POCATELLO – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Pocatello Temple open house is not just for people of the LDS faithful but also for everyone who lives in the greater Pocatello area.
The Pocatello Temple is a 70,000 square foot edifice sitting on eight acres of land in the city’s northeastern section. It is located at 3100 Butte Street in Pocatello and can be seen throughout the northern portion of the gate city and Chubbuck areas.
Before being dedicated, the Temple is open for the public to preview. The free public open house began last Saturday, September 18, and continues through Saturday, October 23, excluding Sundays during this period and Saturday, October 2.
“This is their Temple,” Elder S. Gifford Nelson, President of the North Central Area, said of the people living in Pocatello. “They do not have to be a member of the Church to think this is our Temple.”
This sentiment has been felt by many who have watched the Temple throughout its construction, since its groundbreaking on March 16, 2019.
“The community seems to be coming together because of the Temple,” Peter Tafelelamer, a local member of the Church, said. “I have talked to a lot of people who are not of my faith who say this is our Temple.”
When dedicated, the Pocatello Temple will be the 170th temple built by the Church. It will also be the sixth temple constructed in Idaho.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attended a special open house tour reserved for the press this past week. He was accompanied by his wife and Elder S. Gifford Nelson, President of the North America Central Area, and his counselors Elder Chi Hong and Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela and their wives. Bruce H. Winegar, who recently was called as the new Temple President, also joined the entourage.
Elder Stevenson empathized that the Temple is an important sacred place of worship once it is dedicated.
“On the building is inscribed the House of the Lord, which literally means the ‘House of the Lord,'” Stevenson said. “The inscription of Holiness to the Lord is an invitation to everyone who attends the temple, and all of those that surround the temple, to live their lives in a way that is holy.”
Elder Stevenson continued that the world is so divisive and has so many challenges that this standard, as with other houses of worship, makes people better. It makes people want to be closer to one another. Such is it with those who attend the Temple; it teaches them to have empathy and to care for and love their families and all humanity.
The tour of the Temple began in the bride’s room off of the women’s dressing room. It then moved to a chapel where patrons wait before performing an ordinance session.
Next, the tour entered the baptistry where a font of water rested upon the back of 12 iron-coated oxen, who represented the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Elder Stevenson explained that the sacred ordinance of baptisms of the dead, often referred to as proxy baptism, represented a loving gift given to our ancestors.
Worthy members of the faith, who are 11 years and older, may perform this ordinance on behalf of their ancestors who have died.
Elder Stevenson said that those living on the other side may accept or reject this baptism made on their behalf. The same applies to the other ordinances done on behalf of those who have passed on. They have the agency to choose whether they want to accept or reject those ordinances.
In this temple, the baptistry is on the same level as the entrance, chapel, and changing rooms rather than on a lower level as it is with some temples.
The second floor of the Temple consisted of four instructional or endowment rooms and the Celestrial Room. Both Elder Stevenson and Elder Nelson explained that the endowment is an instructional ceremony where the principles of Jesus Christ and the atonement are explained, and specific covenants are made to conduct one’s life in accordance with Christ’s teachings.
The tour’s highlight was the Celestrial Room where Elder Stevenson said he would not speak but allow everyone to sit quietly and take in the beauty and serenity of the room.
The final leg of the tour was visiting the sealing rooms on the third level of the Temple. Elder Stevenson explained the process a couple would go through to be sealed at the altar. An emphasis was made on large mirrors on opposite walls in the sealing room. The reflection of these mirrors shows an eternal perspective for one who stood and looked through them.
Public tours of the Temple run from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursday and 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. On weekday mornings and afternoons, guests may begin their tour experience at the Satterfield church building adjacent to the Temple. Each evening and all day Friday and Saturday, guests will be invited to park at a remote building and be taken by bus to the temple sites. For further information, go to pocatellotemple.org.