The new Pocatello Temple will go down in history as being one of the few to have an apostle oversee its media open house.
On Monday, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Apostle Elder Gary E. Stevenson conducted the open house, visiting with various members of the media and guiding them through the temple.
The opportunity to do so was especially poignant for Stevenson and his wife, Lesa, as the couple has ties to the community. Elder Stevenson agreed to conduct the meeting without hesitation.
“This assignment comes from President Nelson who has a great love for the members of the church. I gladly accepted it,” he said.
Stevenson guided the media through the temple on Monday where he pointed out its unique architecture.
“The Pocatello Temple you will see is beautifully designed in a restrained classical architecture. The design team has been working on this since it was announced. You’ll notice there are design cues that come from other temples of the church,” Stevenson said. “They did an extensive study of local historical architecture that you’ll find here in the city. Both the interior and exterior art and other design elements include botanical and environmental elements from the temple district.”
Numerous paintings of Jesus Christ are placed throughout the temple. There is also a painting of pioneer Mary Fielding Smith, wife of Hyrum Smith, and her son Joseph F. Smith standing next to a covered wagon. On the other side of the wagon appears to be an army of guardian angels protecting the young family.
There are also paintings depicting Inkom’s mountains and waterways. One painting shows elk running through a forest. Ken Spencer’s “Haystack Mountain” as well as “Mink Creek” and “Scout Mountain Vista” by Ken Stockton are displayed.
Interior materials come from everywhere from Pakistan to Israel to Ogden, Utah.
“The celestial and sealing room marble is called ‘crema ell’ and is quarried in Turkey,” said the Church in a press release.
In the Temple’s chapel, there is an historic stained glass “tri-part” depiction of the savior with sheep.
“It was salvaged from a church in the eastern United States and has been restored,” it said.
Idaho’s famous Indian Paintbrush flowers are also a part of the decorative paintings.
“You’ll see a lot of the other botanicals like the Bitterroot and the Indian Paint Brush (in the) color palette. That would include the colors of sage and the coral that you’ll see in those aforementioned flowers,” he said.
Yet, the primary aspect of the temple is that of honoring God, Stevenson said.
“The most important to us is the sacred worship that happens inside,” he said.
The temples provide a place for active Latter-day Saints to be married. It’s also a place to do proxy work for their ancestors as well as a place to receive personal revelation, Stevenson said.
“Worship in the temple is considered sacred and holy. In the temple, we make promises or covenants. Those covenants would include things like obedience to the Lord’s commandments, selflessness, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, living a virtuous life, being faithful to our families and spouses. (It’s) dedicating ourselves to the Lord,” he said.
Various Latter-day Saints from local wards helped take the media to the Temple. Pocatello’s Joe Willis drove a golf cart or “Temple shuttle cart” giving reporters a ride on Monday. On Friday he gave young single adults a tour of the temple.
Willis said he was thrilled that a temple had finally come to Pocatello.
“It’s wonderful,” he said.
Jennifer Dye and Jenny Mitton helped reporters cover their shoes as they walked into the temple.
“I’m glad that people can come and hear about what happens (in the temple), and why we have a temple. I’m excited to have a temple,” Mitton said.
“I’m just glad they can see this wonderful place and feel the love of Heavenly Father,” Dye said.
Marilyn Westenskow said that she’s delighted to finally have a temple in Pocatello. She recalled how her parents had always hoped for a temple here.
“It’s so beautiful, and, hopefully, it will be unifying for everyone — of whatever persuasion — in the community,” she said.
There are currently around 200 temples in the world. Of those, 170 are operating while others are under construction. The Pocatello Temple is more than 71,000 square feet. There are around 61,000 Latter-day Saints in the Pocatello region.
Plans call to open the temple to the public from Saturday, Sept. 18 through Sat. Oct. 23, excluding Sundays. Tours will run daily from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and again from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For more tickets visit pocatellotemple.org