On Monday, local church authorities, community members and media personnel gathered at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church building on Satterfield Dr. in Pocatello, Idaho, to experience the Pocatello Idaho Temple open house and to ask questions.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ led attendees through the first media tour of the temple. During the walk thru, Elder Steveson informed the media that intricate floral details seen in the carpeting, banisters, stain glass, woodwork and ceiling art were inspired by the Idaho state flower, the syringa. The color scheme of pink and sage green was deliberately chosen to mimic the shades of brush and blossoms that are indigenous to the area.
The fine craftsmanship and handiwork of the temple was evident in the attention to detail from the grand windows to the fiberglass railings painted to look like brass.
“One of the things you’ll notice as we walk through the temple is it invites us to come unto Christ,” Elder Stevenson said as he guided the group into a room dedicated for proxy baptisms.
He consistently referenced scripture verses and drew parallels between ancient Christianity and modern practice. He observed that Jesus Christ gave his life to atone for the sins of every person, a task no one can do for themselves. He then acknowledged that Latter-day Saints similarly perform temple ordinance work in temples for those who have died and cannot do the work for themselves.
At the conclusion of the temple tour, media personnel reconvened in the cultural hall of the Satterfield chapel for interviews. Among the people BYU-Idaho Radio interviewed were Elder Gary B. Sabin, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, Idaho local Bill McKee, and Troy Dye, a co-coordinator for the temple open house.
In interviews with BYU-Idaho Radio, these men expressed their feelings and insights about how the temple is affecting the local community in spiritual and social ways. Elder Sabin explained the criterion for building a temple.
“The Temple Department seeks input from area presidencies as far as the number of stakes, the number of members, the distance of travel from one temple to the next,” Elder Sabin said. “The goal is to make it a convenient experience for everyone. I think our goal is to have a temple within two hours of everyone and you see how long it took to have 100 temples and now we’re over 200 that are announced, operating, under construction or being remodeled. That’s just going to accelerate I think, so what it takes is changing.”
Elder Sabin also expressed love for the area and the people in Pocatello, despite having no immediate personal connection to the Gate City. McKee offered a different perspective as a local who has observed the unity and acceptance the temple has fostered between people of various faiths.
“We’ve had a wonderful support from the interfaith leaders for the groundbreaking as well as our dedication,” McKee said. “In our open house this week, we have quite a few ministers and many of the congregation members that are going to come and go through the open house. They’ve just been so loving and so supportive.”
Along with the support from kind interfaith community members, the temple project has moved forward by the hands of children, youth and working professionals who collaborated to complete the temple project. Large groups of youth cleared sage brush from the temple site before construction and young kids made cookies and cards for members of the construction crew after work began.
“One of the fun things with this particular temple is from the beginning we wanted to involve the youth and so we invited all the youth in the area to come,” McKee said.
Youth-guided open house tours were a unique part of this temple opening. McKee gave secondhand witness of several spiritual experiences that resulted because of the building of the temple in the Pocatello community. Dye also spoke largely of community and gave a brief behind-the-scenes explanation on arranging a temple open house.
“When assignments are given from the temple department to work with an open house, they call a couple that is local,” Dye said. “So, my wife and I were called as co-coordinators for the whole event. We’ve been working since February and have had a team with us, an executive team of 11 different sub-committees. The sub-committee over our communications team are the ones who’ve spearheaded this piece and Media Day…We have 24 sub-committee leaders who each have different assignments. We’ve had an opportunity to work with all of them and to work closely with the members of the Temple Department as we’ve progressed through the open house experience.”
The open house provided a great opportunity for people to work together toward a common cause. This collaboration reinforces Elder Stevenson’s observation that temples help people come unto Christ. The organization behind the open house event also helps public tours run smoothly. Tours are open now until October 23. Temple open house tickets are available at pocatellotemple.org.