Salvaged and Reborn from Ashes, Provo City Center Temple Is Dedicated

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 20 March 2016

From left, Bishop Dean M. Davies, Elder Larry Y. Wilson, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Elder Kent F. Richards, and Sister Linda S. Reeves stand outside the Provo City Center Temple prior to the second dedicatory session on Sunday, March 20.  Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

PROVO, UTAH

The Provo City Center Temple, the 150th operating temple in the Church and the second in Provo, was dedicated March 20, salvaged from the ashes and scorched walls of the pioneer-era Provo Tabernacle as if to symbolize the spiritual rebirth and renewal that comes from receiving temple blessings and returning frequently.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, whose boyhood roots run deep in Provo and the surrounding Utah Valley, presided over the three dedicatory sessions throughout the day.

Elder Oaks conducted the traditional cornerstone ceremony near the beginning of the first session, while the sun rising over the Wasatch Mountains to the east bathed the red sandstone of the temple’s wall in a brilliant glow under an all-but-cloudless, royal-blue sky.

“Thank you to the many who have gathered here on University Avenue to witness this symbolic completion of the Provo City Center Temple,” Elder Oaks said to about 300 onlookers gathered on the temple grounds on the east side. “That symbolic completion is our placing some mortar around this portion of the temple, which represents in a symbolic way the cornerstone and which will have a box of important artifacts placed within it.”

He quipped, “We’ll now proceed to put the mortar beside a portion of this stone, and later learned professionals will finish the job in an appropriate way.”

With a trowel and spatula Elder Oaks applied a dab of mortar and then invited his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, to do the same. They were followed in turn by Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Jan Robbins; Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department and his wife, Sister Marsha Richards; President Allen Ostergar and Sister Nancy Ostergar, the newly called temple president and matron; and the counselors in the temple presidency with the assistant matrons, their wives.

“The most dangerous part of this ceremony is for those who are wearing white suits,” Elder Oaks joked. “Now that the most dangerous part of the ceremony has been concluded, it’s customary for us to have some representatives of the rising generation—who will be using this temple for the decades and centuries to come—to come forward, and so we have invited a young man and a young woman to come and represent all the rest of you by putting the final touches on the ceremonial addition of the mortar.”

The two were Dylan Edwards, 12, and his sister, Malaia, 7, brought forward by Elder Richards.

Members watch prior to the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, pose for photos with Dylan and Malaia Edwards at the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016.

Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department escorts Dylan and Malaia Edwards to the cornerstone to assist in the ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Their mother, Carlie, said the youngsters were chosen on the spur of the moment to receive the opportunity.

Their father, Dave, said, “We got up early this morning just thinking that maybe there was a chance, so we got here thinking where would be the best spot to be in and thought this was it. We felt really blessed to have a General Authority pick our son and daughter out to be part of the temple cornerstone ceremony.”

Dylan said he felt sad when he heard the news of the fire that destroyed the tabernacle on December 17, 2010. Then, when President Thomas S. Monson announced in general conference on October 1, 2011, that the structure would be restored and converted into a temple, Dylan didn’t think at first that he had heard the prophet correctly.

He said he has been anticipating the completion of the temple for a long time and that he took part in the youth cultural celebration held the night before the dedication.

Dylan looks forward, he said, to doing baptisms for the dead in the newly completed temple and maybe one day being married therein.

A choir consisting of Church members from throughout the temple district was situated near the cornerstone and performed several prelude selections prior to the ceremony, including “On This Day of Joy and Gladness.” One bystander commented how appropriate the hymn seemed for the setting.

The choir director, Rebecca McLaughlin of the Slate Canyon 10th Ward, Provo Utah Stake, said several choirs were organized to perform not just for the cornerstone ceremony but for individual dedicatory sessions, all with the coordination of Kathy Henison.

Sister McLaughlin said that in nine weeks of practice, “everything came together, and we built a little bit of a Zion community within the choir. It was really a beautiful experience.”

One of many small miracles, she said, was her arrangement in which two hymns, “Holy Temples on Mount Zion” (Hymns, no. 289) and “The Spirit of God” (Hymns, no. 2) were sung simultaneously, solely with violin accompaniment.

Months ago, she was asked to lead a stake Relief Society chorus in singing “Holy Temples on Mount Zion.” She and her husband, David, were wondering what hymn might work well with it as a medley.

“We were thinking about what hymns are temple related, and so, of course, ‘The Spirit of God’ came to mind. We started singing it, and I said, ‘Why don’t you sing with me and let’s just see if the two melodies fit together.’”

To their delight, they found the songs did indeed work together, with the exception of a couple of verses, which had to be altered for harmonic consistency.

