Updated: Oct 9
Most of you know that the iconic St George Temple has been closed for renovation for the past 4 years. Prior to it's re-opening, the church reached out to the leadership of Pride of Southern Utah, of which I am part, to offer a VIP tour of the newly remodeled building. The tour was conducted by two church leaders who were both sons of prominent church leaders and brought up a lot of feelings that I will share in another post. In the meantime, I thought I would offer a glimpse into what has changed.
(Disclaimer: These are not my pictures but church publicity photos of the temple before and after the renovation.)
Most notable is the exterior. An entirely new annex was constructed which serves as the main entrance. A beautiful new fountain was also added to accent the front side of the building.
The first stop on the tour was the baptistry on the lower level: We learned that the font and the oxen on which it stands are original fixtures from 1877. (Before left, after right.)
We stopped to see the bride's room (which sadly, I had never been in before) and were then led up the stairs on the back side of the building. I thought as I climbed that this was the most beautiful "fire escape" I had ever seen.
Ascending to the 4th floor we passed through the solemn assembly room which had been previously unused due to a sagging floor. It's one of only six temples that have such a room and hopefully it will now see more use. (Before left, after,right)
Perhaps the most striking change was in the ordinance rooms where the artwork on the walls and the beautiful light fixtures added a feeling of elegance. (Before left, after,right)
Then came the Celestial room, considered to be the most sacred space in the temple! Most notable here was the removal of a wall and the inclusion of clear glass in the windows to let in more natural light. (Before left, after right)
Finally, we ended the tour in one of the sealing rooms. A significant number of St George locals have been married here. (Before left, after right)
We had a brief testimony meeting at the conclusion of the tour and it felt good to be able to share some of the complex feelings I have about this place.
I felt like the church did an excellent job of modernizing the temple while staying true to it's pioneer heritage. I can't help but wonder if this could also be a metaphor for church doctrine. Especially when it comes to how the church treats members like me who are part of the LGBT community.
The temple will be open to the public for free tours until November 11, 2023. If you are in the area and have the chance, I encourage you to see it. And if not, at least you now have an idea what it's about.
Till next time,