Saratoga Springs Utah Temple Site Is a “Miracle” for Latter-day Saints

Contributed By Sydney Walker, Church News staff writer

  • 21 October 2019

Dirt is tossed during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah

While visiting the site for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple about a month before the groundbreaking service, Elder Craig C. Christensen walked around the perimeter to “absorb” the setting with views of Mount Timpanogos and overlooking Utah Lake and the Utah Valley.

He could picture construction of the temple over the coming months. He imagined the stained-glass windows, the roof lines, and the steeple with the Angel Moroni statue. He thought of the people in the area whose lives would be marked by the temple’s progress and the conversations that would take place in the community.

Then something more important occurred, Elder Christensen said during the groundbreaking as he recounted the experience. His mind reflected on the sacred ordinances that would take place inside the temple.

“I realized in a more profound way how this particular temple will bless many individuals and families, including your children, your marriages, your families, and especially your ancestors,” he said. “This temple will become central to God’s plan of happiness for each of you.”

Elder Christensen, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Utah Area, presided over the groundbreaking of the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on October 19 and offered the dedicatory prayer on the temple site. His counselors, Elder Randy D. Funk and Elder Walter F. González, also attended. Musical numbers were performed by a choir of members from stakes in the Saratoga Springs area.

An estimated 1,500 people braved the breezy, overcast autumn morning to witness the groundbreaking. Community and business leaders joined members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Lehi, American Fork, and Pleasant Grove for the groundbreaking service. The service was also broadcast to stake centers in the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple district.

Chad Wilkinson, chairman of the groundbreaking committee, spoke during the service about the growth in the Saratoga Springs area over the last two decades. He referenced a visit from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a late member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who said the Lord would bring people to this area.

“At one point all of Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain pertained to the Lehi Utah South Stake. Today, 16 stakes reside in those same boundaries, with surely more to come,” Wilkinson said.

Elder Randy D. Funk and his wife, Andrea, Elder Craig C. Christensen, President of the Utah Area, and his wife, Debbie, hold shovelfuls of dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Elder Craig C. Christensen, President of the Utah Area, speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Elder Gonzalez challenged members to have a “groundbreaking” in their hearts and build their lives “panel upon panel, brick upon brick” to become better covenant keepers. He closed his message by bearing his testimony in Spanish and English.

Sister Debbie Christensen, Elder Christensen’s wife, encouraged members to pray, serve, and “be made holy through Jesus Christ and His temple” to prepare for the temple in Saratoga Springs.

“Let us prepare our hearts spiritually first so that when it physically is here, we will be ready to enter His holy house in this part of the vineyard,” she said.

During the dedicatory prayer on the temple site, Elder Christensen asked for blessings upon the community and said, “May our children and youth be drawn to this sacred site and recognize through Thy spirit that this is truly a special, even holy, gathering place.”

David Durfey, a member of a local stake presidency and former patriarch who has lived in the area for 13 years, said he believes the faith of the youths in Saratoga Springs is one of the reasons the temple is being built.

“This is a really young area. There are so many children, youth, and teenagers. I think it’s because of who they are and because of their faith and what they need in order to grow up unto the Lord,” he said. “There will be so many temple marriages in this house. It will be amazing.”

President Durfey also commented on the growth of the area. “When I grew up about 5 miles east of here, there was nothing out here. Just dry farms, sagebrush, and jackrabbits,” he said with a laugh. “So to think there is a temple here is just unbelievable. It’s amazing. It’s a miracle, really.”

When Saratoga Springs Mayor Jim Miller was elected as a City Council member 10 years ago, the city had about 18,000 residents. Now, the population has more than doubled, he said.

“We’re a fast-growing area,” he said. “We’ve watched it grow from houses to schools to commercial and business parks.”

Mayor Miller said the temple in his city “has been a long time coming” and he is impressed with the site that was chosen.

“We’ve had a chance to work with the Church’s Temple Department to design it and we’re really pleased with it,” he said. “We’re grateful for the effort they are putting in to make it look nice and blend in with the community.”

Another longtime Saratoga Springs resident, Jennifer Raventos, said she and her family are excited to watch the construction from their backyard. “It’s going to be so close. For my kids it will be so great,” she said. “And the site is beautiful. When you’re actually standing up here, it’s an amazing view.”

The Saratoga Springs Utah Temple was announced in April 2017 by then-Church President Thomas S. Monson. The three-story temple of approximately 87,000 square feet will be at 897 S. Ensign Drive, west of Redwood Road in the new Beacon Pointe subdivision. An adjacent meetinghouse of 21,000 square feet will also be built on the 22.7-acre site.

Utah currently has 17 operating temples. In addition to Saratoga Springs, new temples have been announced for Layton, Tooele Valley, Washington County, Orem, and Taylorsville.

Latter-day Saints look at a depiction of the future Saratoga Springs Utah Temple during the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Dirt is tossed during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Sisters Aubrey and Lauren Kenney of Eagle Mountain throw dirt during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Carmmen Espinoza of Provo and her granddaughter, Sara Rojas, 8, of Lehi, Utah, during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Latter-day Saints pray during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Attendees hug for warmth, as encouraged by Elder Craig C. Christensen, speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Latter-day Saints leave the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Latter-day Saints leave the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saratoga Springs Utah Temple on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.