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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Brynley Roberts, 16, and her sister Taylor Roberts, 14, helped put shoe coverings on people as they entered the Saratoga Springs Temple for a tour on Monday ahead of its opening. They said it is a way to serve people who come see the new temple.
Brynley likened it to washing feet in the scriptures and said it is a good way to welcome people.
“We want to keep our holy place respectful and clean,” she said.
Both of them are very excited to be able to go to the temple more often, as they live near enough that they could walk to the new temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. located at 987 S. Ensign Drive. They say it will help them attend the temple much more than the once a week they typically visit the Mount Timpanogos Temple.
Brynley said her peers are also excited about the new temple, and they have already had some youth activities at the new temple, including helping with shoe coverings and cleaning the grounds.
“Everyone is so excited to have this beautiful, gorgeous temple … right next door to us,” she said.
The sisters said they watched each step as the temple was being built with excitement, and having a temple in their neighborhood makes it feel more like home.
The public can view the new temple during an open house period from April 15 to July 8. The Saratoga Springs Temple will be the 179th temple of the Church of Jesus Christ in operation; a total of 315 temples are currently in operation, being built or slated to be built.
Sister Kristin M. Yee, second counselor in the church’s Relief Society general presidency, said the assignment to come to the beginning of the open house was special to her because she walked around the Saratoga Springs Temple on Sundays with her sister, her brother-in-law and five nieces and nephews as the temple was under construction. She said they walked in the snow and in the sun and anticipated the temple being finished.
Talking with her family members about the temple has been a sweet experience for her.
“They’ve been preparing by going to the temple. … They’ve been doing temple and family history work and learning about the Savior in preparation for this. And I feel like the more we prepare, the more Heavenly Father can bless us,” Sister Yee said.
She said she hopes bringing children and youth to the temple during the open house will help them prepare to make covenants in the temple and have a desire to come closer to God.
“That is first and foremost, and the temple helps to facilitate that,” she said. “We need to teach and help them understand who they really are and who God is.”
Sister Yee said church members should look at the temple as a way to build a relationship with God, rather than something to check off a to-do list. She said members continually learn in the temple as attendance there gives members a renewed perspective and allows them to move forward with joy and hope.
“Temples hold a unique place in my heart and a special place for all the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We consider this to be the house of the Lord. The temple teaches us about who we really are, as God’s children, and who we may become,” she said.
Sister Yee said the beautiful craftsmanship in the temple is symbolic of God’s love, and the artwork is designed to remind members of the Savior and the world that he created for them.
Elder Evan A. Schmutz, first counselor in the Utah Area Presidency, said temples should be a symbol of the lives of members of the church. He said temples lift members, and members should lift and be a blessing in communities where they live. He said temples are beacons of light, and members can also share light with those around them.
“Temples are intended to reflect the serenity of heaven and bring to all who enter in a feeling of the love that God the Father and Jesus Christ have for all people. Each temple brings to the earth a peace that can only come from God,” he said.
Elder Schmutz encouraged people on Monday’s tour to consider the feeling of belonging that comes from the relationship with God as a father.
Elder Kevin R. Duncan, general authority seventy, said, “This is a house of the Lord for us, really is a place of peace. It’s a house of hope. We hope that as you tour the temple … that you’ll feel that peace and hope that we feel and the joy that this brings to us.”
He said everything that is in the temple has a connection to the Old Testament or the New Testament, including the 12 oxen that the baptismal font rests on.
Elder Duncan currently serves as executive director of the church’s Temple Department, overseeing temples around the world. He said church leaders extended the temple open house to last longer than usual because of the high demand, and they hope continuing it into the summer will allow people to visit multiple times and bring friends.
“We just want to make it available,” he said.
Even if you don’t have a reservation, Elder Duncan said to go ahead and visit the open house and they will try to allow everyone who comes to make it through, although scheduling a reservation is helpful to spread out attendees.
This is the first temple open house and dedication in Utah since 2018, when the Jordan River Temple was rededicated. Elder Duncan said as more temples are completed in Utah, the open house dates may be shorter.
He said as the church grows and as members’ desire to enter the temple grows, more temples will be built; and as the church builds more temples, even more members are going to the temple. The church found after opening the Draper and Oquirrh Mountain temples, attendance at Jordan River Temple increased because there was more availability.
“We would just invite everybody, not just in this area but the entire state or the region, to come to the temple and walk through it and understand a little bit of what we feel in the temple,” Elder Duncan said.
Previously, temple dedications have been accompanied by a youth celebration, but Elder Duncan said there will not be one this time because leaders want the focus to be on the temple itself. He said youth celebrations can be used for other occasions.
He said the church makes an effort to connect temples to the people who live and work in the area they are built, and the artwork and details in this temple are no different. The stained glass, which was created by Holdman Studios in Lehi, depicts Utah Lake, the nearby mountains and local birds. He said church architects reached out to local architects and designers to help establish the motifs that are seen throughout the temple.
The colors found in the temple — blues, purples, golds and greens — are designed to match local wildflowers and scenery.
Sister Yee said the uniqueness of each temple’s design is symbolic of different cultures and experiences throughout the world, but the temple is for everyone.
“That, hopefully, is the feeling that you’ll feel — this is for you,” she said.
The Saratoga Springs Utah Temple will be dedicated in three sessions on Sunday, Aug. 13, by President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor of the First Presidency. The dedication will be broadcast to congregations throughout the area.
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