Half a Million People Attended Ogden Utah Temple Open House
Contributed By Julie Dockstader Helps, Church News correspondent
- Reverence and appreciation were expressed as more than a half million people toured the remodeled Ogden Utah Temple during the public open house.
Standing outside the newly remodeled Ogden Utah Temple on Saturday morning, September 6, were several youth from the Welby 5th Ward, West Jordan Utah Welby Stake. Among the young men dressed in slacks, white shirts, and ties was 13-year-old Carter Davis.
The young man had just toured the temple in central Ogden on Utah’s northern Wasatch Front. When asked what part of the temple stood out to him, he responded, “The dome,” meaning the domed ceiling of the celestial room.
“I felt really good inside because it kind of reminded me of what part of my life can be filled with the gospel,” he said, his friends gathered around him on this sunny morning.
Comments like Carter’s reflected the “reverence and appreciation for the house of the Lord” expressed as more than a half million people toured the remodeled temple during the month-long public open house, said Elder Craig G. Fisher, Area Seventy and chairman of the open house and rededication committee.
“We have people who come to the temple and walk slowly through with tears running down their faces,” Elder Fisher said of the open house events, which included construction and neighborhood tours on July 28, VIP tours July 29-31, and the public open house, which lasted from August 1 through September 6, except Sundays.
As to those “not of our faith,” Elder Fisher added, they came “to realize how beautiful it is in the temple and how special it is, and they came to understand the purpose of why we have temples.”
Elder Fisher reflected on the 500,000 to 600,000 visitors to the public open house and the some 27,000 member volunteers who drove from as far away as Riverton, Wyo., to contribute a day of service as ushers, parking attendants, medical assistants, and in various other capacities.
“All of us who served embraced the temple more than we ever could have had we not had this experience,” he said. “Just the entire experience has been life-changing for us, my wife [Julia] and me. We’ve loved it.”
Similar comments were expressed from many of the volunteers from among the 76 stakes within the temple district, which includes northern Utah and parts of Wyoming. Some 250,000 members will be served by the Ogden Utah Temple, originally the 14th operating temple when it was first dedicated in 1972.
The newly remodeled temple is scheduled to be rededicated Sunday, September 21, with a cultural event the previous day, September 20. With the rededication, the temple will be among the Church’s 143 operating temples.
President Reed Richards, second counselor in the new Ogden Utah Temple presidency, called the open house and rededication activities a “unifying opportunity for the community to come together.”
Referring to invitations from members to neighbors and friends to visit the temple, President Richards called this an “easier approach than saying, ‘Would you like to come for a missionary lesson?’ Once they get to the temple they can’t help but be touched by the beauty and the Spirit that’s there.”
He described one visitor of another faith who was asked by an usher, “How was your tour?”
The man replied, “Your temple is just beautiful, but the real effect is right here in my heart,” he said.
Mike King, chairman of the open house usher committee, and a member of the Pleasant Valley 4th Ward, Ogden Utah Pleasant Valley Stake, related how he walked with a prominent businessman from Nevada through the temple one morning. “As we sat in the sealing room discussing the sealing powers, he began to weep. He had mentioned that he had been married to his wife eight times, just kind of renewing their vows and how deeply he loved her.
“It was very moving,” Brother King said. “He knew for a moment in time that the Spirit whispered that that ordinance [of sealing] was true and sacred and special.”
Brother King, whose wife, Bonnie, also served on the usher committee, spoke of the visitors’ center tent, located south of the temple, where those finishing tours could wander among exhibits of construction materials and ask questions of some of the 70 sister missionaries from the Utah Ogden Mission serving on the grounds during the open house.
Children and others, he related, would often touch the hands on a 10-foot tall replica of the statue, “Christus,” which was located in the visitors’ center tent.
He related how during one tour they escorted about 90 visitors who were blind through the temple and afterward took them to the tent.
“One by one, the blind were led to the ‘Christus,’ and we watched as they placed their hands on the Savior’s face,” Brother King wrote in a personal memoir of the experience. He added that they paused at the hands on the statue, passing “over the nail marks in His wrists and palms.”
Speaking of the service of the sister missionaries on the temple grounds and the effects of the open house on mission work, President Maurice Hiers, with his wife, Sister Charlene Hiers, of the Utah Ogden Mission said the month of August showed a record number of convert baptisms.
“Miracles have been there. People have come and given referrals of people who are ready to hear the gospel message and be baptized,” President Hiers said. “It’s been a thrill to be part of this wonderful open house. What a blessing for Ogden and its communities.”
Brother King probably best described the service of the members involved in the open house. He related a conversation with a sister helping at the entrance of the temple and the gratitude he expressed for her service. He urged her to return home and read Psalm 84:10:
“I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”