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The new Draper temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will open its doors to the public next week. The two-month-long open house will precede its dedication in March. Members of the press were allowed in today for a private tour led by Church leaders.
There's a great deal of excitement from Latter-day Saints in the southeastern part of the valley about the new temple. The Draper temple will be the 129th LDS temple worldwide and the third in the Salt Lake Valley.
From its white granite exterior walls, to ornate decorations inside that include wood from Africa, limestone from France and murals and artwork, the Draper Utah Temple will be seen by a lot of eyes in coming weeks.
The public open house begins Thursday, Jan. 15, and will last an unprecedented nine weeks. The temple will be dedicated Mar. 20.
The temple was announced in 2004. The groundbreaking took place in August of 2006. The medium-sized temple took about two years to build because of growth and redevelopment in that part of the valley.
About 1 million visitors are expected to attend the open house; 970,000 tickets have already been given out to people of many faiths.
Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, "We've said to all the religious leaders and business leaders that not only are we inviting you to come, but bring whoever else you'd like to bring with you. And so, in one instance, we'll have about 30 people here Saturday night from the Catholic Church. I'll be honored to be with Bishop Wester, and we're thrilled that he would accept our invitation. And likewise, [Pastor]France Davis [of the Calvary Baptist Church] was here yesterday, and on and on. Yes, this is an open house, and our effort is to have as many people as possible come through and understand the purpose of the temple."
To usher a million people through, some 32,000 Latter-day Saints are volunteering to help. "Responsibilities have been in many different ways, from transportation, to audio visual, to accommodations, to ushering and hosting and touring," said Rodolfo Franko, president of the Draper South Mountain Stake.
International guests have already toured the temple, and state dignitaries come next. The volunteers say they have a plan to make them feel welcome.
"We anticipate 20,000 guests each day during the general open house, about 250 guests every 10 minutes. So, we hope to be completely prepared for them so that they'll feel like honored guests as they come through," said Sally Wyne, with the Sandy Lone Peak Stake.
Tickets are still available at www.lds.org/reservations or by calling 1-800-537-6181 or 801-240-7932. Tours of the temple will be available on Mondays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays to Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.