She enlisted the help of her close friend, violinist Cynthia Richards, concert mistress with the Utah Valley Symphony.

The arrangement was later adapted for a ward choir performance and eventually was placed among the selections for the cornerstone ceremony choir.

“As I was putting the songs together, I could see in my mind’s eye the pioneers, because they were so connected with the Provo Tabernacle,” Sister McLaughlin said. “I thought of how Brigham Young had put a violin in every company as the pioneers crossed the plains. I could hear them in my mind’s ear gathering near the campfire at the end of each day and playing the violin and singing. I thought how much they would rejoice with this temple here today, and our remembering them and honoring them by the Church turning the tabernacle into a temple.”

Provo City Center Temple as seen in the early morning hours on its dedication day, Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

One of the bass singers in the choir was Bill Hendrickson of the Bonneville 10th Ward, Provo Utah Bonneville Stake. He said that about two months ago, just after he and his wife, Debbie, were set apart as ordinance workers for the new temple, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Surgery was performed January 16. The next day was the scheduled first rehearsal for the choir.

“I wasn’t sure whether I should leave Debbie at that time to go sing in the choir,” he said. “She wanted me to go, but I wasn’t really sure.”

As the time approached for the rehearsal, he said, he heard a quiet but distinct voice say, “Aren’t you going to sing in my choir?”

“I thought, ‘Of course I will.’”

So with his wife’s support, he has been involved in the choir.

“We’ve dedicated these two months,” he said.

Sister Hendrickson is doing very well, with a good prognosis. She has had no physical repercussions, and with each choir rehearsal, her strength and well-being has improved, Brother Hendrickson said.

“And the choir has meant a lot to me and my wife in helping her spiritually and helping her to recover,” he said.

David and Rebecca McLaughlin, left, with Bill and Debbie Hendrickson. Bill was in the cornerstone ceremony choir conducted by Rebecca. The Hendricksons felt spiritually prompted that he should continue his involvement even though she had just had brain surgery. They say they have been blessed by the decision. Photo by R. Scott Lloyd, Deseret News.

The Provo City Center Temple will serve 29 stakes in the Provo and Springville areas, including student and single-adult stakes.

Between January 15 and March 5, more than 800,000 people attended open house tours of the temple.

A cultural celebration entitled “Beauty from Ashes” and featuring music and dancing by more than 4,500 youth performers was held the night before the dedication (see related article).

Provo City Center Temple as seen in the early morning hours on its dedication day, Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Crowds make their way into the Provo City Center Temple for the first dedication meeting Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Nicolas Frazzie takes a photo of his ticket for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Members make their way into the Provo City Center Temple for the first session of dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Provo City Center Temple on dedication day, Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Members make their way into the Provo City Center Temple for the first dedication meeting Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Crowds emerge following the first session of the dedication for the Provo City Center Temple Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Crowds emerge following the first session of the dedication for the Provo City Center Temple Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Crowds emerge following the first session of the dedication for the Provo City Center Temple Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

General Authorities and temple presidency members and their wives make their way to the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Crowds emerge following the first session of the dedication for the Provo City Center Temple Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Crowds emerge following the first session of the dedication for the Provo City Center Temple Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Ushers Rachel Hendrickson and Bethany Fugal take a photo outside the Provo City Center Temple following the first session of the dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

From left, Elder Kent F. Richards, Elder L Whitney Clayton, President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Michael T. Ringwood stand outside the Provo City Center Temple moments before the third session on Sunday, March 20. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

From left, Elder Kent F. Richards and his wife, Marsha; Elder L Whitney Clayton and his wife, Kathy; President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy; Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Kristen; Elder Gary E. Stevenson and his wife, Lesa; and Elder Michael T. Ringwood and his wife, Rosalie, stand outside the Provo City Center Temple moments before the third session on Sunday, March 20. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

From left, Bishop Dean M. Davies and his wife, Darla; Elder Larry Y. Wilson and his wife, Lynda; Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Kristen; Elder M. Russell Ballard and his wife, Barbara; Elder Kent F. Richards and his wife, Marsha; and Sister Linda S. Reeves and her husband, Mel, stand outside the Provo City Center Temple prior to the second dedicatory session on Sunday, March 20. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

Julianne, Eva, and Hyrum Zabriskie pose for photos next to the cornerstone of the Provo City Center Temple Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, watch as others take part in the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Dylan Edwards places mortar into the cornerstone during the ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles takes part in the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Center, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles conducts the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The masonry tools for the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

 

Families take photos next to the cornerstone after the ceremonial sealing of the stone at the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Members of the choir pose for photos following the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.