In a special meeting held Saturday in the Manti Tabernacle, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new temple to be built in Ephraim just minutes from Manti.
In a prerecorded message played at a press conference inside the Manti Tabernacle (7 miles, or 11 kilometers, south of Ephraim), Nelson said the new house of the Lord will be an important addition for the church’s growing membership in the area — including students at Snow College.
“We care about their well-being and their future,” Nelson said.
The temple in Ephraim will be the 252nd temple in the church and the 27th in Utah.
This comes following Nelson saying that much “thought and prayer” had gone into the decision. The new temple now changes the approach and amount of renovation and restoration that will happen at the Manti Temple just a short distance away.
Nelson also said the church has adjusted the renovation plans for the 133-year-old Manti Utah Temple. The project will still be, as detailed in March, a multiyear endeavor that includes mechanical upgrades, safety improvements and the implementation of filmed presentations of temple ceremonies to expand worship access in more than 90 languages.
The renovation of the Manti Temple will begin in October, he said.
“As we have continued to seek the direction of the Lord on this matter,” Nelson said, “we have been impressed to modify our earlier plans for the Manti Utah Temple so that the pioneer craftmanship, artwork and character will be preserved, including the painted murals loved by so many. We will leave those murals where they are located now — inside the Manti Utah Temple.”
Carrie Manning recently moved from Kent, Washington, to Ephraim. She listened to the announcement from her home.
“I just cried, it was so emotional. I live eight minutes from the Manti Temple,” Manning said. “There are exciting things happening. It was almost better to experience the announcement raw. You can say, ‘Yes, this is a revelation from God.’”
Manning said it was cool to see there are ways to influence for good. The concern of keeping murals in the Manti Temple has been raised in the area.
“Then they can go back to the Lord,” Manning said.
Manning also noted that Ephraim will have a Walmart and a temple, all they will need after that is a Costco.
Several artists and descendants of craftsman since the Manti temple renovation and plans had voiced concern about losing these historic treasures and history of the building.
Some groups have even held peaceful rallies and group fasts concerning the murals in the temple.
Murals in the rooms were painted by well-known LDS artists CCA Christensen, Dan Weggeland, John Hafen, JB Fairbanks, Minerva Teichert and John Shepherd.
Recognized as one of the best examples of pioneer architecture in the West, the Manti Temple is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The temple is a monument to the courage, endurance and faith of the early settlers.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided at the meeting broadcast from the Manti Tabernacle. He called it a day of “joy and rejoicing.” He also was with Nelson following the impressions to make the announcements and he testified that what Nelson received was revelation for the Manti Temple District.
The district covers 23 stakes, about 61,000 church members in Sanpete, Sevier and Carbon counties.
Rasband’s great-great-grandmother is buried in the Ephraim Cemetery and he said he had been left with the impression that there is rejoicing on the other side of the veil with the announcements.
The new Ephraim temple will be comparable in size to the Brigham City temple, which is approximately 36,000 square feet. The new temple will serve some 30,000 Latter-day Saints.
The Ephraim temple will have four endowment rooms that will seat 30 each, three sealing rooms and one baptismal font with sessions starting every half hour.
The new temple will bring a total of 252 temples in the church and the 27th in Utah. No site has been selected yet, but when plans are completed, it will take approximately two years to build.
Bishop Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric and counselor over temples and temple work said they are hoping that students attending Snow College in Ephraim will be able to walk to the temple.
“Every new temple built upon the Earth brings with it an increase of Christlike service, goodness and love of God and of neighbor,” said Elder Kevin R. Duncan, executive director of the Temple Department. “We are especially thrilled that, similar to students who attend other colleges and universities, students who attend Snow College will now have an easily accessible temple in which to serve and worship.”
The Manti temple
The expanded opportunity of a temple in Ephraim, will allow the church to preserve the classical character of the historic Manti temple, Nelson noted.
Temple Department Managing Director Brent Roberts said the Manti temple renovation will be a mix of preservation, restoration and installation of new equipment.
“Research has been done on many aspects,” he said, “including soil composition, limestone strength, concrete and plaster sampling, water infiltration methodologies and historic aspects of the original temple design.”
Current mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems will be evaluated, renewed or replaced.
Audiovisual equipment will be installed for the film presentations. And work will be done to eliminate or control water infiltration into the temple, primarily on its east wall and footing, he said.
“Great effort and research have also gone into the proper procedures and methods to clean, restore and preserve the finishes of the temple,” Roberts said.
“This includes the murals. As President Nelson said, they will remain in place, and we will be doing some cleaning and preservation of them, as we have been doing for many years.”
Waddell said the Manti house of the Lord is a “jewel of a temple.” Latter-day Saints “owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to determined pioneers who settled in this area and who had to battle rattlesnakes for possession of this valley,” he said. “During the construction of this sacred edifice [in the 1870s and 1880s], some workmen walked the 7 miles from Ephraim each Monday morning and back home again Saturday night.
“In addition to being self-sacrificing, their service was of the highest quality, Waddell said. “The work that will now be done will not only honor the Lord but will honor our pioneer forbears whose sacrifice and talent will continue to be on display for generations to come as members of the church worship in this sacred house of the Lord.”
Duncan said that during the construction of the temples in Ephraim and Manti, volunteers will be invited to serve in either the Cedar City or Payson Utah temples as needed.