LDS members welcome new Cedar City Temple with celebration, dedication

CEDAR CITY  With both celebration and solemnity, thousands of area members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints heralded the official dedication of the Cedar City Utah Temple this weekend.

Cultural celebration

Native American performers await start of Cedar City LDS Temple cultural celebration, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 9, 2017 | Photo Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Saturday evening, an estimated 3,700 youth performers from 106 LDS wards and 14 stakes within the temple district staged a cultural celebration inside the America First Event Center on the Southern Utah University campus.

Inside the packed arena, the young performers, who were between ages of 12 and 18, actually outnumbered the rest of the audience, but thousands more were able to watch the live broadcast feed of the 90-minute event from stake center chapels in the district.

In his welcoming remarks to the youth, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the church’s First Presidency, reminded the youth that they shared similar heroic traits with their pioneer forebears, to whom the program paid tribute. He also encouraged them to write in their journals to preserve the memory of the occasion.

“You’ll never forget this night,” Eyring said. “Years from now, you’ll bring your children back here and you will tell them how you felt as you participated in this great cultural celebration before the dedication of a beautiful temple of God.”

“I bless you that this experience will remain in your memory like a light,” Eyring said, “and it will draw you back to the light of the temple time and time again.”

The Washburn family performs during Cedar City LDS Temple’s cultural celebration, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 9, 2017 | Photo Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

He also reassured the performers not to have any anxiety about their performance. “Don’t worry,” he said, “if you make a mistake or two, we won’t notice, and the Lord will see the desire of your hearts. Just give us your best effort and he will answer your prayers, and mine.”

Following Eyring’s remarks, the beating of Native American drums and the sound of a hammer striking an anvil signaled the beginning of the cultural celebration, as a young female vocalist began to sing, “High on the Mountaintop,” a popular LDS hymn with lyrics written by Joel Hills Johnson, a prominent early church figure who lived for a time in the Cedar City area.

The central theme “A Light On a Hill, Iron In our Will,” was featured during the program, with light, iron and other related thematic elements such as red rock and quilts being repeated throughout.

Michael Bahr, who directed the celebration, noted the program was built around themes central to the area’s pioneer heritage.

“The intention is to connect the youth with the temple,”  Bahr said “We have to tell a story.”

Each of the congregations had practiced their individual numbers repeatedly over the past couple months, before coming together at the arena on Saturday for two full rehearsals, followed by the actual event. Hundreds of adult leaders accompanied the young performers in their charge, helping with transportation, food, costumes and other logistical tasks.

Youth performers during Cedar City LDS Temple’s cultural celebration, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 9, 2017 | Photo Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

In addition to the five LDS stakes within the Cedar City area, those in the cities of Enoch, Beaver, Escalante, Parowan, Minersville and Panguitch were also represented, along with the Nevada stakes in Ely and Panaca.

One group wore bright yellow T-shirts signifying light, while another dressed as miners with helmets and sooty faces. Other dance numbers emphasized the importance of education and genealogy.

The youth of Panguitch and Parowan LDS stakes reenacted the “quilt walk” undertaken by snowbound pioneers, with ballerinas representing the drifting snow.

Toward the end of the program, hundreds of youth dressed as missionaries with white shirts and name tags as they waved various international and state flags.

“The youth are excited, they are cheering for each other. The spirit is strong,” Lisa Allen, a member of the cultural celebration committee, said after the first rehearsal Saturday.

“It’s about the awesomest thing ever,” said Obie Nef, a 16-year-old Cedar City resident who recently came home from the hospital after suffering severe injuries in a car accident a few months ago. Nef who performed from a wheelchair celebrated his birthday Saturday, with the other performers singing “Happy Birthday” to him during the first rehearsal.

Following the program, the performers and audience members alike responded with thunderous applause and plenty of broad smiles all around.

Cornerstone ceremony and dedication

Pres. Henry B. Eyring, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland place sealant during the cornerstone ceremony prior to the dedication of the Cedar City Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 10, 2017 | Photo Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Sunday morning, Eyring, accompanied by Elder Jeffrey R.Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other top church officials and their wives, took turns adding sealant to the edges of the temple’s ceremonial cornerstone, at the beginning of the first of Sunday’s three scheduled dedicatory sessions.

Each 90-minute session featured different speakers and musical numbers, with Eyring delivering the same formal dedicatory prayer at the conclusion of each. Faithful LDS members attended the proceedings inside the temple and also watched via closed circuit television feed broadcast to stake centers within the temple district.

The temple, which will open for regular operations Tuesday, is the 17th LDS temple in Utah and the 159th operating temple worldwide.


  • Official LDS Church video of the Cedar City Temple cultural celebration.
  • LDS Church website information about Cedar City temple, including interior photos.

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