Putting a bright orange vest over his suit coat and wearing a hard hat, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, got an up-close look at the construction that is transforming the ruins of the Provo Tabernacle into the Provo City Center Temple.
“Though it’s still a construction site, you can already feel the beauty of the completed temple,” he said. “I am looking forward to when it will be dedicated and used by the many young people and Church members of all walks of life who will go to the temple right there in the heart of the city. It’s wonderful to see that even though the tabernacle burned down it is coming back more beautiful than ever before.”
The tabernacle was gutted by fire that broke out on Dec. 17, 2010. During the October 2011 general conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced plans to reconstruct the edifice as a temple, later named as the Provo City Center Temple.
President Uchtdorf visited the temple site on Aug. 21. He and Andy Kirby, project manager, climbed scaffolding surrounding the temple.
“I saw on the walls some of the stones colored by the fire. I felt sad that the tabernacle burned down, but it is rising like the phoenix from the ashes and will bring about something much greater.
“I had the privilege of speaking at stake conferences in the Provo Tabernacle and was able to meet and sing with the members there. Now, one can see how this edifice has been elevated in preparation for a higher purpose. The tabernacle has blessed the Saints spiritually and temporally. The temple will provide eternal blessings to those living now and to future generations, descendants of those who built the tabernacle.”
President Uchtdorf spoke with admiration of those who built the Provo Tabernacle, which was dedicated in 1898 by Elder George Q. Cannon. He described some of the sandstones and bricks from the original structure that are being reused in the temple’s construction and spoke of the craftsmanship that went into building the tabernacle.
“From the scaffolding around the temple all the way up to the highest level, I could see how the sandstones were put in place. The bricks were mostly made by hand. The slate roof was beautifully done.
“Back then, many who worked on the tabernacle were volunteers. It isn’t like now where we have professional contractors and construction crews. Most were volunteers who went after their regular jobs, fulfilling the hours they committed to render this volunteer service. As you see the stones and the bricks, you can feel how these men and women bent their backs and worked hard, with a heart full of joy, to build a place to worship their God. I’m pleased that even though the tabernacle burned down, something greater is coming out of it. Those who built the tabernacle will be pleased it was not destroyed but has been reborn, in a way, to a higher purpose.”
President Uchtdorf made two trips to Provo during the week. On Aug. 20, he and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, visited the recently remodeled Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, which features wildlife artwork and carvings by President Boyd K. Packer (Please see Church News, June 2, 2014).
Afterward, they met with the BYU football team, where President Uchtdorf offered encouragement to the players and staff and participated in a question/answer period.
On Aug. 21, before visiting the temple site, President and Sister Uchtdorf toured the BYU Broadcasting building. While there, they stopped in at a dress rehearsal for BYU Television’s “Studio C,” and spoke with the cast and crew.
Part of President and Sister Uchtdorf’s visit to Provo was something of a sentimental journey. “When they have BYU Campus Education Week, we like to spend an hour or so on campus and see how things are going,” he said. “Harriet and I and our children participated way back when our children were small. We went to all different kinds of presentations and made friends with people sitting next to us. Sometimes I wish I could go again and just sit in, but it’s kind of difficult now to do that.”
President Uchtdorf said he felt an excitement on the campus. “People were rushing from one event to another, talking and visiting. You could see the sociality. People came together – couples, friends, families. It was just as we remembered it back when we attended. Education Week is a wonderful experience.”