Welcome Back to the Jordan River Utah Temple

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News associate editor

  • 12 March 2018

Elder Larry Y. Wilson, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department, gives local media a tour of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

SOUTH JORDAN, UTAH

Sister Joy D. Jones and Elder Larry Y. Wilson teamed up as “tour guides” Monday, walking reporters and photographers through the placid rooms and hallways of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple.

But for the two Church leaders, being inside the historic edifice signified more than simply assisting the media with their stories and reports. Their thoughts were also on their own families—and the temple’s eternal promises.

Sister Jones, the Primary General President, said the Salt Lake Valley’s second temple has become “a second home” in recent decades. It’s where her five children had their first temple experience.

“There is a little piece of me here,” she said as she stood in the shadow of the towering building.

Elder Larry Y. Wilson, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department, gives local media a tour of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The Church gives local media a tour of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Her reflections Monday were with her son Trevor, who died a few months ago at the age of 39 following a long battle with cancer. “I cannot walk into [the temple] and not feel Trevor’s presence. I know we will be with him again, and that means everything.”

She told the Church News she couldn’t imagine grieving the loss of a child without the sacred assurances found inside the temple. “We miss our son terribly—but we rejoice that our Savior has made it possible for our family to be together again.”

The temple also defines Elder Wilson’s life.

When he was a little boy, he dressed in white, knelt at an altar in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, and was sealed to his family. Now a General Authority Seventy and the Church’s Executive Director of the Temple Department, he’s visited dozens of temples across the globe. But he remains anchored to that childhood temple memory of being forever connected to his parents and siblings.

“It was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” he said.

A towering landmark

The Jordan River Utah Temple has provided similar comfort and blessings to legions of Latter-day Saints living in the south end of the Salt Lake Valley. Dedicated in 1981, the 149,476-square-foot building is both an inviting physical landmark and a spiritual refuge from the world’s challenges.

After more than three decades of service, the Church’s 20th operating temple was closed in February of 2016 for extensive renovation.

“Over time, temples tire,” said Bishop Dean M. Davies, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. “It’s like owning a car. After a few years, you have to change the tires. And so in a temple, over a number of years, we have systems that show wear—heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical systems.”

Beyond the mechanical and seismic upgrades, workers also completely refreshed the interior of the Jordan River Utah Temple. Carpets have been replaced, and new murals and other art features are found throughout the building’s five levels. Mahogany-fluted millwork fashioned by Utah artisans harmonize with the interior’s drape motif design. New floor features throughout the temple include marble imported from Turkey.

Other renovation highlights include interior art glass, customized light fixtures, and a new art deco pattern motif applied on the ceiling in the celestial room. Meanwhile, a grand staircase has replaced the temple’s escalators. (Elevators are found throughout the temple to assist patrons with disabilities.)

New exterior features include a locally designed fountain near the temple’s main entry and an exit on the west side where newly married couples can greet their guests and take photos. The ornate west exit opens onto a concrete plaza replete with decorative metal bench seating.

“The Jordan River Utah Temple is better than when it was new. … We’ve even added 10,000 perennials outside,” said Elder Wilson with a smile.

Besides reducing operation and maintenance costs, the recently completed renovation reflects the Church’s commitment to being “a good steward in the community,” added Bishop Davies.

Long-time Jordan River Temple patrons such as Sister Jones said the renovations have not diminished the temple’s distinctive feel.

“The temple is beautiful,” said Courtney Blackham, of Riverton, Utah. “I grew up serving in this temple, so I’m so excited to bring my kids here. It’s all about families.”

The Church gives local media a tour of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Tour the temple

Now visitors of all backgrounds are invited to see the renovated temple for themselves. A public open house begins Saturday, March 17, and runs through April 28, except for March 18, 24, 25, and 31 and April 1, 8, 15, and 22. Free tickets are available at templeopenhouse.lds.org.

“We welcome everyone in the community to come see this beautiful temple,” said Elder Wilson. “It will give everyone a better understanding of what happens in an LDS temple and why they are significant to members of our faith.

“Plus, they will be able to see one of the most beautiful buildings to be seen anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley.”

Families can build timeless memories during the open house, added Sister Jones.

“I hope the temple will be filled with children,” she said. “As they walk through, they will feel the spirit of the temple and a desire to come back.”

The Church gives local media a tour of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The spire of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The exterior of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The spire of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The Church gives local media a tour of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

One of only five angel Moroni statues where Moroni is holding the golden plates sits atop the spire of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, speaks to the media in preparation for the public open house of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, speaks to the media prior to a tour of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder Larry Y. Wilson, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department, gives local media a tour of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The Church gives local media a tour of the newly renovated Jordan River Utah Temple in South Jordan, Utah, on Monday, March 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.