CEDAR CITY, Utah
The soon-to-be-dedicated Cedar City Utah Temple is Iron County’s newest structural landmark — but if it appears to be much older, there’s good reason.
Designers of the Church’s 159th temple wanted this towering building — with its “can’t-be-missed” locale that’s prominently visible to southbound motorists on I-15 — to double as a tribute to this region’s rich pioneer heritage.
The 39,802-square-foot edifice could be called an architectural cousin to the venerable Mormon temples in St. George and Manti — and to other historic Utah buildings in St. George, Beaver and Fillmore.
Visitors here “will feel like they are stepping back in time to the 19th-century,” said Elder Larry Y. Wilson, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Church’s temple department.
“When you look at the décor of the temple — the colors, the textures — everything about it evokes a building of that era.”
Elder Wilson hosted a large group of reporters Oct. 23 on a tour through Utah’s 17th temple, which is scheduled to be dedicated on Dec. 10.
Prior to the dedication, tens of thousands of people are expected to visit the temple during the public open house, which begins Friday and runs through Nov. 18 (except for the Sundays of Oct. 29, Nov. 5 and Nov. 12).
The Church enjoys a long history in Iron County’s largest city. Two years after the Mormon Pioneers settled the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, the apostle Parley P. Pratt confirmed the existence of rich veins of iron ore in the Cedar Valley. Another apostle, Elder George A. Smith, led a group of settlers to the region in 1851. Then the hardworking pioneers got to work — sharing the gospel with many of the indigenous Paiutes and building a community that continues growing 166 years later.
For Iron County Mormons, the St. George Utah Temple — located about 50 miles south of Cedar City — has served as a beloved, spiritual anchor for more than 140 years.
“But it has been a dream of the members of our Church here to have a temple in this location,” said Elder Wilson. “That dream has now been realized.”
Iron County-inspired beauty
The region’s natural wonders are reflected throughout the Cedar City Utah Temple. Deep rusts and corral blues define the interior’s colorful, calm palette.
“We have a lot of art glass that you can see from the exterior windows,” said the temple’s project manager, Mark Berry in a news release. “And in some of the design of that art glass from the exterior is a flower design. It’s kind of a columbine flower that is found in the high mountain valley areas in southern Utah.”
African mahogany woodwork and stone and tile flooring from Israel, Turkey, Spain and Iran reveal the quality and beauty of the building’s construction.
The goal of the recently completed Cedar City temple, said Elder Wilson, “was to create something that is worthy of an offering to God.”
Located at the opposite-side entrances of the new edifice are two historic, deep-colored windows that were recovered and donated to the Church from the Astoria Presbyterian Church in Queens, New York, when the building was razed nine years ago. Both windows depict the Savior for whom the temple was built.
“Everything in the temple centers on Jesus Christ,” emphasized Elder Wilson.
Eight original pieces of art have also been placed inside the new temple. Some depict the life of Christ — including His forgiving, life-saving moment with the woman taken in adultery. Others capture the world-famous red cliff landscapes of nearby Bryce and Kolob canyons.
During Monday’s tour, Elder Wilson walked with the media visitors through the temple baptistry, the bride’s room, sealing and ordinance rooms and the majestic yet subdued celestial room. In each room he explained the eternal purpose of temples. He frequently stopped to point out symbolism found representing purity and the disciple’s ascent to his or her heavenly home.
“Striving to become a better person is what the temple is all about,” he said.
It’s a sanctified refuge, he added, to discover personal revelation and guidance.
In one of the temple’s three sealing rooms, Elder Wilson spoke of being sealed, as a 7-year-old boy, to his parents and siblings inside the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. Kneeling together at the temple altar and being forever linked as a family remains one of the Church’s leader’s favorite childhood memories.
“It gave me a sense of eternal belonging,” he said.
A historic moment for all of Cedar City
Becki Bronson is proud to call herself “a Cedar City girl.” In the decades she’s called Iron County home, she’s come to love the area and its people.
The city’s first temple, she said, “has been on our hearts, minds and lips” since it was announced by President Thomas S. Monson on April 6, 2013. Ground was broken for the temple on Aug. 8, 2015.
Bronson is counting down the days until the temple is dedicated and she and her fellow Mormons here can get to work. The inviting edifice has already become a powerful tool of instruction and guidance for many local families.
“I can teach my children on a regular basis about the importance of the temple,” she said.
Elder Wilson said the impact of the Cedar City temple would be felt beyond the neighboring Mormon congregations.
“This temple forever changes [Cedar City],” he said. “It becomes a symbol that there is a House of God — a place more holy than any other — in this community. Every time you drive by it you can’t help but be inspired by its beauty and to have your thoughts drawn toward God and His purposes for this earth and for your life.”
Once dedicated, the Cedar City Utah Temple will serve approximately 45,000 Latter-day Saints in 17 stakes in southern Utah and eastern Nevada.