Brigham City Utah Temple: A Very Sacred Event
Contributed By By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News staff writer
On the same site where he once attended grade school, President Boyd K. Packer dedicated on September 23, 2012, a new temple—the ultimate house of learning.
The Brigham City Utah Temple is the Church’s 139th worldwide and the 14th in Utah.
President Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was born in Brigham City, just a few blocks from the temple site, and spent his childhood in the northern-Utah community known for its fruit orchards and pioneer values. He attended Central School, located on the 3.1-acre site where the temple now stands. He married Sister Donna S. Packer—also a Brigham City native—and the first six of the couple’s 10 children were born in the city.
In fact, President Packer’s roots in Brigham City run so deep that when he broke ground for the new temple two years ago, he promised to return for the temple’s dedication.
President Packer, who was asked by Church President Thomas S. Monson to preside at all three dedicatory sessions and write the dedicatory prayer, kept that promise.
“When we look back at the memories here and the places we lived and grew up, it really is home and the center place for our family,” he had said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “It is a very sacred event. Temples are being built all around the world. I am getting a little rickety, but I feel confident in promising you that I will be back for the dedication of the temple here in Brigham City.”
The 36,000-square-foot temple—which can be seen from most of Box Elder County—will serve more than 40,000 Latter-day Saints from 13 stakes in northern Utah and southeastern Idaho.
“I didn’t propose there be a temple in Brigham City,” President Packer told the Church News for an article in its September 2 issue. “The Brethren brought that up. My contribution was not objecting. The same was true of the dedication; I didn’t assign myself to that. I am glad I was assigned to it. I am grateful.”
The temple is a monument to the faith and sacrifice of Brigham City pioneers, who were sent by Brigham Young to settle the city and other communities in what is now Box Elder County. They built a tabernacle, located directly east of the temple grounds, and planted trees. In recognition of the local orchards in the community, round windows on the temple feature art glass peach blossoms and 26 fruit trees are planted on the temple grounds.
Ronald L. Frandsen, president of the Brigham City Utah Box Elder Stake and coordinator of the local temple committee, said the Brigham City Utah Temple district includes almost the same boundaries as the first stake in the community—the Box Elder Stake, created in 1877 by President Brigham Young.
Many families in the temple district trace roots back to members of that original stake, he said. “There are some great people who live here,” he said.
Many local members gathered outside the temple Sunday morning for a cornerstone ceremony, marking the completion of the building prior to its dedication.
During the event, President Packer applied mortar to seal the cornerstone box, which contains items significant to the temple. President Packer then asked Sister Packer; Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Barbara; Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Wendy; Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy, and his wife, Kathy; Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Temple Department, and his wife, Vicki; and Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy and his wife, Terri, to do the same. Members of the Brigham City Utah Temple presidency and their wives also participated in the temple cornerstone and dedicatory services.
“They have done a nice job, President, in filling that in,” Elder Walker told President Packer while examining the cornerstone.
A choir, made up of Church members from 23 wards in eight stakes, performed at the outdoor ceremony to seal the cornerstone.
Brad Archibald of the Garland 2nd Ward, Garland Utah Stake, participated in the cornerstone choir, calling the ceremony “a choice experience.”
“To see President Packer and to be reminded of his lifelong service and to have watched the temple being built and to see it in its completion has been an absolute joy,” he said.
After the Church leaders re-entered the temple, people outside were invited to place mortar on the cornerstone.
Lane Petersen of the Tremonton 2nd Ward, Tremonton Utah South Stake, waited in line for his turn with trowel and mortar. “It is not often you get to be part of something of this magnitude in this valley,” he said. “I wanted to be part of it.”
President Frandsen noted that because of Brigham City’s central location between the Ogden Utah Temple (which is currently being renovated) and the Logan Utah Temple, most people never expected a temple in the city.
Still, he said, interest in the building has been overwhelming—and not just from members of the temple district. During the temple open house August 18 through September 15, some 404,350 people—10 times the number of members of the temple district—visited the site.
He noted that during the dedication prayer for the groundbreaking service, President Packer said the temple would be a beacon to the community. Now that the temple is completed, President Frandsen said he is amazed—but not surprised—that the temple can be seen across the valley.
President Frandsen also loves the temple’s location, right in the heart of Brigham City. The temple, he said, “is placed right in the middle of garden variety Latter-day Saints that are just trying to be a little better each day, that never dreamed they would be in walking distance of the temple each day. People just like you and me.”
Jimmy Petersen of the Elwood 2nd Ward, Tremonton Utah South Stake, grew up one and a half blocks from the temple and, like President Packer, attended Central School on the site.
Speaking of “community unity,” he said the temple is the result of the dedication of Latter-day Saints in Box Elder County. “There are a lot of fine folks here in the valley,” he said.
Becky Pearse Whetten of the Danville 1st Ward, Danville California Stake, grew up in Brigham City and returned to her hometown for the dedication.
While reminiscing about his early life in Brigham City, President Packer mentioned both Sister Whetten’s father and grandfather—doctors who served the Brigham City community.
“This temple is everything to me,” Sister Whetten said, recalling her days attending Central School and the Sundays she spent at stake conference in the tabernacle. Seeing fruit trees on the temple site also brought back memories of her youth.
She said during the temple dedication services she thought about her ancestors, who dreamed a temple would one day grace their community.
“There is something different about this temple,” her husband, John Whetten said.
“It’s the pioneer heritage of this community,” she explained. “You can just feel it.”