The open house for the temple will begin January 15, following a five-year renovation after a fire gutted the inside of the Provo Tabernacle, leaving many in tears. What once looked like a hopeless loss has become a temple. “What a cherished piece of history we celebrate…like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a temple on the ground and out of the loving memory of our beloved tabernacle,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. The cultural celebration and dedication will take place March 19-20.
“I’ve never seen a more stunning example of Isaiah’s phrase ‘beauty for ashes’ than the rising of this Provo City Center Temple,” said Elder Larry Y. Wilson, assistant executive director of the LDS Temple Department. Isaiah used this phrase as a symbol of the atonement and the Lord’s astonishing power to take the ashes of our lives and transform us with his unspeakable grace. This new temple will forever be a living symbol of that gift.
This is a close-up on the art glass windows in the steeple of the temple. Once it seemed this steeple and all it meant would be lost to us forever.
The Angel Moroni faces east, heralding the news that the everlasting gospel has been restored. The pigeons on his trump have what you might call “a bird’s eye view.” (They had no intention of moving for hours despite our pleas.)
This Christus statue currently stands in the pavilion to the south of the temple. This is a permanent structure with stairs leading down to the underground parking.
The Provo City Center Temple will become the 150th working temple in the Church. It was completed and turned over to the temple department on December 17, 2015, exactly five years to the day from the day of the fire that gutted the Tabernacle, Dec. 17, 2010.
President Gordon B. Hinckley set a goal to have 100 operating temples by the year 2000 with the Boston Temple becoming the 100th temple. Sister Rosemary Wixom, Primary General President, remembered that when she was young, she got to memorize the names of the 13 temples that were then in operation. What a very long way we have traveled.
Every part of the temple is made to remember those who built it with details that reflect the 19th century, including the center of this fountain.
These lampposts remember a different era. When the apostle Franklin D. Richards met with the Saints in the Provo Tabernacle in 1885, they had temporary seats, no windows and no doors. Elder Holland said, “No other public space in Provo…has been such an integral part of the religious and civic life of Utah County.”
Another salute to the past is the beehives that adorn this north stairway to the temple. Many people will enter the temple from the south underground parking lot. The temple has 53,000 square feet on that underground level alone.
We are a people who remember those who came before us.
In 1867, Elder John Taylor said, “Bless the ground…May it be sanctified unto the Lord our God, as holy ground…and for building a house upon for His worship.” These stalwarts who built the Tabernacle could not have imagined just how significant their ground and building would become.
This entry on the south side of the temple features art glass of Jesus holding his lambs, a 120-year-old piece that was once in a Presbyterian Church in New York. It had some missing gaps when it was first given to the Church by a donor, but Tom Holdman, who did the art glass for the entire temple, flawlessly fixed them.
This baptistry is born on the backs of twelve oxen, each one different. The marble for the baptistry came from India. Elder Wilson said that the gospel answers an age-old question. If Jesus said that all must be baptized to enter the kingdom of heaven, how can that be? Of course, the answer is baptism for the dead.
Every detail of the interior of the temple is designed to honor those who first built this tabernacle. Here in the bride’s room, the stencil around the ceiling copies a piece of stenciling that was found behind some plasterboard in the original tabernacle after the fire.
This is the original stenciling which was copied for the Bride’s room.
The Celestial room is a place of historic serenity with its gothic windows and Victorian furnishings.
Chandeliers like these remain sparkling because once or twice a year, the entire fixture is lowered and each piece of glass is removed and cleaned individually.
The four-inch piece of ornate wood just below this pulpit is the only original furnishing from the tabernacle. It was saved because the original pulpit was movable and could be taken out when the building was being used for concerts. The night the Tabernacle collapsed into flames, the pulpit had been removed and was not in the building.
The art glass windows in the temple also reflect an earlier era.
When we come to the temple, we come to get our bearings on the universe. It is a place unspotted from the world.
Not only are the windows works of art, but art is scattered throughout the temple, including 19 original works.
This is a sealing room with an altar whose carvings emulate the gothic windows. Already 500 weddings are scheduled for the temple.
This grand staircase winds through the temple. Over a thousand people worked on the temple. For the architects, laborers, and artisans who followed the inspiration of living prophets, these ordinary building materials and tools became expressions of their faith.
This post is like the posts that were charred in the fire. Elder Holland said, “With that legacy and those memories safely in our hearts, we can all now pass the spiritual heritage of these acres on to our children and grandchildren.”
The original posts and a new one based on that model are in this historical display.
Most temples have this inscription, Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord, at the entrance, but this temple has it at three entrances. It is a reminder that this is literally God’s house and no profane thing can enter. In ancient Israel every item that entered the temple had to first be made “pure for God.”
This is the art glass version of Holiness to the Lord at the south main level temple entrance.
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Rev. 14:6).
Latter-day Saints have performed ordinances and made covenants on this ground for many years. This legacy continues in the higher ordinances of the temple.
The only place that families can be sealed to live together forever is in the temple of the Lord.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).