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Renovated LDS temple set to reopen in Bartlett next month

By Updated: April 19, 2019 12:55 AM CT | Published: April 18, 2019 1:20 PM CT
<strong>An excited young Dean Hubbard runs in front of his father, Chris, and mother, Kristen, after a tour of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Bartlett temple, which recently underwent an extensive renovation.</strong> (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

An excited young Dean Hubbard runs in front of his father, Chris, and mother, Kristen, after a tour of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Bartlett temple, which recently underwent an extensive renovation. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

After a frenzy of construction activity the past month, renovation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple in Bartlett is complete.

Free tours continue through Saturday in advance of the formal rededication ceremony May 5.

The 18-month, multimillion-dollar renovation project consisted of tearing the temple, built in 2000, down to the foundation. Due to high humidity in the Mid-South and because the marble used in the previous design did not breathe well, mold had gotten into the structure.

“We had some extreme challenges,” said Casey Reynolds, project superintendent with Utah-based Westland Construction, citing the cold and snow of early 2018 and the enormous amount of rain over the past year. “But it’s been a great project, and everything came together. It’s been exciting and a real honor to work on a project like this.”

He described completing the final month of work as a “miracle” that required a large workforce and a little help from above.

<strong>Jeff Burross and Tim Peyton of the Bartlett Fire Department stop by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' newly renovated Bartlett temple Wednesday, April 17, 2019.&nbsp;The temple has been open for public tours ahead of its May 5 rededication, after which only church members will be allowed to enter.</strong> (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Jeff Burross and Tim Peyton of the Bartlett Fire Department stop by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' newly renovated Bartlett temple Wednesday, April 17, 2019. The temple has been open for public tours ahead of its May 5 rededication, after which only church members will be allowed to enter. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

With updated building techniques and a protective membrane now covering the shell of the building, Reynolds said there is no chance of moisture getting in now.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 163 active temples in 67 countries worldwide with more than 30,000 congregations. The number of temples has grown dramatically over the past 20 years.

With temple projects presently under construction or announced, the number of temples will grow to more than 200 in the coming years.

“We started building this smaller model about 20 years ago, so we can literally put more all over the world,” said Richard Floyd, the church’s director of public affairs. “They’re all a little bit different, and when they design and build the temples, they use a little bit of the local environment to represent the uniqueness of that area.”

One local touch seen in numerous places of the newly built temple is the papaw tree, found in the sculpting and stained glass on the outside of the building, as well as the carpeting inside.

The wood-and-steel frame structure features beige Portuguese limestone, replacing the problematic Vermont marble of the previous design. Some of the stones weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. The steeple was raised 10 feet from the previous design.

“Our next closest temple to here is Nashville, so if we were to attend our temple we had to travel there, to Birmingham, north to St. Louis or west to Dallas,” church member Angie Hill said.

The new temple in Bartlett will serve LDS members from Little Rock and Tupelo. Church members prepare for a year before they go to temple.

Latter-day Saints temples are separate from the meetinghouses or chapels where members meet for Sunday worship services. The temples are considered “houses of the Lord where Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ordinances that unite families for eternity."

Special ornate rooms inside the temple are designed for each ceremony, while other rooms are designated for making covenants and sealing ties with past and current family members.

The baptistry room, used exclusively for baptizing deceased ancestors (the living are baptized in the meetinghouses and chapels), is meant to replicate the basin of water mounted on the backs of 12 oxen (representing the 12 tribes of Israel) from King Solomon’s temple described in the Bible.

“This ordinance is only found in the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which makes it very special and unique,” Floyd said.

Other temples being renovated that had similar issues to Bartlett include those in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“Each temple is a beacon of life and hope,” church President Russell M. Nelson says in a video presented during the public tours. 

More than 2,000 people turned out for a recent temple tour in the rain, and several thousand more have toured this week.

The rededication ceremony May 5 is by invitation only, and only church members in good standing may enter the temple after it is dedicated. 

Topics

Bartlett Latter-Day Saints
Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian with more than 20 years of professional writing and editorial experience, working most recently with The Daily News and High Ground News.


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