President Monson Rededicates Ogden Utah Temple
Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor
President Thomas S. Monson rededicated the renovated Ogden Utah Temple—which has served Latter-day Saints in northern Utah and parts of Wyoming for more than four decades—on Sunday, September 21.
“How grateful I am for the rededication of the beautifully renewed and refurbished Ogden Utah Temple,” he said. “As its doors open once again for the accomplishment of the purposes for which it was originally constructed and dedicated, lives will be blessed. It stands as a beacon of righteousness to all who will follow its light—the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In the temple and in meetinghouses across Utah and Wyoming, hundreds of thousands of Church members gathered to watch the rededication of the Church’s 14th temple.
In addition to President Monson—who spoke and offered the dedicatory prayer—several General Authorities, leaders, members of the new temple presidency, the temple matron and assistants to the matron, and general auxiliary presidency members participated in the three rededication sessions. President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the sessions.
The 112,232-square-foot temple sits on 9.96 acres in the heart of downtown Ogden and will serve some 250,000 Latter-day Saints in northern Utah and parts of Wyoming.
Viva May Wilcox, who served almost five years as matron of the Ogden Utah Temple, recalled attending the original dedication of the temple in 1972. Her late husband, Elder Keith Wilcox, who served in the Seventy, oversaw local efforts when the temple was originally dedicated and served as the third president of the temple.
“It couldn’t have been more exciting,” she said of the 1972 dedication.
Looking around the temple grounds filled with those attending the rededication, she added, “It was just like it is now.”
Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Church’s Temple Department said Ogden has always been a strong area for the Church.
“My great-great-grandfather was assigned by Brigham Young to preside over the Church here in Weber County and lived just a couple of blocks from where the temple is now,” Elder Richards told the Church News before the dedication services began. “He would be very delighted to see this beautiful edifice right here in the center of town.”
As early as the 1820s, fur traders were trapping along the rivers that flow through what is now Ogden—the oldest continuously settled community in Utah. In 1847 the Church purchased land in the area and early Latter-day Saints settled the community.
The Transcontinental Railroad soon brought settlers of diverse faiths and cultures to Ogden.
Elder Craig G. Fisher, an Area Seventy and chairman of the Church’s rededication committee, said Ogden—where the Church now has 33 stakes—continues to be a culturally diverse area. “There is a lot of variation,” he said. “It is a lot like the world. The people are really wonderful.”
The Ogden Utah Temple was originally dedicated on January 18, 1972, by President Joseph Fielding Smith. The temple—then the Church’s 14th operating temple worldwide—was the first built in Utah since 1896, the year Utah became a state, according to LDS Church Public Affairs.
Church leaders announced plans to renovate the temple and the nearby tabernacle on February 17, 2010. The temple’s entire exterior was reshaped with new stone and art glass, and the temple entrance was moved from the west side to the east side, where it faces one of the city’s main streets. The renovated temple includes reconfigured rooms and new electrical, heating, and plumbing systems. In addition, the site now includes underground parking, new landscaping, and a major water feature.
Because the temple’s original cornerstone is still in place and its contents remain unopened, Church leaders did not hold a traditional cornerstone ceremony before the rededication, Elder Richards said.
Conrad Gerber, 9, awoke at 5:30 Sunday morning so he could be first in line for the rededication.
Elder Richards said the excitement and enthusiasm of Conrad, as well as the 16,000 youth who participated in a temple cultural celebration Saturday, was a prelude for the sacred events of the rededication.
“This is a marvelous day—one to be remembered by everyone who participates,” he said.
Elder Fisher said at the time of its closure the temple was one of the busiest in the Church. “You have a lot of hardworking, temple-loving people up here,” he said. “They really missed their temple.”
He said the temple will become a center point for the community in Ogden.
Except for the years Willard Maughan attended medical school and served in the U.S. Army, he has lived his entire life in Weber County. Today he resides in the same house where he grew up.
As a child he walked the streets of downtown Ogden, shopping at five-and-dime stores. He always ran into someone he knew.
As years went by, Brother Maughan said, the temple grounds, where LDS stake conferences were held in the tabernacle, became a destination place in Ogden.
Now a doctor, he is getting ready to retire. He held off, however, until the renovated temple was completed and he could spend some of his time doing temple work. “I am excited about this,” he said of the rededication of the renovated temple. “It is something we have been waiting for.”
Elder Fisher said the temple fits beautifully into the downtown Ogden area.
“It has brought the community together—all the Saints and all the members of other faiths.”
An estimated 550,000 people attended the Ogden Utah Temple open house. “There is a lot more tolerance because they have come to know how beautiful and wonderful the temple is now.”
The temple has also brought Church members together, he said. “Everyone in the community is so thrilled with the temple now. It is going to be a very, very busy place.”