Among recent visitors to Idaho’s newest temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a group of 40 local church members, ages 12 through 18. They walked from the Boise LDS temple on Cole Road in Boise all the way to the new temple 7355 N. Linder Road in Meridian.
The more-than-13-mile trek trip took six-and-a-half hours, said Bishop Mike Fife from the Kuna 4th Ward. The walk, he said, was a metaphor for the young worshippers, reminding them to “keep their eye on the temple” and lead a life that is “morally clean, honest and chaste.”
With stops along the way for gospel instruction, the youths also got to stop at Sonic for slushies for a bit of rejeuvenation. One young walker had hurt her knee and was using a wheelchair. Her fellow walkers traded off to push her. When finally the walkers spotted the new temple, topped by its gold angel Moroni, they got a “last burst of energy,” Fife said.
They also got a surprise temple tour. You can tour the building, too, even if you’re not Mormon. Public tours start Saturday, Oct. 21, and continue through Saturday, Nov. 11. The church wants the public to understand that while temples are sacred places, they are not meant to be secretive places, said Quentin Cook, a member of the church’s Quorum of the 12 Apostles, a senior governing body, during a media tour Monday.
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Church members consider temples houses of God for sacred ceremonies. Regular weekly religious services take place chapels and meeting houses. Anyone can enter an LDS meeting house or chapel, but aside from the times when a temple is open to the public, only church members in good standing who have permission, or “temple recommends,” can enter.
Church officials say they expect between 200,000 and 300,000 people to tour the temple before Church President Thomas S. Monson dedicates it Sunday, Nov. 19. After that, the temple will be closed to non-Mormons. Tour reservations are made here.
During the tours, the public will be allowed into the most sacred areas of the temple, including the rooms where baptisms and marriage ceremonies take place. The public will also be able to visit the Celestial Room. Located on the third floor, the highest floor of the temple, it’s a room for quiet prayer and contemplation, notable for its light colors, high ceiling, massive chandelier and stained glass.
Meridian’s temple is the fifth LDS temple in Idaho. Church leaders expect the Meridian temple to serve about 60,000 Mormons.
Church officials would not say how much the 67,331-square-foot temple cost. They estimate that close to 2,000 craftspeople, most of them local, worked on the project from excavation to the building’s finishing touches, which included painting murals and crafting stained glass windows and woodwork.
Many of the building’s materials, including Egyptian stone and African wood, come from outside the U.S. But artistic elements evoke the southern Idaho landscape. Among the art are murals featuring western mountains; stained glass windows featuring the syringa, Idaho state flower; and a color palette in many parts of the temple of soft browns, blues and ochres.
The state is home to 426,000 church members, about a quarter of the population. A sixth temple is planned in Pocatello. Other temples are in Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Rexburg and Boise. Boise’s temple, built in 1984, was rededicated in 2012 after a public visitation period.
The LDS in Meridian
Members of the church first began settling in the Meridian area in the 1920s and 1930s. Many were farmers attracted to the area’s climate and long growing season, said Cook on Monday. About 40 members held the first organized meeting in 1932. They didn’t have a formal meeting place, so held meetings in the chapel of the local undertaker on East Idaho Street, then later at a dance hall on Second Street and Broadway Avenue.
It was common, Cook said, for church members to have to sweep the floors and clear away beer bottles and cigarette butts left behind by revelers before beginning their service. The church dedicated its first meeting house in Meridian in 1941.
“We’ve come a long way,” Cook said.
Take a tour
Free public open houses will continue through Nov. 11, except for the Sundays of Oct. 22, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5.
The temple is at 7345 N. Linder Road in Meridian.
The temple will be dedicated Sunday, Nov. 19, in three sessions at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. The dedication will be broadcast to church members at meeting houses in Idaho and in the temple district.
A celebration for youths honoring Idaho and church history will take place on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Taco Bell Arena in Boise. The time has yet to be determined, pending the Bronco football schedule.