The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is known worldwide for its building of temples. Since the first pioneers came to the Salt Lake Valley they have planned and worked hard to build these sacred buildings known as “the House of the Lord.”
The iconic Salt Lake Temple is being renovated and upgraded so that it may continue to serve members of the church for many years to come. Later this year the Manti Temple in central Utah will close for renovation.
On Friday, the First Presidency of the church — which includes President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring — announced what those upgrades will now include and that another of the church legacy temples will close for extensive renovation.
“As this project has progressed, we have felt the Lord’s hand guiding us in modifying several aspects of the renovation,” the First Presidency statement said. “The Salt Lake Temple is at the heart of Church headquarters. As the Prophet Isaiah foretold, many will come to this house of the Lord from all nations (see Isaiah 2:2–3). Many changes are being made to ensure a familiar, uplifting experience for members who attend that temple. In addition to the seismic protection, which is the principal reason for the temple renovation, many other improvements and changes to the temple and its surroundings are being made.”
Among these changes, that will allow for almost double the capacity from before the renovations, include:
• Two more instruction rooms, additional sealing ordinance rooms, and a second baptistry are being added to allow for greater capacity and more temple ordinances.
• Previously, the member experience in this temple included a progressive room-to-room presentation by live actors. When the temple reopens, this will transition to single-room presentations by film, available in more than 80 languages (previously presented only in English). This decision also will make it possible to hold more sessions each day. And finally, we hope it will help more members feel confident to serve as ordinance workers without the requirement for lengthy memorization.
• The area that previously housed the temple cafeteria will now accommodate additional temple facilities to support the increased capacity of the temple. There will not be a cafeteria included when the temple reopens.
“As we make these significant changes for the future, many historic elements are being impacted,” the statement said. “For example, the addition of new instruction rooms, a new method of presentation, seismic strengthening, and changes to meet accessibility requirements meant that the murals in the temple would need to be moved and/or repainted.”
The First Presidency noted that it was impossible to know whether the murals could be preserved during such a move. They were originally painted directly on lath and plaster walls, which had been repaired and repainted many times because of water damage and other deterioration.
Further, the change to a film presentation meant that the rooms would be reconfigured. For all these reasons, the murals were carefully photographed and documented before removal, and some of the original portions are being preserved in the church’s archives.
Many other historic features of the building also have been photographed, documented, replicated and in some cases, architecturally salvaged, the statement said.
“We look forward to the day when the renovation is complete and we can welcome friends from around the world to tour the temple prior to its dedication, and then for members to once again worship in this beautiful house of the Lord,” the First Presidency stated.
“As announced in April of 2019, the Manti Temple is also scheduled to be renovated and renewed as part of our effort to preserve and extend the life of our pioneer-era temples,” the First Presidency stated.
Beginning later this year, the Manti Temple will begin a multi-year renovation that will include mechanical updates and other changes to prepare the temple to serve for generations, according to the statement.
Similar to the changes in the Salt Lake Temple, the progressive room-to-room presentation by live actors will transition to single-room presentations by film.
The murals also will be photographed, documented and removed. Some elements of the temple’s structure will be updated to accommodate these changes and improve accessibility for patrons. The historic staircases in the Manti Temple (and Salt Lake Temple) are being preserved during the renovations.
With each of these temples, there is a desire to ensure that the learning and experience are similar for all who come to the temple from anywhere in the world. The same ordinances, covenants and authority are available in every temple, and will now be presented in the same way, and now in more than 80 languages, according to the statement.
“The historic pioneer-era temples have been a blessing to the Latter-day Saints for more than 140 years, and we know that with the updates and renovations now announced or underway they will continue to serve their sacred purpose for generations to come,” the First Presidency stated.