The Cedar City Temple, sprinklers, SUU and other cool stuff from a one-day road trip

On Monday, Oct. 23, I had the good fortunate to road trip to Cedar City with my friend, colleague and mentor (I have lots of mentors), Jason Swensen of the LDS Church News.

Our purpose in going down was to cover the media tour of the Cedar City Temple. We left from the Swensen home in South Jordan around 5:30 a.m. and made good time, arriving in Cedar City a little after 9 a.m.

The Cedar City Temple is a tribute to the faith and sacrifices of pioneers who settled the area as well as members today in southern Utah.

The Cedar City Temple is a beautiful temple and a sweet tribute to the pioneer heritage of that region, as well as the faith and sacrifice of members in southern Utah.

A view of the valley from the hill and location of the new Cedar City Temple.

Elder Larry Y. Wilson, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the LDS Church Temple Department, led a great tour.

Elder Larry Y. Wilson, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the LDS Church Temple Department.

I have attended temple media tours before (Ogden, Provo City), and those were good, but this one was a little different. The tour felt less rushed and Elder Wilson did a superb job pointing out the architectural design, decor, and artwork, as well as the purpose of different rooms and why they are significant to church members. He is a great teacher and even as a lifelong church member, I learned things I didn’t know. The interior reminded me a little of the Brigham City Temple.

The west and east entrances of the Cedar City Temple each have historic stained glass art depicting the Savior.

During the tour, two local church members participating in the temple open house activities saw my name tag and recognized it from reading my articles. They were kind to say they liked my work. That’s the best compliment a journalist can receive.

A highlight of the tour came in the sealing room, where Elder Wilson recalled being sealed to his parents and sisters in the Idaho Falls Temple. I noticed several of the reporters were visibly touched.

The Cedar City Temple sealing room.

“It gave me a sense of eternal belonging. … The sealing room is a place that has deep personal meaning for me,” Elder Wilson said. “That is one of the most precious memories I have from an earlier time in my life and really one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had.”

Another memorable moment, on the humorous side, came after the tour as Elder Wilson spoke to reporters outside the temple. With the TV cameras rolling, Elder Wilson was standing next to an area where the sprinklers turned on. The cold wind was blowing and water was sprayed on him, yet he continued to answer questions. Finally the TV guys could see him getting soaked and called halt. We all had a good laugh and admired Elder Wilson for being tough through it all.

Elder Wilson shortly before the sprinklers turned on.

When Jason and I spoke to Elder Wilson, Jason asked a great question — how this temple would forever change the community? Elder Wilson said the temple would not only serve as a landmark but would it become a powerful symbol. What he said next really inspired me, so if you take nothing else from this, consider these words:

“This temple forever changes (Cedar City),” he said. “It become a symbol that there is a House of God — a place more holy than any other — in this community. Every time you drive by (the temple) you can’t help but be inspired by the beauty of it, to have your thoughts drawn towards God and his purposes for this earth and for your life. Whether you are a member of the church or not, you can’t help but respond to that kind of beauty.”

Other insightful statements from Elder Wilson on the tour:

  • “Everything in the temple centers on Jesus Christ.”
  • “Striving to become a better person is what the temple is all about.”
  • “It’s a sanctified refuge … to discover personal revelation and guidance.”

Afterwards, Jason and I needed to find a place to file our stories. I suggested we try Southern Utah University. We found the campus almost abandoned with students on fall break. We parked and walked into the student center. An employee kindly gave us the wifi password. As we typed, a guy passing by asked if we were grad students working overtime on a master’s thesis? We joked with him but told him why we were really there. It was cool to feel like college students again.

You can read my article by clicking here.

Read Jason’s article here.

We stopped in Fillmore for greasy hamburgers and salty fries and had a smooth trip back to Salt Lake City. From there I continued on to good old Box Elder County. It was a long trip, but a good trip. If you get a chance to attend the open house, I highly recommend it.

The Cedar City Temple will be dedicated Dec. 10.

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Trent Toone

My name is Trent Toone and I’m a journalist for the Deseret News, where I write for a variety of feature sections. I was raised in Northern Utah and graduated from the University of Utah in 2003. Since then I have worked for several newspapers and received various awards over my journalism career. I am the author of “No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story,” the sports biography of San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle. I served an LDS mission to Santiago, Chile, and spent a year teaching seminary. Like my father before me, I am a proud Eagle Scout. My wife Lisa and I have four children and live in Northern Utah. Feel free to contact me by emailing to trent.b.toone (at) gmail (dot) com.

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2 Responses

  1. Great post, Trent! A beautiful temple for sure, and a great tour experience 🙂

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