The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mormon Temples

Monticello Utah

Monticello Utah Temple 

With an exterior finish of off-white Turkish marble, the Monticello Utah Temple stands out against the backdrop of the Abajo Mountains. The building is the 53rd operating temple constructed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the 11th built in Utah. Patrons from southeastern Utah and Colorado come to the temple to worship God and learn about Jesus Christ.

Monticello is nearly 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, in Utah’s southeastern corner. This community started in the 1880s when pioneers settled the area. Today Monticello is the seat of San Juan County and hosts a population of almost 2,000. Although Monticello is small, it is home to one of the Church’s sacred houses of worship.

Situated a few blocks west of US 191, the Monticello Utah Temple sits on 1.33 acres donated by Ernest and Paul Sonderegger. An adjacent Mormon meetinghouse shares a parking lot with the temple. The temple contains sealing rooms, where a man and a woman can be married for eternity. It also contains a baptistry, instruction rooms and a celestial room, which represents heaven on earth and points to eternal life with God.

Temple worship is a vital part of Latter-day Saint religious life. However, the opportunity to worship in the temple has not always been readily available to Church members in more remote areas. Since the late 1990s, the rate of temple construction has accelerated, and increasing numbers of Church members are able to visit temples locally.

The number of temples built worldwide grew exponentially during President Gordon B. Hinckley’s time as Church president. Temple construction sped up even more with an inspired innovation. In the late 1990s, President Hinckley traveled the globe meeting with Church members, and he wondered how the Church could better serve the many Latter-day Saints who sacrificed so much to worship in temples.

After visiting members of the Church in Mexico, a temple design that was smaller in scale than previous temple designs came to him. The new design significantly reduced the temples’ square footage by eliminating facilities sometimes included in larger temples, such as cafeterias for patrons. During the Church’s October 1997 general conference (a semiannual gathering where Church leaders address members all over the world), President Hinckley presented the idea of building small-scale temples. The temple in Monticello was announced during this conference on October 4.

Church members grasped the vision for new temples upon hearing another announcement six months later in the Church’s April 1998 general conference. President Hinckley stated that the Church aimed to have 100 temples in operation by the year 2000 using the small-scale design. At that point, the Church operated a total of 51 temples, while another 17 were in progress. In the next two years, the Church completed those temples (including the Monticello Utah Temple) and 34 additional temples throughout the world. One hundred and two temples were complete by the end of 2000.

President Hinckley offered heartfelt words preceding his April 1998 announcement: “I have been with many who have very little of this world’s goods. … They make tremendous sacrifices to visit the temples. They travel for days at a time in cheap buses and on old boats. They save their money and do without to make it all possible. They need nearby temples — small, beautiful, serviceable temples.”1 

The Monticello Utah Temple was the first of the small-scale temples to be completed. After the groundbreaking on November 17, 1997, the building took just eight months to construct, and in its original state, it was the smallest temple in the Church with only 7,000 square feet. President Hinckley dedicated the temple on July 26 and 27, 1998, following a public open house between July 16 and 18, 1998.

The Monticello Utah Temple originally had one sealing room and one instruction room. The amount of temple attendance showed that the temple needed to be expanded, and the temple underwent a renovation, which resulted in another instruction room and sealing room being added to the temple. The finished temple had 11,225 square feet. After the renovation, another public open house took place from November 2 to 9, 2002, and President Hinckley rededicated the temple in one session on November 17, 2002.

The angel Moroni statue, a distinctive feature of many Mormon temples, required some modifications also. The first angel Moroni statue on the temple spire was made of fiberglass covered in white paint. In order to make the statue stand out on cloudy days, it was replaced by a taller, gold-leafed angel Moroni. The original statue had gold leafing added to it and was installed atop the Columbus Ohio Temple.

In the 1998 dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley noted the new era in temple construction, acknowledging God for blessing the Church “with the means to erect many more temples, smaller in size, but complete in their necessary appointments.” He continued, saying, “These will be convenient to Thy faithful Saints and will meet the needs of Thy growing Church throughout the world. This is the first of a new generation of such structures.”2 

More than 140 temples throughout the world bless the lives of Latter-day Saints, and even more temples have been announced or are in the process of being constructed.

Gordon B. Hinckley, “New Temples to Provide ‘Crowning Blessings’ of the Gospel,” Ensign, May 1998, 87–88.

Monticello Utah Temple dedicatory prayer, in Church News, Aug. 1, 1998, http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/30690/Monticello-Utah-Temple-Crowning-jewel-to-labors-of-the-past.html.

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