I remember you could see the corner towers of the old Provo Tabernacle from the side of the hill by the testing center at BYU. I never got to visit the old Provo Tabernacle before it burned down--it burned down right at the end of my first semester. And I wasn’t even in town at the time--I was at my aunt’s house in West Jordan, visiting for a couple of days before I went back home for Christmas. A friend of hers came over to visit, and she told us what had happened.
|Via LDS Magazine|
The annoucement that it was going to be rennovated into a temple the following October was cool, but I was slightly more excited by the fact that a temple had been announced in Paris, France in the same session of conference. But new temples are always exciting, and having one being built so close to where I was living gave me something to look forward too.
Before the construction actually began, the BYU Archaeology department got to do a special excavation of the remains of the first Provo Tabernacle. I was taking an advanced Anthropology course at the time and my professor and my TA got to be a part of it.
Being a BYU student and Provo Resident, I drove through downtown Provo quite a bit while the City Center Temple was under construction, and I was about as amazed as everybody else by seeing the shell of the old tabernacle on stilts.
So in January, FINALLY, the new temple was ready for the open house. And I got to go on a special tour of the Bride’s room and a sealing room that was held for the single sisters in the Provo area. That was really an amazing opportunity. In the middle of February I was able to take the regular tour of the rest of the building. I noticed that for the video presentation instead of the voice-over narrating the history of the temple’s location this time there was a group of people talking about the purpose of the temple.
|Via Deseret News|
The City Center Temple is beautiful. The interior design stays in harmony with the style of the old tabernacle--specifiaclly with the gothic archways on the doors and windows. The art glass is pretty, and I liked the molding on the ceiling of the celestial room. I also liked the square design of some of the hallway furniture.
Don't take what I'm going to say here as fact because it's opinion. As much as I was looking forward to seeing the cultural celebration I was hesitant about what I was about to see. When I was thirteen, the San Antonio temple was dedicated and I got to be a part of that cultural celebration, and it had really elaborate costumes and dance numbers. A year or so ago, I watched the cultural celebration for the Ogden Temple expecting something similar. Instead I walked away sort of creeped out by the lack of choreography and the boring routines performed to religious songs (it’s how I was raised--contemporary pop-style religious music is heresy).
I wasn’t aware that we were supposed to have tickets in advance for the show, but thankfully someone standing near the door had an extra ticket he was willing to share. I had a hard time finding a seat and ended up in the nosebleed section of the southwest corner of the Marriott Center, but then I ended up sitting next to one of my old religion professors and his family. I took that as a good sign.
|Via LDS Living|
So watching the performance was a bit of an ordeal. I was pretty critical of what was going on at first. I sort of liked “Through Heaven’s Eyes” since, of course, it’s from The Prince of Egypt, and the choreography with the scarves was cool. But it was during the “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” that I had my epiphany. Those local kids worked just as hard for this cultural celebration as I did for mine. I had no right to judge them. And “Beauty for Ashes” had a much more different audience and culture than “The Heart of Texas” and the show in Ogden--not to put this in too bad of a light but Texas does have a little more cultural diversity, and much different traditions. After I’d figured that out, I had a much better time. I really liked the dances performed to “Glorious” and the “Give Said the Little Stream” Remix.
The video presentation in between the musical numbers was really good. Not being from Provo, I was glad to learn the story of the old tabernacle and the new temple from the perspective of the people who live here and the people for whom this event is the greatest thing in their lives.
The one part I had a real problem with was the number “Celebration.” It was great until the giant purple ball came out. I get that it was a symbol of unity, but it was still really weird.
|Via Mormon Newsroom|
I was kind of hesitant at first about the second-to-last number with the girls dancing to “Savior, Redeemer of my Soul,” but then I remembered it was one of my favorite hymns. It was actually an amazing number to watch. I liked the effect of all the girls dancing in simple white dresses--it’s probably what heaven looks like. Drawing attention to Christ should be a good thing, for an occasion like someone else’s cultural celebration I shouldn’t be so picky about how it’s done.
I went to the 3 p.m. session of the dedication in the Marriott Center. Like at the cultural celebration, the theme of the tabernacle being rebuilt as a temple from the ashes was used as a metaphor for how Christ can change our lives and how we can be spiritually healed and redeemed even when we think we are beyond hope.
|Via LDS Daily|
The highlight of the whole session, though, was getting to do the Hosanna shout and then the Hosanna Anthem being sung afterward. On the special tour I went on in January I got a handkerchief with the temple embroidered on that, so I got to use that. But of course, it blew my mind that I was doing a Hosanna shout on Palm Sunday.
One of these days, I’m going to walk down University Avenue to the City Center Temple just to see how long it takes to get there. The original Provo Temple is only thirty minutes walking from my house. It’s amazing to be living smack between two temples!