Thursday, December 17, 2015

The final speaker at a funeral is the most important ...

I'VE said this before and I'll say it again -- some of the most incorrect of LDS doctrine is being taught during funerals in LDS Chapels. (That I won't address here, but it is a common practice.)
However, now I've realized that the MOST important of ALL funeral speakers is the final one -- and it is almost always a bishop or stake president (who presides at the meeting) -- and they tend to usually overdo it.
I recently attended an LDS funeral in South Ogden, Utah. It was uplifting and the Holy Spirit was in abundance. That is, for me at least, until the final speaker -- the assigned bishop of the deceased spoke and babbled on for at least 20 minutes.
This bishop somehow felt he had to teach a long sermon and though he kept admitting he hardly knew the deceased, that shortfall didn't keep him from going on and on. 
(The deceased had moved into his ward about a year ago and the bishop had only met him once.)
Thus, a funeral that would have been closer to an hour long was 90 minutes long.
The bishop's overblown sermon left a bad taste in my mouth and he isn't the first bishop or stake president to do that. I've had other similar experiences.
Why can't they just get up for 5 minutes and be done?
Instead of walking out of the funeral excited and uplifted, I had lost most of my zeal. Sure, some of it may be blame on me, but if I were a non-member at that funeral that day, I probably would have not been very impressed.
-At the funeral of one of my full-time missionary companion's uncle, an emeritus general authority was invited to speak. He went for 45 minutes, often repeating himself and causing agony to funeral goers. And, he didn't even know the deceased personally!

NOTE: Bishops and stake presidents -- you don't need to sprout out a long sermon every time you speak -- especially at a funeral. If you know the deceased and can tell some stories about them fine. Yet, if you have no stories, keep it short, sit down and end the funeral, please. Everyone will appreciate it and the funeral will end on a high note.
Instead of everyone remembering how you spoke far too long, or how boring you were, they will still retain their spiritual excitement and you won't be a negative factor.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

The detailed story of the old and new Ogden LDS Temples

                                     New Ogden Temple.

By Lynn Arave

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

TODAY Ogden has a new stately-looking temple that replaced its original temple that didn't really look that much like a traditional temple (and was just 39 years old when it was torn down .... and dramatically remodeled).
The current Ogden Temple really stands out now, especially from the top of Washington Boulevard.

                          Original Ogden Temple, 1972-2011.

BUT WHY did it require more than a century before Ogden, Utah had its own LDS Temple?

Short answer is because it was "Ogden."

The long answer AND the rest of the story of how Ogden's Temples came about follows:

(NOTE: Those involved in the Provo Temple will find this history interesting too, since it involves that sister edifice too.)

Ogden was settled in 1847 and was a town Brigham Young laid out, with deep roots in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In fact, gold earned by the Mormon Battalion was used in 1847 to purchase the Ogden area from mountain man Miles Goodyear, who had already settled there.
The City of Ogden was also Utah's second-largest city for well over a century and often competed directly with Salt Lake City economically.
All one has to do is read the Salt Lake or Ogden newspapers of the late 19th and early 20th Century to get a glimpse of 
the competition and hoopla between the two cities. 
Ogden is just 36 miles north of Salt Lake City and today that equates to just barely over a half-hour drive on the freeway.
Yet, in the 19th Century and the early 20th Century, Ogden was a half-day's trip away or more from Salt Lake City, outside of railroad travel.

                            Ogden's railyard in its prime.

Ogden was "Junction city," that key railroad town that eventually attracted the liberals, unions and even non-Mormon mayors into its borders.

                                   Locomotive in Ogden on turntable during 1940s.

(Ironically, today Salt Lake City is much more "liberal" than Ogden.)
Even as recent as the 1960s, many LDS Church leaders in general  seemed to view Ogden as that liberal railroad town and thus a temple there was rarely a part of any serious discussion.
Surprisingly, even when David O. McKay, from Ogden Valley, east of Ogden City, became the 9th LDS Church President in 1951, that equation didn't rapidly change either.
Ogden, or even the greater Ogden area was apparently not suitable for its own temple decades ago.

                                       Logan Temple today.

