BETA

Thousands view 'sacred precincts'

Eyes often turn heavenward as people view the newly opened Bountiful Utah Temple.

In daytime, from its upward elevation, the temple's Bethel white columns have become a landmark against the rolling mountain ridges. After nightfall, its illumined lines shine softly over the valley.Even so, when its doors opened to the press Nov. 3, and to the public Nov. 5, few were prepared for the reverent grandeur of the interior.

See photos of interior, page 6.

The building is elegant without ostentation. Its natural cherrywood moldings and attractive furniture contribute to a welcoming, almost homey atmosphere. Designs painted on the ceilings throughout the temple reflect an intricate, inviting motif. The chandelier in the bride's room seems to be a bouquet of glass, a celebration of the importance of temple marriage. The celestial room opens to double high ceilings, two-story-high artistic glass windows and its chandelier, a fountain of crystal in frozen cascade.

But according to comments of some who visited, the spiritual feeling in the temple impressed them most.

Thousands - news media representatives, VIPs, neighbors, construction workers and others - attended the pre-opening tours Nov. 3-4, while more than 30,000 visited on opening day, Nov. 5. Another 21,000 visited Nov. 7, for a total of some 70,000 by Nov. 7.

On Nov. 3, Elder James E. Faust of the Council of the Twelve was on hand to welcome news media representatives.

"These are to us the most sacred precincts in the whole world, our temples," he told the media. "Temples are the center of our worship. This is because we undertake, through the restoration of the authority to the Prophet Joseph Smith, to seal and bind on earth that which is to be sealed in heaven.

"And when we talk about temples, you need to understand that the heart of all of it is the eternal family. My wife and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple 51 years ago. There have been born to us five children. We have 22 grandchildren. For my wife and I, it would not be heaven without our children and their companions, and without our grandchildren."

Temple worship, he explained, is "not so much mystery and secrecy as sacredness." He explained that in January 1995, the dedication of the temple will be "a most marvelous experience . . . one of the great spiritual highlights of our worship."

Following the tour by the media representatives, the temple open house received considerable coverage in the local news media. One result of the publicity is an increase in requests for tickets. The center is now issuing some 10,000 a day.

Elder John E. Fowler of the Seventy, president of the Utah North Area and chairman of the Bountiful Temple Committee, conducted some of the VIP tours Nov. 4. He mentioned to one group that Church members prize family relationships and make great efforts to be sealed in a temple. Temples are places to contemplate the importance of marriage and family, reflect on challenges and to find peace, he said.

Elder Blaine P. Jensen, regional representative and vice chairman of the temple committee said that despite such obstacles as fog, rain, snow and wind, nearly all the ticket holders are showing up for their turn to tour the temple.

"We have had a wide range of people visit," he said in a Church News interview. "A lot of members are bringing non-member friends. The visitors have had some wonderful experiences. People searching for answers have found them. One person said, `This has to be the true gospel. It could not be otherwise.'

"It has been our desire to have as many people as possible take part in the open house. It is a great blessing to serve."

He said some 40,000 volunteers will serve during the open house and dedication. The volunteers, he said, have enjoyed their service and have given "an overwhelmingly positive response."

Elder Jensen also expressed appreciation to Bountiful City and other local leaders for their cooperation in preparing for the influx of people during the open house.

Temple Pres. Harold C. Yancey and his wife, Ruth O. Yancey, temple matron, said that the temple has already had an impact on the nearby cities.

At the news conference, Pres. Yancey said: "The temple is placed so that many people can see it. It will be a great blessing to the entire area. All can point to it with pride as a place of beauty. We think this is an important facility not only for members of the Church, but also for Bountiful and the adjoining communities. We believe the temple will add a great deal to the area from the standpoint of tourism, and those who will want to come and enjoy the blessings of the temple."

In a later interview with the Church News, he said: "This is a beautiful facility. It is well-ordered and very functional."

Pres. Yancey said members in the temple district have responded eagerly for the opportunity to attend and serve in the new temple. He explained that the temple will open for temple work Jan. 17, and already 12 weddings have been scheduled for that day, and 115 scheduled so far.

Sister Yancey said during the interview that people have shown great love as they have been called.

"If there is some little thing they can do, the people want to. They have made quilts for the nursery and clothing for children. We have donated altar cloths with beautiful crocheting. The volunteers are so willing to serve and give generously of their time.

"I have never seen a group of Saints more excited than these are about the opening of the temple."

Open house information

The temple will be open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 17. It will be closed all day on Sundays, and after 6 p.m. on Mondays.

Complimentary tickets, which are required in order to coordinate the visits and reduce the lines, are still available and can be obtained by calling (801) 299-4222. Leaders emphasized there is no free "800" number. They also suggested visitors plan to arrive 15 to 20 minutes early in case of heavy traffic.

To avoid creating long delays and causing an inconvenience to others, ticket holders should come only at their scheduled times.