SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (News4Utah) - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is giving the public a chance to go inside the newly renovated Jordan River Temple.
The temple, situated in South Jordan, was announced in 1978 and dedicated in 1981. Since then, it has become one of the busiest LDS temples in the Salt Lake Valley and in the world. It is the 20th temple constructed by the LDS Church.
Temples differ from LDS meetinghouses in that only members in good standing and who are conducting their lives in accordance with the standards of the Church may enter once the temple is dedicated. Inside, members of the Church make promises to God that they will keep His commandments. Those promises, according to LDS leaders, are known as "covenants."
"I feel peace and I feel calm [in the temple]," said South Jordan resident and LDS Church member Courtney Blackham, who frequented the Jordan River Temple before it closed for renovations in 2016. "I'm able to think about my life and my purpose here."
Some additions to the Jordan River Temple are subtle; new carpet, structural reinforcements and new artwork. There are new paintings by Orem artist Elspeth Young which depict women in scripture. There are also paintings of Utah's landscapes, including a new painting by Jeffrey Hine depicting Hobble Creek Canyon. Members will notice artwork depicting women of various ethnicities in attitudes of worship and prayer, a sight rarely seen in LDS temples.
For Blackham, it signifies what she believes is the Church's positive view of women and the roles they play.
"I feel very valued as a woman, as a mother, as a youth leader," Blackham said.
The renovations also include an updated baptistry, where members can be baptized on behalf of ancestors who never got the opportunity to do so.
The temple, constructed in 1980 and 1981, is three stories tall. The statue of the angel Moroni, which sits atop most LDS temples, here holds the golden plates - or the plates from which Mormons believe the Book of Mormon was translated. The Book of Mormon is a sacred text held by LDS faithful that is comparable to the Bible, and Mormons believe it was discovered and translated from an ancient tongue by the Church's founder and Prophet, Joseph Smith.
The statue of Moroni is rarely depicted holding the plates, according to Elder Larry Y. Wilson, executive director of the Church's temple department.
Wilson said tens of thousands serve in the Jordan River Temple annually. Many who frequented the Jordan River Temple have been serving in the nearby Oquirrh Mountain Temple during the renovations.
Light pours through the temple on each level. Handcrafted stained-glass windows, a feature rarely seen in Mormon temples, are visible as visitors climb the newly-crafted grand staircase, which replaces escalators.
The temple also kept its cafeteria, also rare in newer temples.
A beautiful bridal room is now featured, where women who are getting married can prepare for their ceremony, or "sealing," a ritual that takes place in one of 16 sealing rooms. LDS faithful believe marriages performed in temples is binding on earth and in heaven. The concept of "eternal marriages" is reinforced by mirrors on each end of the sealing rooms, in which couples often look and see repeating reflections, representing the eternal nature of their union.
Temples are constructed, renovated and maintained through tithing money paid by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Faithful members of the Church pay ten percent of their annual income in tithes. That money is used for various purposes, including temple-building and maintenance.
"It's an exciting time for member of the Church to come back to the Jordan River temple and see it in a condition that is both familiar and even better than when it was new," said Elder Wilson.
The open house will be held from Saturday, March 17 to Saturday, April 28. Anyone who is interested can enter the temple and see the new renovations. After the temple is dedicated, entrance into the various rooms of the temple is restricted to practicing members of the LDS faith.
Tickets to the open house are free to the public and are available here.
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