SALT LAKE CITY — Additional changes in the Salt Lake Temple's renovation are coming, and the Manti Temple's construction project is slated to begin later this year, according to a letter released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' First Presidency Friday morning.
Top among the changes to the Salt Lake Temple will not be in the exterior building, which has been under renovation since the beginning of 2020, but indoors. The live presentation of an endowment session, a sacred ceremony in which members make covenants with God, will no longer be hosted in the temple. Instead, a video will be played in place of a ceremony done by live actors — a video presentation is the customary practice in a majority of Latter-day Saint temples.
The decision takes some pressure off temple workers, who no longer have to memorize the ceremony. It also allows workers to host more sessions per day and in multiple languages. Instead of holding one session per hour, each session will now be offered every 20-30 minutes in one of the five instruction rooms that can hold up to 150 people.
After construction, 10 more sealing rooms will be added, giving the temple a total of 23. The rooms are used for weddings or for when families are sealed together — a time where church members believe families can be joined together even after death through the ordinance.
The updated temple, which was built in the late 1800s, will no longer have historical murals that had previously been painted on the walls indoors. The murals will be photographed before their removal and some original pieces will be preserved in the church archives. The murals had been repaired over the years due to water damage, and because of the architectural and seismic updates (along with other logistical changes to the building) the murals needed to be removed.
"Many other historic features of the building have also been photographed, documented, replicated, and in some cases, architecturally salvaged," the letter said.
Other changes to the temple include larger facilities, such as additional dressing rooms and a larger waiting area, along with two new baptistries where members perform baptismal ceremonies.
The new adjustments to the temple's renovation were divinely inspired, according to the First Presidency letter.
"As this project has progressed, we have felt the Lord's hand guiding us in modifying several aspects of the renovation," the letter reads.
Later this year, the Manti Temple will close in order to begin a renovation announced as part of a larger effort "to preserve and extend the life of our pioneer-era temples," leaders said in the announcement. The project will take multiple years, but an exact timeline wasn't released Friday.
Many changes made to the Salt Lake Temple will be mirrored in Manti, such as the absence of a live endowment presentation, mural removal and other accessibility changes.
"The historic pioneer-era temples have been a blessing to the Latter-day Saints for more than 140 years, and we know that with the updates and renovations now announced or underway they will continue to serve their sacred purpose for generations to come," the letter stated.