The Logan Temple, about 44 miles north of Ogden, had opened in 1884 -- nine years before the Salt Lake Temple was completed.
Yet, access to Logan, except by railroad, was a difficult winter season endeavor, thanks to "Sardine Canyon," until 1960, when a new alignment of U.S. 89 through the canyon opened. A significant number of stakes in Weber County were in the Logan Temple District, until the first Ogden Temple came along in 1972.

                    The summit of "Sardine Canyon," looking northward.

 A common practice of many wards/stakes in the Ogden area in the 1960s was once a month to charter evening bus trips to the Logan Temple.
Ogden boasted plenty of its own active church members. In fact, during all of its history the Ogden area had 50 percent or more of its population as church members.
 Ogden area church members also significantly helped construct and finance the Salt Lake Temple, which was completed in 1893.
  By the 1920s, Ogden area church members were hungry for their own temple.
  “Ogden to get temple, Mormons are told,” was a headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner newspaper on Dec. 13, 1920.
  Members were informed at the North Weber Stake quarterly conference by Church Patriarch Hyrum G. Smith that there would a temple for Ogden in the “near future.”
  Patriarch Smith spoke about the overcrowding in the Salt Lake Temple and stressed preparation for new construction of both a tabernacle and a temple.
 Then, some six months later in 1921, President Heber J. Grant visited Ogden, stating it was not the proper time to have a temple there.
The Deseret News on May 16, 1921 reported: “A temple site was inspected in this city early Sunday morning by Presidents Heber J. Grant and Anthony W. Ivins, together with local Church officials.”

Why President Grant's visit?
An Ogden man, Joseph Clark had offered a donation of many acres of land to the LDS Church, near 30th Street and Tyler Avenue, for a possible temple.

                               30th Street and Tyler sign today.

President Grant and several other leaders came to inspect the site.
This land, above and east of most Ogden bench housing of the era, already had a religious history of sorts.
According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner, in 1890, a Methodist University, nicknamed “Utah University,” was under construction there.
At least the first floor of that university's anchor building was finished by 1891, before the Methodist Church had a national financial crisis that halted all such projects.
So, the land was returned to Joseph Clark, who had sold it to the Methodists.
Clark apparently envisioned a future Ogden Temple, sitting on the hill above today's Ogden High School, where much of Ogden's populace could see it.
(Ogden High on Harrison Boulevard didn't open until 1937.)

                The former St. Benedict's Hospital today.                     Photo by Liz Arave Hafen

Later, this hillside section of land became the St. Benedict's Hospital, in 1946.

The Deseret News article reported this on President Grant's visit:
  “A movement has been on foot for a temple for this city for sometime past, owing to the great amount of activity of Church members in genealogical and temple work and the fact that only limited numbers can now be accommodated at the Salt Lake Temple. President Grant … announced that from $2 million to $3 million were now on application for other purposes and there was no telling when a temple could be built in Ogden.”

  President Grant then probably surprised Ogden area church members by proclaiming that if every member paid a full tithing, many more temples could be readily built, including one in Ogden.

 President Grant also went on to single out Ogden’s Lester Park (663 24th Street, where today’s Main Weber County Main Library is) as a superior Ogden temple site.
  Strangely, one of the planned church building projects that President Grant had referred to was the $300,000 Deseret Gymnasium in Ogden. It was then on the drawing board, and was finished in 1925.
A gymnasium before a temple in Ogden? Yes, that's what happened.

  The preserved facade of the former Deseret Gymnasium today.           Photo by Liz Hafen.

Ogden area wards were also assessed amounts to pay for the Deseret Gym and some church leaders had even implied that after that building debt was paid, an Ogden  temple would be next to come.
 A Feb. 10, 1924 headline in the Standard-Examiner stated: “L.D.S. members looking forward to new temple and larger Tabernacle.”
  “That a temple may be built in Ogden within a few years is the fond hope of the large number of temple workers who are making regular visits to the Salt Lake and Logan temples,” the newspaper story stated. “A temple in Ogden would mean more temple work performed by local church people at less expense, as transportation expenses would then be eliminated.”

                           Ogden's Lester Park today.                               Photo by Liz Hafen.

