Temple Moment: The Widow’s Mite and a Mighty Temple

Contributed By Elder L. Edward Brown, emeritus General Authority

  • 6 May 2016

The Provo Tabernacle, completed in 1896.  Photo courtesy of Deseret News Archives.

“We should pray for the Spirit of God for we have been told to pray always. If we do a full work, we will get full pay.” —Marn Hansen Peterson, Cedar Fort, Utah, 1886

Several months ago a cousin of mine gave me a copy of the Cedar Fort Relief Society Minute Book, 1885–1889, which included entries about our great-great-grandparents Ole Peterson and Marn Hansen Peterson. They were baptized in 1851 in Denmark, having been taught by Apostle Erastus Snow and Elder John Forsgren. They came to the U.S. in 1857 by boat, train, handcart, and finally wagon train, arriving in Utah in 1861. Ole and Marn settled in Cedar Fort, Utah, a small and isolated town in Utah Valley, and lived there the remainder of their lives, raising seven children to adulthood.

The Relief Society minute book of 1885–1889 records the activities of a small but very committed and faithful group of sisters. Many of their testimonies are recorded word for word, and it is especially humbling and inspiring to read of their dedication, typical of the great sisters of the Relief Society then and now, as they gave of their time and meager means to the poor, to building projects, to food storage, and so on.

Especially impressive, in light of the recently dedicated Provo City Center Temple, are the following entries:

“February 19, 1885: Sophronia Cook gave one dollar for the tabernacle. July 9, 1885, Sister Malinda Cook gave 50 cents for the tabernacle. March 19, 1885, Hannah Dayton put in 50 cents for the tabernacle. August 6, 1885, Hannah Dayton gave two dollars and a quarter for the Provo Tabernacle. September 24, 1885, Sister Peterson (my great-great-grandmother) gave one dollar and six bits for the tabernacle.”

Ground was broken for the Provo Tabernacle in 1882. In 1886, the April general conference was held in the tabernacle even though it would not be dedicated until 1898. The tabernacle stood for more than 100 years before it was destroyed by a fire and remade into a beautiful temple.

In her last recorded testimony, Sister Peterson wrote on May 6, 1886, “We should pray for the Spirit of God for we have been told to pray always. If we do a full work, we will get full pay.”

On October 7, 1886, the minutes state, “Brother Peterson says the Lord’s house shall be established in the tops of the mountains and all nations shall flow to it.”

And now, one of the houses Brother Peterson spoke of in the tops of the mountains, the construction of which was paid for in part from the “widow’s mite,” stands as a monument to this humble little group of Relief Society sisters in Cedar Fort, Utah.

—Elder L. Edward Brown, emeritus General Authority