SOUTH JORDAN – Beka Madsen nestled her 3-month-old baby in her arms beneath a wide striped blanket and knew the little boy was witnessing history.
“It’s such a special day,” the young mother said. “It’s something that’s going to be here forever.”
Families and church leaders came from around the valley Saturday to participate in the groundbreaking for a building that Mormons will consider sacred – the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple. After turning earth with a golden-colored shovel and perhaps shaking LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley’s hand, they left, like Madsen, feeling that they had been part of something extraordinary.
“We couldn’t have a better Christmas present than the house of the Lord,” said Hinckley, who appeared in good spirits and nimbly thrust a shovel into the ground. “If the valley keeps growing, we may have to build another one.”
This will be the fourth temple in the Salt Lake Valley, following quickly on the heels of a new Mormon temple under construction in Draper for which ground was broken in August. It is the second for South Jordan, the only city in the world to have a pair of LDS temples.
The Oquirrh Mountain temple, the 13th in Utah, is expected to be completed within two years and will serve an estimated 83,000 Mormons in the region. The site sits on a bluff overlooking the valley where worshippers will one day have a view of a ring of mountains obscured Saturday by clouds. It is located at approximately 11022 S. 4000 West.
The new temple will boast a copper-clad spire reaching 193 feet with a 9-foot statue of the Angel Moroni, whom the LDS faithful consider significant in the gospel restoration in the early 1800s. Light beige granite quarried and milled in China will be used to face the building. Temples are not used for regular Sunday services, but are used for marriage, baptism and other ordinances.
At the dedication, Hinckley announced that another new temple was in the works in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Hinckley was accompanied at the groundbreaking by his two counselors in the church’s governing First Presidency, Thomas S. Monson and James E. Faust.
Often as people fly into Salt Lake City the pilot will note for passengers the world’s largest open-pit copper mine, Monson said. Now there will be an addition to his aerial tour. The pilot may say:
“In front of it is the gleaming white temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with an angel on top of the temple,” Monson said.
Remedy Akoteu’s family was thrilled Saturday the 5-year-old got to shake the hand of Hinckley, considered a “prophet, seer and revelator” by LDS members. The Riverton family said it was not what they expected. A groundbreaking like this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“At least he can say, when the temple is up and running, that he was there,” said Salote Akoteu, Remedy’s mom.
Original title: Mormons break ground for new S. Jordan temple
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