  But history proves that President Grant was not really that keen on the Lester Park site for a temple in Ogden.
Indeed, the Standard-Examiner reported on May 7, 1924 that the Associated Clubs of Ogden had corresponded with President Grant about prospect of trading Tabernacle Square Park (site of today’s LDS Temple/Tabernacle) for Lester Park.
The said purpose of this trade was ultimately to provide “a suitable site for an Ogden temple.” This happened almost three years exactly after President Grant's initial visit to Ogden to ponder temple possibilities.
  However, that proposal was turned down too.
   As a sidelight, the LDS Church had actually given Ogden City the deed to most of Tabernacle Square in the early 1890s. But, the city decided it could not do anything with the property and so it was returned to the Church a few years afterward.
  The Standard-Examiner reported on Dec. 20, 1893: “The city gives it up. City Council gives back the Tabernacle Square to the church.”)
  Historically, there is also little doubt that the Great Depression, that hit in 1929, plus World War II in late 1941, were also at least indirect setbacks to potential Ogden temple prospects. 
Some 31 years after Ogden received its own Deseret Gymnasium, on February 12, 1956, the new Ogden Tabernacle was dedicated, -- the last such tabernacle the Church ever constructed.
But Ogden still remained temple-less.
 In the mid 1960s, Ogden continued to rank as Utah’s No. 2 city with a population of almost 69,000.
 The actual spark for an Ogden Temple actually came indirectly.
This effort involved the Church’s first-ever building committee -- with an Ogden resident who was one of its three founding members.
  In 1965, the First Presidency approved the creation of its first-ever building committee.

                                               Emil B. Fetzer.

Called to that landmark committee were: Mark B. Garff, construction company owner, as chairman; Fred A. Baker, a vice president of Ogden’s Commercial Security Bank, as vice chairman; and Emil B. Fetzer as church architect.

  This committee eventually established planning, structure and budgets to a growing Church that had previously “winged it" on its building projects.

                                       Fred A. Baker

  The committee first got world-wide chapel construction under consistent control and structure.
  Then, according to Fred A. Baker, who was assistant chairman of the Church Building Committee, from 1965-1972  (and who became the Church Building Committee Chairman from 1972-1991), President Tanner called for a meeting with the building committee in his office, and said, "We're very much concerned about the Manti temple and the Logan temple. They're overcrowded. The temple districts are too big for them, and we must do something to increase the through-put of the temples. Would you please go take a look at those temples and see what you can do to increase the size and make them so they can handle their districts better.”
  At that time, the Manti Temple had Provo and Utah County in its district and the Logan Temple included Ogden and Weber County in it borders --  and yet  they weren't built for that scope. They were designed to serve Manti and Logan.
Brother Baker continued to recollect in some taped interviews on the subject of the first Ogden Temple:

So we went to both temples, and of course, that's where you just tear your hair out,” Brother Baker recalled. “See, the temples are all grand-daddied as far as all the codes are concerned. As long as you don't touch them, the counties and the cities are kind enough to just leave you alone. You couldn't put another wire anywhere in the temple without moving something else: I mean, they've been there forever and they are chuck-full of every violation of every code ever imagined. So you're safe if you leave it alone, but the minute you say, ‘We need to change this,’ or, ‘We need to add this’, then the whole building must immediately be remodeled to meet the current codes.”
  Brother Baker continued: “Well, they didn't meet any of the fire codes. They didn't meet any of the illumination of getting out of the building. They didn't meet wiring. They didn't meet HVAC, they didn't meet engineering, I mean, you name it ... there was another violation right there.
  “So you're faced with literally ... literally tearing the building apart and adding something to it and then re-doing the whole building as a new building. That costs twice as much as building ... it's just not sensible, not practical. You don't get additional space that you need and all of that.”
  “Anyway, we're just scratching our heads,” Brother Baker recalled of 1967. “The only news you got is bad news.  There is no good news. Instead of saying, ‘We have good news and bad news, which would you like first?’, you say, ‘We have bad news and worse, which would you like first?’ It was just horrible.
  “And so we're driving back from Manti, and, you have to understand now, we've had this little bit of success with the budgeting and the new program and putting things together, and surprisingly enough the budget works. Whoo!  Whoever heard of the budget working, you know?  We're feeling bold, you know, we had a success.
  So we said, "That's kind of dumb. We had a site in Ogden, and there's one up by BYU in Provo that somebody has offered. The smart thing to do is, why don't we build a building ... a nice temple in Provo; a nice temple in Ogden; and then you wouldn't have to change Logan and Manti. That would reduce the temple down to the point where it would handle the people and so we could do some refurbishing in Logan, some refurbishing in Manti, and they'd go right on and be just fine. We wouldn't have to do anything more than just refurbish. But then you put the Ogden and Provo temples where the people are, and they don't have to drive through Sardine Canyon every winter and all that kind of stuff. Doesn't that seem logical?”

