First look: Tour inside Ogden LDS temple

Wednesday , July 30, 2014 - 8:11 PM

OGDEN -- A desert rose and prairie grass motif in the newly renovated Ogden Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was unveiled Tuesday during media tours of the building.

Public tours are to start Friday and continue throughout August until Sept. 6. Tickets are available at templeopenhouse.lds.org/tickets/.

“This is an important event and an important part of Ogden City culture,” said Elder Craig Fisher, an Area Seventy official of the church and coordinator of the temple re-dedication committee.

He said within a day or two of last Monday’s opening of the temple tour ticket website, 300,000 to 400,000 ticket reservations had been made for tours of the temple.

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Elder Kent F. Richards, a member of the Second Quorum of Seventy for the church, said all exterior and interior walls of the temple have been re-done and reflect well the theme of desert rose and prairie grass.

A beautiful depiction of the theme is found in the one-of-a-kind rug positioned in a new bridal preparation room in the temple. The rug will not be available for public viewing during the tour, officials said, out of an effort to keep the rug new.

Richards said that theme and the keeping of a mural, which was originally featured in the temple, were designed for a specific message.

The mural is a painting by Robert L. Shepherd in 1976 of a scene on the Mount of Transfiguration, featuring a transfigured Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah near three apostles as depicted in the New Testament.

“This is to connect to the past as we go forward to the future,” he said.

The building features stained glass and specially made carpets throughout the building featuring the flowers and grass.

Also a central focus is new artwork reflective of the church’s worldwide reach as well as a belief in Christ having visited the Americas anciently. One new print shows Christ with Native American children on each side.

Officials said this print is a copy of a painting in the temple in San Salvador, El Salvador.

One striking piece is a print of a painting of an African woman kneeling in an emotional prayer that hangs at the entrance to the women’s dressing room. Fisher said the print, a copy of a new painting in the temple in Johannesburg, South Africa, is one of his favorite aspects of the renovated Ogden temple.

“It just melts my heart,” Fisher said.

Steve Thueson, area director of the church’s temple department, also said the painting was a personal favorite.

“It’s a stunning pose,” Thueson said. “The look on her face is outstanding.”

Large river scene paintings reminiscent of local scenery hang on each side of the baptismal font, creating a feeling of a river flowing through the baptistry. Also new is a huge original painting of Christ being baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

A now central feature in the ceiling of the temple’s celestial room is a lighted glass dome in the place where a chandelier recently was the prime focus. Surrounding the dome now are four smaller chandeliers.

The dome is etched with design elements repeated throughout the temple.

Other temples have domes with chandeliers in the center, said Richards. This time the chandelier was left out, to better show simple beauty of the glass, he said.

Light shining through the dome is not from the sun, but LED lights, he said, because the dome is under the spire.

Also announced during the tour was that the Ogden Temple now features more stonework with its granite flooring and wall coverings than any other temple in the church. Thueson said he was told by a worker in the remodeling that the Ogden Temple had the most stonework.

Much of the temple’s 120,000 square feet is adorned with Egyptian granite flooring and wall adornments.

The temple also features African mahogany woodwork.

When asked about the prudence of keeping much of the old Ogden Temple intact instead of starting over with a new temple, Fisher said: “I think there is something to be said for preserving as much as you can.”

And Fisher said he was excited for what people will find when they visit the Ogden Temple.

“It was a lovely place but I think it is made into a more beautiful place now,” he said.

Fisher’s wife, Julia Fisher, explained the importance of the building to news media who participated in the tour.

"This, to us, is the house of the Lord,“ she said. ”It’s a sacred place, a peaceful place. Once it’s dedicated, it will be His house. It will be reverenced and respected. Those who are worthy to come will enter the doors.“

Julie Fisher said there is something to be appreciated about the desert rose message in the temple.

"I think about the desert and that rose grows wild,” she said. “Just like the land, it blossomed when the saints came,” she said, referring to a pioneer heritage of settlers in the area.

When the Ogden Temple was originally dedicated in 1972, Richards said, it was the 14th temple in the church. Now, it is one of 14 temples in Utah.

You may reach JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at JaNaeFrancisSE. Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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