UTAH – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced an update to the major renovation and restoration project for the Manti Temple on Saturday.
At the same time, President Russell M. Nelson also announced a new temple for nearby Ephraim, Utah.
Church officials said the Manti Temple would close on October 1st of this year, for about 18-24 months. The renovation will include mechanical updates and improved accessibility. But the pioneer-era murals will be preserved. The historic staircases should also stay.
The updates in Manti will allow the presentation of the endowment to be on film. Church officials explained film presentation will allow more ordinance workers to serve because there will be no need to memorize the endowment for live sessions. It will also be offered in 90 languages.
Members who are typically served by the Manti Temple are invited to attend any temple of their choosing while the Manti Temple is closed. And temple workers who currently work at the Manti Temple can serve in other temples as needed, including those in Payson and Cedar City.
The Manti Temple was dedicated in 1888. It covers 23 stakes in the temple district in Central Utah, including Sanpete, Carbon, and Sevier Counties.
Another announcement – Ephraim, Utah, to be the site of a new temple
In the same recorded message, President Russell M. Nelson announced a new temple for nearby Ephraim, Utah.
This is the first time in recent memory that a new temple has been announced outside of General Conference. Generally, new temple announcements are made at General Conference, which is held twice a year and attended by church members worldwide.
“This gives us kind of a jump, we don’t have to wait until Conference to do it,” said Brent Roberts of the Church’s special projects department. He was there for the announcement.
The Ephraim Utah Temple
Church officials said the new temple in Ephraim will be comparable in size to the temple in Brigham City. The schedule for the new temple will allow sessions to begin every 30 minutes, which will greatly increase the capacity to serve and worship in the temple.
Bishop W. Christopher Wardell of the Church’s presiding bishopric explained that the Ephraim Temple will be the 252nd temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the 27th for the state of Utah.
“I think it says a lot about the wonderful, faithful members of this area. This Manti temple has been very busy. It has had one session an hour, and the new temple in Ephraim will have two sessions an hour,” said Bishop Wardell.
Once the design and plans are approved, construction on the Ephraim Temple will take approximately two years. No site has been selected yet, but officials said they hope many members Church members, including those at Snow College, will be able to live within walking distance of the temple.
“We care about their well-being and their future,” President Nelson said.“Prior to the announcement of the Ephraim temple, plans were made to make significant enhancements to the Manti temple,” Bishop Wardell said.
“These were intended to add years to its life. But with the addition of the Ephraim temple, the scope of the work on the Manti temple has changed. It will take 18-24 months to complete.”
The announcement of the new temple in Ephraim means there will be two temples within 7 miles.
An emotional announcement
President Nelson became emotional when announcing the Ephraim Temple. He has ancestors from the area as does Elder Ronald A. Rasband, who also spoke on Saturday.
“We have given lots of thought for the sacrifice of the pioneers,” President Nelson said. “Over time, countless craftsmen, artists and laborers have created this unique treasure.”
Elder Rasband said his ancestors came from Denmark to this area of Central Utah. His great-great-grandmother is buried in the Ephraim cemetery.
“I have a deep impression today that not only is there rejoicing in this temple district, but there is rejoicing on the other side of the veil from many of our ancestors,” he said.
Elder Rasband told members of the media afterward that this announcement came rather quickly. He had only ten days or so to prepare, He says he knows it was revelation to the prophet.
President Nelson concluded his remarks by saying, “We are in the work of the almighty God. Jesus is the Christ. This is His church. We are his servants.”
Pioneer-era murals in the Manti temple
Earlier, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the pioneer-era murals which are housed in the Manti temple would be removed. But on Saturday, President Nelson said the murals can stay.
He explained that the pioneer temple needs upgrades to keep it useful and safe. It also needs to be revised to offer the revealed ordinances and covenants for members who speak languages other than English.
But the addition of the Ephraim Temple changed the scope and timeline of the Manti Temple. Adding more sessions in Ephraim means the inside of Manti did not need to be changed nearly as much.
“We believe we can accomplish what we need to with preservation inside, refreshing the temple without changing walls on the inside, and on the exterior,” said Roberts.