A new Church study in 1967 had revealed that 52 percent of all temple work, world-wide was performed in just three temples: Salt Lake, Logan and Manti. This also supported the need for temples in Ogden and Provo.
The plan was then presented to the First Presidency.
 Brother Baker further recalled: “So, we're all elated, and they arrange a meeting back in the Hotel Utah, and there are six of us present this time; three of the Twelve, three of the Presidency, and Mark and Emil and I. I don't even remember a secretary or anybody being there. And the Counselors make the proposal to President McKay, and he just lights up like a Christmas tree. Of course, he would, because this is home. Here's his chance for a President to propose a temple in his native country. How wonderful!”

                                     President David O. McKay

”Well, they thank us, and they say they'll take it under advisement. We leave, and we expect we'll hear about this in 1989 or something, they'll think about it for several years.
  “About a week later we get a call back and say, ‘We want to talk about this. Bring the stuff over.’
"At first the Twelve didn’t know where the idea of two new temples came from, and they really were concerned. I don’t blame them, but nobody said anything to us to indicate that we were not to propose temple projects. I thought it was reasonable and sensible. And it didn’t take the Presidency five minutes to approve. I’m used to how the mill grinds slowly, and you put an idea in there and later you would hear something. This idea took about fifteen minutes, and it was approved just that quick,” Brother Baker concluded.

            Fred A. Baker, center back, meeting with LDS Church President David O. McKay

            and other church building committee members, probably  in the late 1960s.

The First Presidency publicly announced that there would be a temple built in Ogden on Aug. 24, 1967.
That first Ogden Temple would open in early 1972.
Brother Baker agreed that much of the delay for a temple in Ogden was caused by the liberal image of Ogden. He said that feeling persisted into the 1960s.

How was the site selected for the Temple?

In Brother Baker's own words:

"Well, it came down to the old traditional argument  the only reason not to use it  was the preservation of that absolutely beautiful, marvelous old tabernacle. Pardon me, it was horrible! I mean, it was the worst example of a building you could ever find to preserve! If you're going to preserve something, pick something nice! That old building just didn't have any class, it had nothing! But anyway, I understand people feel that way about buildings. That's where the argument was. They always intended to use that site except the big ruckus ..."You can't tear down our old tabernacle!" And there were several other sites that I'm aware of. One up Seventh Street, way up high, that from the highway would have been a beautiful site. But, both from President McKay's desire to keep the cost down as much as possible and from the location in town, it was the logical place to go with it," Brother Baker stated.

There were 3 finalists for the temple site: 1. Tabernacle Square, a site first designated by Brigham Young himself; 2. The top of Seventh Street site (owned by the Hislop Family and former Weber State University cross country/track coach Chick Hislop said his late father was very proud that his 7th Street land was considered for a temple); 3. Where the McKay Dee Hospital used to be at 38th Street and Harrison Boulevard, just west of Weber State University.

Yet another factor was that downtown Ogden business leaders pleaded with the Church to have the new temple on Tabernacle Square, in hopes of revitalizing a dying downtown business center. With the railroad industry downsizing, Ogden was hurting.

                   The original Ogden Temple construction.
The original Ogden Temple, according to Brother Baker, was so simple/plain and was the way it was because that's what the First Presidency wanted.

In Brother Baker's own words:

"President McKay has decided that he wants to do this. But he's .... how shall I put it ... he is so terrified that the people will think he's a spendthrift. After the budget thing that we've been through and everything else, now, because that seems solved, suddenly we have the money for two new temples.
        So he is absolutely determined that these will be the most austere buildings ever built. And while we're present; the six of us; he gives Emil absolute, very clear instructions ... boy, no kidding about the instructions. There will be NO solemn assembly room. There's one in Salt Lake, one in Logan, one in Manti ... if they need a solemn assembly room, they can travel. There will be NO multiple spires. That is not necessary. A single spire is fine. No multiple spires. There will NOT be any excess footage. He's seen the typical temple where there's footage by the ton, because you don't build a temple on an austere basis, you build it on a magni ... there will be NO cubage, because he's been up there and looked at that forty-foot ceiling and said, "Oh, I'm having to heat and air condition that," you know?
        And so, I'm not kidding, I'm talking about austerity! "You must use [one] plan for the buildings. You can change the exterior panels to be slightly different if you want to make them look different, but the plan ... I'm not paying for two architectural plans." One plan.
        The crowning one of all, there will NOT be an Angel Moroni on the temple. Oh! I made some notes til I got to that last one, then I said, "scratch that last one. You may start out that way, but that angel will fly up there one way or another."

