New Washington County LDS church temple site sees movement

ST. GEORGE — At the corner of 3000 East and 1580 South in St. George, the ground has begun to move.

Rendering of new Washington County Utah Temple | Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Once just a field used for farming, the future site of the Washington County Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is seeing movement as heavy equipment preps the area for construction.

Set over 14-acres, the second temple in Washington County will be three stories tall and approximately 90,000 square feet. The incoming temple was announced by LDS church President Russell M. Nelson in October 2018, with the exact location announced in November 2019.

An artist’s rendering of the future Washington County Temple was released by the church last week.

Prior to being declared a temple site, the church-owned property along 3000 East was used as farmland. Most recently the land was leased by 77-year-old Washington City resident Ralph Staheli, who grew a myriad of crops there, including alfalfa, sudangrass and various grains used to feed his livestock.

In this 2019 file photo, local farmer Ralph Staheli walks across lands he has leased from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the last eight years. The ground was tilled in preparation for one last crop before work would start on the future site of the Washington County Utah Temple, St. George Utah, Nov. 8, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Staheli harvested his last crop on the leased land earlier this year, with the heavy equipment coming in soon after to start moving dirt.

When the Washington County Temple was announced, Daniel K. Frei, president of the church’s Santa Clara Utah Stake, cited the influx of people into the area as one possible reason for the new temple.

“We do have a temple,” Frei said, “but only so much work can be done, and a lot of temple work is being done. We are already at capacity.”

Ralph Atkin of the LDS church’s local communications council said there had been no official word from church headquarters in Salt Lake City about construction beginning on the new temple, nor has a time line been put forth.

Requests for comment from the church’s communications department were not returned by the time of this publication.

Earthwork has begun at the future site of the Washington County Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George, Utah, April 15, 2020 | Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

The area’s first temple closed in November 2019 for renovation and upgrades and is expected to reopen in 2022.

Latter-day Saints consider temples to be the “house of the Lord,” the most sacred places on the Earth. Temples differ from the meeting houses or chapels where all are welcome to attend Sunday worship services. In the temple, according to LDS church descriptions, the teachings of Jesus Christ are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ceremonies that unite families for eternity.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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