President Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles rededicated the renovated house of the Lord in his native St. George, Utah, on Sunday, December 10, 2023.
“I’m old enough that I don’t know how many crowning moments I’ll have left, but this is surely a special experience,” said President Holland, who was hospitalized for several weeks earlier this year. “[This opportunity is] unanticipated, not expected, but dearly, deeply appreciated. … This is special to me because it’s the temple I grew up with as a child. And it’s where I was baptized, it’s where I was endowed, it’s where my wife and I were sealed.”
Most important, President Holland said, is that every temple built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a house of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“The temple is an ultimate symbol of our journey along what has in recent years commonly been called the covenant path,” President Holland said. “The absolute universal experience is to feel that you’re in [God’s] presence, to walk where He would walk. We go there to be like Him. We go there to feel what He was and what He would have us be. And that’s why we go to His house.”
This pioneer-era temple closed for extensive renovation in November 2019. This was the second major renovation of this historic structure, which was originally announced by Brigham Young in 1871. Workers replaced the temple’s mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems and strengthened its structural integrity.
This renovation also eliminated design inconsistencies in architectural style that came about in previous renovations. The temple site includes new plazas that improve access to temple entrances and provide gathering spaces for families and friends. The street on the north side of the temple is now a pedestrian plaza with gardens, seating and a water feature. From the east side of the temple, visitors can sit in an additional landscaped plaza and admire the temple’s front façade.
“The landscape around the temple is both waterwise and familiar to patrons who are familiar with the St. George Temple,” said Andy Kirby, director of the Church’s historic temple renovations. “[The grounds have] a park-like feel. We reduced the total amount of lawn area and increased the amount of plant area and used plants that are appropriate for this arid climate. And we planted several areas early so they could mature by the time the temple is open and dedicated. And it’s beautiful. I’m really excited for people to experience the grounds of the St. George Temple.”
Many Latter-day Saints with deep roots in St. George have a strong connection to this 146-year-old house of the Lord.
Elder Steven E. Snow, an emeritus General Authority Seventy, was raised just two blocks north of the temple grounds.
“This has always been a part of our lives,” said Elder Snow, who served as Church Historian and Recorder from 2012 to 2019. “We would always come on a Sunday afternoon, our family, and walk around the temple. I feel a real strong connection personally to this temple. I love it. I believe it’s one of the most beautiful temples in the Church.”
Clinton Milne also grew up close to the St. George Temple. His great-grandfather helped paint it.
“My grandfather worked on the temple, too,” Milne said. “In his older teens he was an apprentice to my great-grandfather. And my father, who grew up here in St. George, he also worked on the temple, so it has a great deal of meaning and is special to me.”
Dana Moody, a great-great-granddaughter of George Brooks, one of the St. George Temple’s original stone carvers, said her connection to this house of the Lord is a fusion of ancestry and faith.
“I feel a connection to my ancestors, not only because they built this building but because we have a shared faith,” Moody said. “In addition to that, they entered this building and they made sacred promises and covenants with God that can’t be done in other places.”
The ceremonies within each temple teach the purpose of life and unite families, past and present. Latter-day Saints promise to keep God’s commandments, support God’s work, live the higher law Christ taught while He was on earth, live chaste lives, and dedicate their lives to building up Christ’s Church.
“We need to try to be outside the temple the way we are inside the temple,” President Holland said. “We need to remember the pledges and the promises and the hopes and the dreams. If we could take those outside the temple, we’d change the world.”