Written by Grace Wride and Jessica Banks
A light rose pink color dusted the floral design throughout the beautiful, pure building. Gold trim and individually selected paintings hung from the perfected walls. Spotless carpets paved the way through the newly erected Pocatello Idaho Temple.
From Sept. 18 to Oct. 23, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will host the open house of the Pocatello Temple in preparation for its dedication on Nov. 7. The public is invited to attend a free tour of the temple, tickets can be reserved here.
On Sept. 13, before the official open house, the Church previewed the event for members of the media in Southeastern Idaho and other surrounding areas. Present at the event were General Authorities including Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Sister Camille N. Johnson, the General Primary President, Elder Gary Sabin of the Quorum of the Seventy and other area authorities.
Elder Stevenson, Sister Johnson and Elder Sabin addressed the media with remarks regarding the temple.
“As we enter the temple, over the entrance, (is) something that we universally see in all of the temples of the Church, ‘The house of the Lord,'” Elder Stevenson said. “And we believe it literally to be the house of the Lord, which gives us a devotion that we feel as we enter, and you’ll also notice that there’s an invitation with the phrase that is also included over the entrance of the temple, and that is ‘Holiness to the Lord.'”
Elder Stevenson echoed the invitation on the temple by encouraging individuals to conduct themselves in a way that would always be pleasing to the Lord.
“For the Lord to see His children, worship at the temple is considered, sacred and holy,” Elder Stevenson said. “In the temple, we make promises or covenants and those promises would include things like obedience to the Lord’s commandments, selflessness, faith in Jesus Christ unto repentance, living a virtuous life, being faithful to our families and our spouses and dedicating ourselves to the Lord.”
Sister Johnson said that she felt especially grateful and blessed to be in attendance because she was born in Pocatello.
“Today we celebrate the open house of a holy place, the house of the Lord, here in Pocatello,” Johnson said. “Shortly, it will be dedicated for the sacred purposes for which it was built. It is here, because of the dedication and consecration of faithful people who live in Pocatello, and the surrounding area.”
Sister Johnson specifically spoke about how important the temple is for the young people of the Church. She focused on members 12 years of age and how they can allow the feeling of belonging to the Savior to grow inside them.
Elder Sabin is the Assistant Executive Director of the temple department. In his position, he has played a large role in preparing for this event and the upcoming open house. During his remarks, he pointed out how much of the interior of the temple was based on Pocatello and its beauty.
“I think Chief Pocatello would be very pleased with his namesake here,” Elder Sabin said. “This is a historic event.”
Each of the speakers addressed the significance of temples in our eternal lives. The detail-oriented work is very specific in the importance of the building.
“And if you think about what temples really do, why we build temples, is because we are eternal beings,” Elder Sabin said. “They draw our attention to the total nature of mankind. And what happens after we pass on. I remember hearing a country song not long ago, you’re probably familiar with, ‘I wish you could live like you’re dying’ was one of the stanzas. Well, we’re all dying eventually and temples point us to eternity.”
At the conclusion of the press conference, the authorities presented a video that will be shown during the open house about the value of the Pocatello temple.
Inside the temple
Following the press conference, all media personnel were directed to the temple for the tour. Elder Stevenson and Elder Sabin led the group through each room, explaining the purpose of each one.
During his address, Elder Sabin pointed out that much of the artwork and design for the temple was centered around Southeast Idaho. Idaho’s state flower — the Syringa — ornamented much of the detail in the temple. Designers included a light green sage color throughout the design as well, as sagebrush is sprinkled around Idaho’s landscape.
Paintings of Idaho’s mountains, hills and lakes adorn many walls. One chapel displays a stained glass piece of Jesus Christ brought from a Eastern United States Presbyterian church about to be taken down.
White granite from China, stained glass from around the United States and wood from Africa were used in the construction and decorating of the temple.
The central message of the temple tour revolved around unity. Elder Stevenson mentioned numerous times how important it is that people who come to the temple feel unified with other patrons. He mentioned how all are equal inside the temple.
Each room of the temple exhibited the uniqueness of the Pocatello area and the holiness that abounds in the house of the Lord. Before entering the celestial room, the room in the temple that most resembles heaven, Elder Stevenson encouraged silence for individuals to reflect on the holy nature of that building.
Elder Stevenson explained in an interview with Scroll the role he has played in the erection of the temple. Before he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he was in the Presiding Bishopric. In that role he was primarily responsible for the design and construction of the temple.
Under the direction of the Prophet, the bishopric helps find a location for the temple. Currently, Elder Stevenson goes out on assignment from the prophet to dedications and other temple events.
“When we receive assignments to go to a temple for an open house or dedication, we always kind of feel like that’s just like one of those special blessings that you get, one of the assignments that you really enjoy,” Elder Stevenson said.
What it means for Pocatello
Members of the Church living in Pocatello were previously in the Idaho Falls temple district. For many, this meant they couldn’t attend as frequently as they’d like. The Pocatello temple will allow many members easier access to the house of the Lord.
Rojelio Campos, the stake president of the Pocatello Idaho West Stake, explained how the temple will affect young members.
“What it means is, because the temple is closer in proximity, they have the opportunity to be able to attend the temple before classes even start for the day …,” Campos said. “When attending the temple, you receive strength. You really do. And so the youth have the opportunity to do that.”
The newly erected temple will accommodate nearly 61,000 members including stakes in Pocatello, Blackfoot, American Falls, Aberdeen and others all the way up to Soda Springs.
In an interview with Scroll, Sister Johnson described the special connection she has to Pocatello and her feelings about her assignment.
“It’s such a privilege for me receiving this assignment … I got to come home to Pocatello, to my birthplace on my birthday,” Sister Johnson said. “And to me, it was really another reminder that my Heavenly Father and my Savior are aware of me and know me personally, what a tender opportunity for me to return home for my birthday to celebrate this really glorious event.”
What it means for students
Sister Johnson encouraged students to bring their friends to the open house. She explained how going to the temple is like going home.
“Now, is there a place you’d rather go than home?” Sister Johnson asked. “Home’s where we want to be, right? And the temple is an opportunity to feel the love of our Savior, feel the love of our Heavenly Father and have a better understanding of what we have to do to progress along the covenant pass so we can return to that heavenly home?”
Elder Stevenson explained the exceptional opportunity students have to see a variety of the temple’s rooms in an hour. Individuals usually only see one part of the temple when they visit.
“Even from attending a temple open house, it makes us want to be better, it turns our eyes upward, doesn’t it?” Elder Stevenson said to Scroll. “And when we live in a time when there’s so much division and lack of civility in the public square, it seems that many of us have lost our patience with others. You know, this is a place that teaches the opposite of that.”
All are encouraged to enter the holy temple through the open house in the coming weeks. The temple will be open everyday from Sept. 18 to Oct. 23 except Sundays and the weekend of general conference. More information about the temple can be found here.