“Vernal Utah Temple Dedicated,” Ensign, Jan. 1998, 78
On Sunday, 2 November 1997, President Gordon B. Hinckley presided over the first of 11 dedicatory sessions for the newly completed Vernal Utah Temple, the Church’s first temple to be built incorporating an existing structure, in this case the historic Uintah Stake Tabernacle. The Vernal temple is the 10th temple in Utah, the 51st operating temple worldwide, and the 26th temple that President Hinckley has dedicated.
Before the first dedicatory session, President Hinckley and other Church leaders participated in a cornerstone ceremony with tools originally used to build other historic tabernacles in Utah. “We had a large choir from surrounding stakes singing at the cornerstone ceremony,” said Vern Osmond, president of the Roosevelt Utah West Stake and temple publicity chairman. “President Hinckley invited some children to participate, and then anybody that wanted to after that. It was such a calm, beautiful morning—a little cold, but just right.”
The dedicatory prayer offered Sunday morning by President Hinckley was repeated at subsequent sessions that day and on Monday and Tuesday, 3 and 4 November. Dedicatory proceedings were viewed via closed-circuit television by congregations gathered in four nearby meetinghouses. “I attended two sessions on Sunday, one in the stake center and one in the celestial room,” said President Osmond. “I just felt an overwhelming spirit in both places.”
The new temple was shown to the public during an open house held 11–25 October, during which nearly 120,000 people toured the building after viewing an introductory video and walking through an exhibit. “Everyone that I’ve talked to has just felt a really comfortable feeling, a feeling of peace and excitement to see what has taken place in that building,” said President Osmond. “We’ve had quite a few members of other faiths [come to the temple], and they’ve been very complimentary of the way the Church has put together this building.”
On Sunday, 25 August 1907, at a stake conference in which the Uintah Stake Tabernacle was dedicated, President Joseph F. Smith said he “would not be surprised if the day would come when a temple would be built in your midst here.”
Announced in February 1994 with construction commencing in May 1995, the Vernal temple serves more than 42,000 Church members in eastern Utah, western Colorado, and southwestern Wyoming. Alva C. Snow serves as temple president, and his wife, Jean Olsen Snow, serves as matron.
“We’ll see a lot of increased peace and comfort in people’s lives because it’s right here—we’re in the shadows of the temple,” said President Osmond.