-day Saints rejoiced with the dedication of the historic edifice as a new temple.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided over all three sessions of the dedication service, which was shared on a closed video link to LDS chapels throughout the state of Utah.
"Thank you to the many who have gathered here on University Avenue to witness this symbolic completion of the Provo City Center Temple,” said Elder Oaks.
The mortar applied to the cornerstone was the end of a long and complicated process to preserve the empty brick shell of the Provo Tabernacle and build a modern temple within, designed to reflect the pioneer heritage of the original structure.
“It is amazing, it is beautiful, it truly is a phoenix rising out of the ashes,” said Christy Bonham.
After months of assessing the structure’s loss with hopes of salvaging the tabernacle’s shell, President Thomas S. Monson announced in the October 2011 general conference that the Provo City Center Temple would be built.
The process to build the temple began with months of research, engineering studies and design. It took three and a half years of construction before the temple was completed.
“Everyone in the [Provo] community and throughout the church felt the tragedy of the fire … and the loss of this tabernacle with its history and everyone's personal experience that had ever participated here,” said Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy. “There was always hope that it could be restored as a tabernacle at least. And I don't think anyone had an anticipation that President Monson would receive a feeling that it should be converted into a temple. When he announced that a year later in October conference, everyone was absolutely delighted.”
“I think the transformation of this building into a temple is really appropriate,” said Rachel Davies. “I am so grateful that they were able to move it into this new use, and the work inside is so remarkable.”
“I will always remember the strong spirit that I felt right after the prayer when we were singing ‘The Spirit of God’ and knowing it is a temple dedicated to the Lord,” said another attendee.
A seven-week public open house, which began Jan. 15, 2016, provided an opportunity for more than 800,000 people to tour the temple before dedication.
The Provo City Center Temple becomes the second temple in Provo and the 150th LDS temple in the world.
The temple will serve Latter-day Saints living within the Provo and the Springville areas.
Sunday’s dedication was even more heartfelt for those who grew up in Provo and had a close connection to the tabernacle. One man said he drove by the tabernacle the morning the fire broke out and pulled over to cry because he loves the building.
“It was an amazing experience to be in there and to know now it is a temple of the Lord,” said an attendee.