President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Saturday, May 1, that the faith will build a new temple in Ephraim, Utah.
In a prerecorded message played at a press conference inside the Manti Tabernacle (seven miles, or 11 kilometers, south of Ephraim), the prophet said the new house of the Lord will be an important addition for the Church’s growing membership in the area — including students at Snow College. “We care about their well-being and their future,” President Nelson said.
The temple in Ephraim is the 252nd temple in the Church and the 27th in Utah.
The prophet also said the Church has adjusted the renovation plans for the 133-year-old Manti Utah Temple. The project will still be, as detailed in March, a multiyear endeavor that includes mechanical upgrades, safety improvements and the implementation of filmed presentations of temple ceremonies to expand worship access in more than 90 languages.
The renovation of the Manti Temple will begin in October 2021, he said.
“As we have continued to seek the direction of the Lord on this matter,” President Nelson said, “we have been impressed to modify our earlier plans for the Manti Utah Temple so that the pioneer craftmanship, artwork and character will be preserved, including the painted murals loved by so many. We will leave those murals where they are located now — inside the Manti Utah Temple.”
The advent of a temple in Ephraim and the adjustments to the Manti Temple “will expand future opportunities for members in this temple district to participate in sacred temple ordinances and, at the same time, allow us to preserve the unique classical character and useful life of the historic Manti Utah Temple,” President Nelson said.
After President Nelson’s remarks, additional details about both temples were shared by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Temple Department Executive Director Elder Kevin R. Duncan, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric and Special Projects Department Managing Director Brent Roberts.
“What we have just heard from our loving prophet is the mind and the will and the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder Rasband said. “This is a great announcement for the whole kingdom of God on earth.”
The New Temple in Ephraim
Elder Duncan said the new temple in Ephraim will be similar in size to the Brigham City Utah Temple, which is approximately 36,000 square feet. The new temple will serve some 30,000 Latter-day Saints and have four 30-seat endowment rooms, three sealing rooms and one baptismal font. Endowment sessions with film presentations will occur every half hour.
Bishop Waddell said the site and design of the temple will be released later. After design and permitting are finished, he said, the temple in Ephraim will take two years to build.
“Every new temple built upon the earth brings with it an increase of Christlike service, goodness and love of God and of neighbor,” Elder Duncan said. “We are especially thrilled that, similar to students who attend other colleges and universities, students who attend Snow College will now have an easily accessible temple in which to serve and worship.”
The Renovation of the Manti Utah Temple
Roberts said the Manti Temple renovation will be a mix of preservation, restoration and installation of new equipment.
Research has been done on many aspects, he said, including soil composition, limestone strength, concrete and plaster sampling, water infiltration methodologies and historic aspects of the original temple design. Current mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems will be evaluated, renewed or replaced. Audiovisual equipment will be installed for the film presentations. And work will be done to eliminate or control water infiltration into the temple, primarily on its east wall and footing, he said.
“Great effort and research have also gone into the proper procedures and methods to clean, restore and preserve the finishes of the temple,” Roberts said. “This includes the murals. As President Nelson said, they will remain in place, and we will be doing some cleaning and preservation of them, as we have been doing for many years.”
Bishop Waddell said the Manti house of the Lord is a “jewel of a temple.” Latter-day Saints “owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to determined pioneers who settled in this area and who had to battle rattlesnakes for possession of this valley,” he said. “During the construction of this sacred edifice [in the 1870s and 1880s], some workmen walked the seven miles from Ephraim each Monday morning and back home again Saturday night. In addition to being self-sacrificing, their service was of the highest quality. The work that will now be done will not only honor the Lord but will honor our pioneer forbears whose sacrifice and talent will continue to be on display for generations to come as members of the Church worship in this sacred house of the Lord.”
Elder Duncan said that during the construction of the temples in Ephraim and Manti, volunteers will be invited to serve in either the Cedar City or Payson Utah Temples as needed.