Following a month-long open-house which welcomed nearly 200,000 people for a walk-through of the new structure, the Cedar City temple, built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), will be ready for religious services after a Cultural Celebration and official dedication on December 10, 2017.
Settled by Mormon pioneers, Cedar City has a rich history founded on the perseverance of LDS church members. Seventeen stakes from southern Utah and eastern Nevada are part of this temple district, and many community members descend from Hole in the Rock pioneers, Iron Mission pioneers, and members of the Panguitch Quilt Walk.
Southern Utah University’s scholar on Mormon-related studies is its Dean of Library Services, Dr. Richard Saunders. “This temple includes design elements that reflect the community’s physical setting and culture. For instance, juniper branches are painted into ceiling corners, and the overall style reflects the straight, simple lines, the color schemes, and decor common to early homes in Iron County. The church was careful to design and decorate a building that reflects the heritage of the permanent settlers to this region.”
There are thousands of LDS church buildings around the world but far fewer temples. Once the Cedar City Temple is dedicated it will become the 159th operating LDS temple. Considered “houses of the Lord,” temples are not regular places of public worship. Saunders points out that LDS temples are unlike churches, synagogues, or mosques. “Those buildings are multiple-use spaces, accessible anyone without qualification.” Pointing to the open house as an example, “LDS temples are similarly accessible to anyone--prior to their dedication. Once they are dedicated, because they have specific uses, access is based on specific qualifications. Individual church members must present a regularly renewed “recommend” to participate in temple services. That document, signed by their congregational leaders, certifies that the holder’s personal understanding of doctrine, participation and commitment in the church, and personal integrity, meets the high standards set for temple attendance.”
“One of the chief reasons Mormons are so active in family history is because of temples. Members conduct proxy ordinances in dedicated temples, including baptism for ancestors. Mormons accept the Christian concept of an afterlife,” Saunders observes, “and accept that personal identity and consciousness continues after death. This means that despite what Mormons do in temples, those who are dead still have the ability to choose whether or not they accept the temple ordinances done in their behalf.”
Saunders summed up the Latter-day Saint view of temples by comparing them to a hospital. Not all rooms in a hospital are available just to walk in.