President David O. McKay dedicated five temples, more than any other president of the Church to that point. Before his death, he also announced the sites of two more temples, one in Ogden, the other in Provo.
The Saints in Provo had been hoping for a temple ever since a stake conference there on 31 May 1884; the bench on which Brigham Young University stands had long been termed “Temple Hill.” When President McKay announced the new temple in August 1967, the response in the twenty-six stakes of that new temple district was immediate. One bishop announced his ward’s fund-raising quota in priesthood meeting; the ward met it—in cash—by the time Sunday School was over.
The Church already owned the land selected as the temple site—a piece high on the bench not far from the mouth of Provo Canyon. The ground was broken by President Hugh B. Brown on 15 September 1969, and President Joseph Fielding Smith, a counselor in the First Presidency, offered the invocation. More than 246,000 visitors toured the temple during less than three weeks when it was open to the public between January 10 and 29, 1972; it was dedicated February 9, 1972.
Today, thousands of members go to the Provo Temple, many of them college students who seek to increase their understanding of the gospel.
In a lesson for junior genealogical classes published in 1937, Elder John A. Widtsoe wrote about the importance of understanding the temple experience:
“Many young people object to temple work because ‘We must make covenants and promises, and we do not like to be tied; we want full freedom.’ This objection arises from a misunderstanding of the meaning of covenants. … Temple work, or any other work, would have no meaning unless accompanied with covenants. It would consist simply of bits of information for ornament; the covenant gives life to truth; and makes possible the blessings that reward all those who use knowledge properly; or the penalties that overtake those who misuse knowledge.” (Power from On High, Genealogical Society of Utah, 1937, p. 43.)