        As we walked back from the meeting, we're all just ... don't know what happened.  As we walked back from the meeting, Mark said to Emil, "Emil, be sure to set those (supports) strong enough to support the angel. We don't want to have to tear it all down and do it again," Brother Baker concluded.

                            Cornerstone of the original Ogden Temple.

How did the actual plans for the two temples, Ogden and Provo, come to be:

In Brother Baker's own words:

"So Emil gets his little staff together and starts working on sketches. We're probably three months in by that time, and Emil and I are scheduled to go to London. But Emil has been in Los Angeles all week refurbishing the Los Angeles temple, and I've been in Salt Lake all week taking care of the building program, and we're going to meet Friday night at the PanAm building in New York and jump on PanAm over to London, and then do the European tour.
        During this week I'm out of contact with Emil; he's in Los Angeles and we're both working. We don't have any chance to talk. Tuesday the telephone rings and Janeal, my secretary, said, "Derek Metcalf from the temple department would like to talk with you."
        I said, "have him come up."
        Derek came up and said, "I've been asked to tell you that the First Presidency has had BYU do a new temple film. We have just seen it, and approved it (with some minor changes), and the Presidency has decided that you're now authorized to use the film domestically."
        Now, we've had film in Europe before because of the language differences, but never domestically. We've never used a temple film domestically. That's all brand new.
        Wow! That's a dramatic change!
        I pick up the phone to call Emil, and of course, they can't find him ... he's off looking at furniture or some such thing.
        The next day the telephone calls and Janeal says, "It's Bruce Smith from Advanced Planning." Bruce was the guy who ran the computer programs for the church. Bruce came to my office and said, "I've just been able to convince the  Brethren that we can now handle all of the accounting in the temples with the computers. There is no longer any need for a temple company."
        Now, up to this point, the temple company was the way you kept track of who got work done, who didn't get work done. And people didn't know that. They just thought the company was counting. Well now, the company is the thing that holds everything up in the temple. How many times I've been in Salt Lake temple, and you're waiting for Sister Smith, and she's got there late and is a little old a dresses slowly, and here's 285 people sitting there waiting for Sister Smith, who strolls casually in and sits down ... you know, that's what a company does to you. It kills you. I mean, efficiency-wise.
        Well, suddenly, in two days, we throw out the company, and we can now use the film.
        Bruce said to me, "Did you ever think what that meant?"
        I said, "Not only have we thought about what it meant, we've talked about it a hundred times the possibilities that could make for multiple sessions, because now, if you can use the film you could program the whole thing differently. Instead of move .... move .... move ... you could have sessions going on all where .... well.
        I'm thunderstruck, and I try to call Emil again, and he's still looking at furniture.
        And so I decide there's no sense of telling him ... it means his three months of sketches are in the garbage can, but we'll let him know when we get there.
        So, I fly Friday morning to New York, and he flies Friday morning to New York, and we get there at 8:00 o'clock at night and get on PanAm, and we're on our way to London. As we get on the airplane, the stewardesses say, "We're late tonight, as you know, so instead of  the food being delivered cold, we had it all delivered all warm, so it's all ready for you, the minute we take off you're going to eat."
        And I say, "Well, I don't want to tell Emil. I don't want to spoil his steak. So, I guess I'll wait until we eat."
        We have a nice dinner, and clear everything away, and then I can say to him now, "Emil, I have some good news and some bad news. Which would you like to know about?"
        And he said, "Let's get the bad news out of the way."
        I said, "Well, your three months of sketches, you can throw them in the garbage can, because it's all changed.
        He said, "What in the world do you mean?"
        So I said, "Well, first of all, we don't need companies any more. At all."
        "You're kidding!" he said. "We've always had companies!"
        I said, "Well, you don't need them anymore. The computer is now taking over the company."
        "Oh! That's great!"
        And then I said, "Next we have a new temple film which is authorized for use in the United States, as well as overseas."
        At first that confuses him a little bit, and he says, "Now wait a minute! What do we need a film for?"
