Monday , April 02, 2018 - 5:15 AM1 comment
LAYTON — When it was announced Sunday that the LDS Church will build a new temple in Layton, some church members were so surprised, they thought it might be an April Fool’s joke.
“At first I thought (LDS Church) President (Russell M.) Nelson was joking. But then, I thought ‘He’s at the pulpit. I don’t believe he would kid in this setting,’” lifelong church member and Layton resident Jennifer Jones said.
Layton’s new temple was one of seven announced Sunday, April 1, at the close of the 188th annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. There are 159 temples worldwide, with another 30 announced or under construction.
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Jones said she was thrilled by the announcement, especially because rumors of a Layton temple had swirled for years.
“We’ve heard off and on for years that one was coming, but we just thought it was a joke,” she said.
Layton Mayor Bob Stevenson knew about the temple for a few days and was invited to General Conference for the announcement.
“It’s been one of the hardest secrets to keep. It was so hard not to say something. There is so much excitement with this,” he said.
The temple is a win for Layton and surrounding communities, members and city officials say, acknowledging a growing population and development in the area.
“There is no question that there will be more people who will come to our community,” Stevenson said.
At 67, Craig McMillan, a former stake president of the Layton Utah Kays Creek Stake, said there was only one ward — the LDS term for a congregation — in Layton when he was born. Now, that’s changed.
“Now there are 14 stakes with two that need to be divided, so this is exciting news,” McMillan said. A stake is a group of at least five wards and up to about a dozen.
Layton City Councilmember and church member Joy Petro pointed to growth not only in Layton but in Syracuse and West Point as evidence that the temple is needed.
She also said a new temple will put an end to Layton residents being “bounced around” between the Ogden and Bountiful temple districts. A member of the Creekside LDS Stake, Petro said her stake assignment switched four times between the two temples while the Ogden temple was undergoing its remodel.
“There won’t be any excuses for not being able to go now,” Petro said of temple attendance the church encourages from its members.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Layton City Councilmember Joyce Brown said. “Layton has a deep heritage of pioneers and people who have established this area. There are a lot of established families and a lot of new growth.”
After the announcement, state Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, heard from his three daughters now living in Lehi, Seattle and Iowa, all of whom were thrilled that their native Layton would sport a temple.
“I am just astounded,” he said. “It took everybody by surprise.”
A former stake president of the Layton Utah East Stake and the Layton Kays Creek Stake in the 1980s and ’90s, Handy said talk of a temple in Layton has long been a fascination for residents there.
Speaking of the city’s focus on developing a diverse community, Stevenson said the excitement will be shared by LDS members and non-members alike.
“We have worked very hard to develop our community so that all different faiths and congregations are working together,” Stevenson said. “I believe all the other faiths and congregations will be excited for the spiritual significance it will bring to the community.”
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