Star Valley Wyoming Temple
Latter-day Saints in the state of Wyoming will now enjoy worship and work at their own Mormon Temple. The announcement of the construction of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple was made at the 181st Semi-Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 1 October 2011. President and Prophet of the Church, Thomas S. Monson, made the announcement. In his remarks, he joked, "I think I'll dedicate that one. There's good fishing up there!"
President Michael Allred of the Thayne Wyoming Stake commented, "I think it is important to note that this temple will not just be for members of our faith. This is for all residents of Star Valley and it will be a blessing to this area.
The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, Rexburg Idaho Temple, Twin Falls Idaho Temple, and the Boise Idaho Temple previously serviced Wyoming’s 63,000 Church members. The Star Valley Wyoming Temple is the first in Wyoming and will serve members living in the western part of the state, who now travel approximately 1.5 hours to Idaho Falls and Rexburg, Idaho, for temple services. The journey to the Rexburg Temple from Wyoming was considerably difficult on rural roads with severe winter conditions.
The Star Valley Wyoming Temple is anticipated to serve members from the following six stakes: Afton Wyoming Stake, Kemmerer Wyoming Stake, Montpelier Idaho Stake, Montpelier Idaho South Stake, Soda Springs Idaho Stake, and Thayne Wyoming Stake. A final determination will be made before the temple is dedicated.
On 25 May 2012, the Church officially announced the location of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple as east of U.S. Highway 89 on the Haderlie Farm property in the town of Afton, south of Star Valley Medical Center, and north of the Star Valley View Golf Course. The Mayor of Afton, Loni Hillyard, said members are "elated at the prospects of a temple in our valley." She believes that the temple "will have a positive effect on [the] entire community." Local Church spokesman Jerry Hansen said, "We truly believe this new temple will be a great asset not only to members of the Church but also to the people of the surrounding community, who will benefit from the peace and beauty a temple brings."
On 30 April 2012, Star Valley Independent reported that a letter from the Presiding Bishop to Mayor Hillyard had earlier confirmed the location of the temple. The letter proposed development of a portion of the site to construct a temple and requested a variance to the building height restriction of the zoning ordinance to accommodate a spire. "The actual temple is not too tall, it will just be the steeple," Mayor Hillyard said. "Our flight path maximum is 45 feet so they are going through this variance process. I do not anticipate a problem. It is so far up the hill away from the airport I don't think it will be an issue."
According to LDS Church Temples, the Star Valley Wyoming Temple was prophesied by Elder Moses Thatcher of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Thatcher first came to the valley in the late 1870s looking for a suitable location where colonizing Latter-day Saints could settle. Looking over the beautiful valley, he declared, "I hereby name this valley, Star Valley, because it is the star of all valleys." He later returned with Elder Charles C. Rich, a senior apostle, to dedicate the valley as a Mormon settlement.
On 3 July 1894, Church officer, George Goddard, gave a report on his travels to Star Valley, as recorded in the Deseret Weekly. He referenced a prophesy given by Elder Moses Thatcher in his description of the temple bench:
- A fine tract of bench land on the eastern portion of Afton will afford a beautiful site for a Temple hereafter to be built, as per prophesy of Elder Moses Thatcher. This bench lies at the mouth of Swift Creek canyon, from whence flows a large stream of pure water, flanked on either side by a park of beautiful swamp pines, many of which are more than 100 feet high.
History of the Church in Wyoming
The history of the Church in Wyoming is rich and interesting. Mormon pioneers traveled westward through the state first in 1847, following the Oregon Trail to Fort Bridger. The first party of travelers stopped at Fort Laramie to repair their wagons. They used rafts to ferry themselves across the Platte River, and nine men stayed behind to continue working what became a profitable ferry.
