The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is gearing up to dedicate its fifth temple in Idaho.
Officials say the Meridian Idaho Temple is the second largest in the state at just over 67,000 square feet and is just down the road from the area's other temple in Boise. While such close proximity is rare in places outside of Utah, church officials say an additional temple like that in Meridian represents a high concentration of members.
"We see this temple to be significant...the impact with our members will be far reaching," Craig Rowe, coordinator for the Meridian Idaho Temple dedication and events, told BYU-Idaho Radio. "They will have the ability to come in larger numbers in groups...it'll be accessible to them because it will be closer, but as we visit with members about the significance of the LDS temple, they are thrilled to have another opportunity to spend time closer in their own homes and community here at the temple."
While the temple represents a significant step in the growth of the LDS church in the Treasure Valley, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church says the temple also represents what each Latter-day Saint is striving for on a more individual, more spiritual level.
"Everything in this life ultimately leads to the ordinances of the temple, it is the ultimate goal of every else we do," Elder Cook told BYU-Idaho Radio. "Whether it's gathering scattered Israel, whether it's perfecting the saints, whatever it is, the ordinances of the temple are where everything leads to. Nothing could be more important and now we've got them almost all over the world, what a wonderful thing."
And because the building is so special to Latter-day Saints, the Church ensures the building is constructed using only the finest materials and the highest quality in all aspects of the temple. The floors are Egyptian marble, the woodwork is precise and exact and the paintings throughout the temple are either reproductions of well-known LDS artwork or originals from artists both locally and across the world.
One of those artists lives in Rexburg and used to teach art at BYU-Idaho. He was commissioned to complete two original pieces just for the Meridian Temple.
"Albin Velselka [was] a BYU-Idaho art instructor," Thomas E. Coburn, Managing Director of the Temple Department for the Church told BYU-Idaho Radio. "He's done many paintings for temples around the world and we particularly are very pleased with his pictorial art of the Savior and the times of the Savior. That is just very cohesive with the Latter-day Saint theology of Christ and those that were with him."
Public tours of the temple begin Saturday, October 21 and continue every day through November 11, with the exception of Sundays. Tours are free to the public, but tickets must be reserved in advance. You can reserve tickets and find out more information here.
President Dieter F. Utchdorf, the Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, will dedicate the temple on November 19, following a cultural celebration the night before. The services will be broadcast in church buildings across Idaho, taking the place of regular worship services.
You can listen to a summary of the Meridian Idaho Temple open house below.