Almighty and Eternal Father, Creator of heaven and earth and all that they contain, thou who art the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and of the spirits of all living; to thee, thy believing children here present bring our offering, and beseech thee to grant thy listening ear while we dedicate this temple unto thy most holy name.”
Those were the words of Lorenzo Snow, then a member of the Council of the Twelve, when he publicly dedicated the Manti Temple on 21 May 1888. And those were the words, prepared under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, which were given by President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, as he began the dedicatory prayer at the first session of the rededication services for the Manti Temple on June 14.
“Almost a century has passed since this temple was first used,” President Hinckley said in his prayer. “We thank thee for the great and marvelous work done here during those years.” He expressed gratitude for the impact of the Manti Temple on Saints who performed ordinances there while living, as well as on “great concourses beyond the veil.
“Now, after these many years, this house has been renovated and restored. With great care, its former beauty, so carefully crafted by its original builders, has been brought back.” He asked that the spiritual purposes of its restoration might be fulfilled. “Cause thy Holy Spirit to enter and pervade all its rooms and facilities. Sanctify it that all who are present today, and all who will enter it through the years to come, may feel the presence of thy spirit and recognize that they are in holy precincts.”
In remarks before the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley had called on his wife, Marjorie, to recount the experiences of her grandfather, a carpenter on the temple, who died at the age of twenty-four as a result of a hernia sustained while lifting the huge east temple doors into place. Sister Hinckley noted that her grandmother lived as a widow for sixty-two years, secure in the knowledge that she would one day be reunited eternally with her husband.
“I have been in the world’s great buildings,” President Hinckley commented, “and in none of these have I had the feeling I get in coming to these pioneer houses of God.”
In the last of the nine dedicatory services, on June 16, President Hinckley commented further: “This building was not constructed to be a work of art or a museum piece, but to accommodate the work and purposes of the Lord. These services have been a memorial, a celebration, and a new beginning.”
The dedicatory services did indeed mark a new beginning for the 97-year-old temple. Temple recorder John Henrie Nielson noted that 19,786 members attended the nine services. Most came from the twenty-seven stakes of the Manti Temple District, which extends throughout Central Utah and into the Durango, Colorado, area.
Those attending the session on June 14 heard President Hinckley announce that Wilbur W. Cox and his wife, Leonora, who have served as temple president and matron since 1978, will be retained in that capacity “a while longer.” President Cox has been in charge of overseeing the temple renovation.
Three new marriage sealing rooms, new dressing rooms, a children’s nursery area, and offices have been added to the temple. Other changes have included the installation of completely new air conditioning, heating, and plumbing systems; construction of apartments for temple workers; improvements on the access roads to the temple; refurbishing and recarpeting of the interior; and extensive renovation of the baptistry, including cutting of a new outside door to accommodate young people coming to do baptisms for the dead.
There are new wall coverings, drapes, and furnishings (in the design popular at the time of the temple’s construction), and many new lighting fixtures. Historic murals have been cleaned and lighted to their best advantage. A swatch of the original carpeting from the temple’s celestial room was located in a Manti home and sent to England, where special milling processes reproduced the colors and floral design of the original carpet.
Members of the temple district had an opportunity to help in the refurbishing. Sixty-four sisters from the stakes in Manti and nearby Ephraim spent a year working needlepoint upholstery for furnishings in one of the sealing rooms. Their work covered an altar and thirty chairs with designs in Persian yarn. There was “love, care, and pride sewn into each article,” commented Helen Dyreng, Manti Stake Relief Society president.
The care that went into the temple restoration was evident to the 40,308 visitors who toured the temple during the public open house June 6–8. They saw the ordinance rooms, sealing rooms, baptistry, priesthood assembly room on the upper floor, and even the two free-standing circular staircases designed by pioneer builder William Asper. President Hinckley referred to the staircases, built without a supporting center post and winding from the top of the temple to the bottom, as “an engineering marvel.”
It was evident that many visitors were impressed with the quality of the restoration.
“Is this where my tithing money goes?” a visitor about six years of age asked a guide. “This is part of it,” the guide assured. And the youngster finished the tour in a glow of pride.
Correspondent: Pat Mellor, a member of the Manti Utah Stake and the temple rededication committee.