Most traveling parties made it through Wyoming without trouble, but the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies of 1857 got trapped there in winter snowstorms. Of the 1,075 people in those companies, roughly 200 tragically perished before the rest were rescued by Saints from Utah settlements. Today, three monuments stand in memory of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies and a memorial site, dedicated by former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, rests at the mouth of Sweetwater Canyon where 21 Saints died in a single night.
The first Mormons of record arrived in Star Valley from England in 1858 to labor on the Lander Cutoff. By 1870, Church cattle were pastured in the valley. Church members settled in the Star Valley area in 1877 and then Church President, Brigham Young, dedicated it as a gathering place for Latter-day Saints the following year. In 1879, a directive was issued to colonize the Salt River Valley—renamed Star Valley the next year. Members were first organized into a branch of the Bear Lake Stake. In 1892, the Star Valley Stake was organized with 7 wards. The 140-foot Star Valley Tabernacle, which still stands in Afton, was dedicated on 15 August 1909, by President Joseph F. Smith. There are now two stakes of the Church in Star Valley - the Afton Wyoming Stake and the Thayne Wyoming Stake. These stakes currently belong to the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple District.
On 14-15 August 2009, the centennial celebration of the dedication of the Star Valley Tabernacle was held, beginning with 100 rings of a pioneer church bell and the shot of a cannon. A 70-voice Star Valley Tabernacle Choir initiated the celebration with a concert featuring special guest Tom Osmond, whose great-grandfather, George Osmond, Jr., was the first President of the original Star Valley Stake. An organ solo was also performed on a pipe organ acquired from the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple in 1987. Saturday began with a 10-mile bike-a-thon from the tabernacle stone quarry to the tabernacle. Other activities included a ceremonial flag-raising, patriotic concert by a Centennial Brass Band, and numerous indoor and outdoor festivities. A display in the tabernacle featured historic photographs, tools used in construction, and a video of historical and modern views of the tabernacle. The celebration ended with the unveiling of artifacts from a time capsule that had recently been discovered in the tower cornerstone.
The groundbreaking services for the Star valley Wyoming Temple took place on Saturday, 25 April 2015. Thousands of Church members and friends gathered to the site to witness the event. Many more joined by satellite and Internet transmissions. Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy presided. He was accompanied by Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department. Several community and civic leaders also attended. Construction of the temple is expected to last approximately two years.
Elder Christensen remarked, "There couldn't be a more appropriate place for a house of God. The temple is a gift of God. It is to the great heritage that is here... It links generations together. The temple will become a landmark, a sacred place for this valley for years to come.” Elder Richards further commented, "[The temple] isn't a monument to the past; it is a new beginning. It is a beginning of faith and courage of your generation and your children and your future. Everything we do is to prepare ourselves for the temple."
Placement of Moroni for Star Valley Wyoming Temple
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced that the placement of the Angel Moroni on the Star Valley Temple will take place at 11 a.m. on Monday, 25 April 2016. The temple grounds and construction site will not be open to the public.
The placement of the angel Moroni will take place exactly one year from the groundbreaking which took place on 25 April 2015. Although not required, this iconic symbol of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands high atop most of the 150 operating temples worldwide.
Open House, Cultural Celebration, and Temple Dedication Dates Announced
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced that a public open house for the Star Valley Wyoming Temple will be conducted from Friday, 23 September to Saturday, 8 October 2016. The open house will be held every day except Sundays and the evenings of September 24 and 25 and October 1 and 2, 2016.
According to Kirk Dana, Star Valley Temple Public Affairs Director, tickets for the public open house became available Wednesday, 17 August 2016. A total of 15 tickets can be ordered online by clicking here. Those needing tickets for larger groups are asked to call 1-855-573-2000.
A cultural celebration will be held before the temple dedication, on Saturday, 29 October 2016.
The Star Valley Wyoming Temple will be dedicated on Sunday, 30 October in 3 sessions - at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. - and it will be broadcast to meetinghouses in all Church stakes and districts over much of Wyoming. It will be the first LDS temple in the state of Wyoming.