It's traditional for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to announce new temples at the beginning of its twice-yearly general conferences, but church leaders made two big breaks with tradition earlier this year. On Jan. 25, the Church announced plans to build a new temple in Payson, and on Feb. 17, the church announced a major renovation of the Ogden Utah Temple that will extend to completely eradicating the temple's unique exterior in favor of a design more in line with recent temple construction trends.
At the time of the announcement, Payson mayor Rick Moore said that there had been rumors about a new LDS temple circulating among city officials for weeks.
"We had known that they were looking for a couple of months, but hadn't heard anything" since then, Moore said. Conflicting rumors, he said, had suggested the new temple might be located in other nearby cities such as Santaquin or Salem. The temple site is adjacent to the intersection of 930 West and 1550 South, near Interstate 15, in Payson.
According to a church news release, President Thomas S. Monson, in announcing the new temple, said LDS temples are "sanctuaries from the storms of life and bless the lives of members of the church who worship within their sacred walls."
The new temple is the 152nd LDS temple either completed, announced or under construction. When finished, it will be the 15th operating temple in Utah, and the third in Utah County. The new temple will serve about 78,000 Latter-day Saints in 22 stakes from Spanish Fork to Nephi.
Those numbers suggest that the new temple may not be comparable in size to the Ogden Temple, which serves approximately 262,000 church members in 76 stakes.
Keith B. McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric said in a statement announcing the Ogden Temple renovation that the church decided to move forward with the project to make the redesigned temple better able to handle increasing usage and to participate in "the enhancement and beautification of downtown Ogden."
The temple in Payson will be well removed from that city's historic downtown area, but church members aren't likely to mind. Spanish Fork resident Mike Downey, 51, who serves as bishop of the Flonette 2nd Ward in Spanish Fork, said that he and his wife are "thrilled" about the news of the new temple. "It's something that we've certainly looked forward to," said Downey, a lifelong resident of Spanish Fork and Benjamin. "We've wanted to see a temple in the south end of Utah County for some time."
Clarke Hoover, a computer technician for the Orem Public Library who lives in Payson, said it had been strongly rumored around town about 10 years ago that a temple might be built there. Hoover, 48, said that most residents of south Utah Valley drive to the LDS temple in Provo to participate in temple worship.
The Provo Utah Temple, one of the largest temples in the world, is also heavily used by church members in central Utah Valley, students attending church-owned Brigham Young University and young men and women preparing to serve proselytizing missions at the LDS Missionary Training Center in Provo.
No dates for the groundbreaking to precede construction of the new temple have been disclosed. Church publicists said that artists' renderings of the new temple, its dimensions and other details of its construction will be announced as they become available.
That differs from the Ogden Temple renovation, which has already been planned in extensive detail. In announcing the project with McMullin, Elder William R. Walker of the First Quorum of the Seventy said that the renovation will shift the Ogden Temple's entrance from its west side to its east.
The temple grounds will be completely re-landscaped, and the historic Ogden Tabernacle, which stands adjacent to the temple, will also undergo major renovations, including the removal of its tower and steeple.
One subtle effect of the Ogden Temple renovation will be to make the Provo Temple more unique. The temples in Ogden and Provo were originally constructed over the same period, using nearly identical architectural styles. Once the Ogden Temple's facelift is complete, the Provo Temple's layer-cake spire, rounded shape and tall exterior panels will be one-of-a-kind.
Utah Valley residents can expect things to remain that way, too: Church officials said that there are no plans to redesign or renovate the Provo Temple.