        And I said, "Well, you need it because you're going to have smaller temples everywhere. You're not going to have casts that can do that. It's too difficult: too challenging."
        "Oh yeah", he says, "I can see that. That's going to..."
        Well, anyway. So I said, "Think of the possibilities now. Here's a Celestial room, and now you can put several ordinance rooms around it, on a schedule, so that they operate with each other, not against each other. So you have a central Celestial room, you have several ordinance rooms, you have a veil space, and what we have to do now is get that organized so that it makes sense and works together and not against each other."
        I don't know, when you went to school, did you have to do simultaneous equations? Those equations where you had to solve two things at the same time, and when you got the solution, both answers were right? That's what we were trying to do that night. Emil got a tracing paper out and we're working on these little tiny, silly tray tables; and the nice girl comes up and says, "What in the world are you doing?"
        We said, "We're trying to work on a plan."
        She said, "Well, look ..." back in the good ole' days ... plane in those days was a ... across from the galley was a regular restaurant table. You know, the table with two benches, and the girls used that to get the meals ready and everything. She said," We're not using that, why don't you come back and spread your stuff out on that nice..."
        So, geez, we went back and spread our stuff out and we started working ... you see you had to know how many rooms, how many seats in a room. We knew the film length, including the pauses for the tokens. We knew approximately how long it takes to get a number of people through the veil. And so you have all this information, and now you need to decide, "Let's see, now ... how many rooms, and how will it fit together, and the clock's running and we worked and worked and worked and worked, and, of course, neither one of us are mathematicians; we're idiots. It was the biggest mess you've ever seen in your whole life. We had papers and formulas. It was just comical.
        Finally, we get down to a thing where we try five rooms...that won't work. Four rooms ... doesn't come out. You've got conflict in the veil space every time, and then in the Celestial room every time. And we just fuss and fuss, and finally we got six rooms with eighty people in each room, and we start going around, starting a session every twenty minutes to see how it works out.
        Surprisingly enough, it works out, except in the veil space. And we keep working, and keep trying to figure out, "How is that working? It works in the rooms, why doesn't it work in the veil space?"
        And them Emil comes up with the idea. We were going, in rooms ... one, two, three, four, five, six ... and if you went one, six, and then in the middle, and then across, nobody ever saw each other in the veil space. It was just vacant when you went in there.
        It all worked! And by the time we got that figured out, the captain came on and said, "In twenty minutes, folks, wake up; we're landing in London in twenty minutes ." We worked all night long on that one little thing.
        Now, I didn't have anything to do with architecture. I didn't have anything to do with what the temple was going to look like, or be like, or size-wise; that was all Emil's instruction from (inaudible) ... all I helped work on is this little space up here that was key to the whole thing going on, and we believed it would work...we tried the math a million times and said, "It will work".
        We took it back to the Presidency and they said, "Eureka! Let's go with that plan." And so suddenly we had a domestic temple that had the potential to just totally explode vicarious work for the dead.
        Why no one else believed us, I don't know, but no one else believed us. It was the strangest thing," Brother Baker concluded of how the actual plan for the Ogden/Provo Temples came to be.

  Ogden Temple photograph with President Smith's signature/date. From Fred A. Baker's collection.

             A painting by Keith Wilcox, as if the temple sat right by the mountains.

When the Ogden Temple opened the first statistics caused an uproar with Church Headquarters. (The Ogden Temple opened before the sister Provo Temple did.)
In Brother Baker's own words:

 "Well, after Ogden opened for a month, I was in the Tuesday meeting. One of the Brethren , I don't even remember who, said, "Have you had any indication about the activity at the Ogden temple?" and I said "Only that I know it's crowded...I mean, it's just jammed, because everybody's interested in the new temple."
        They said, "Why don't you call and find out how the work's going."
        I said, "I'd be glad to."
        So I went back to the office and called Derek Metcalf and said, "How's the activity?"
        He said, "Well, Ogden has done more work in one month than any other temple has ever done." More vicarious work in one month. And I think, "Isn't that neat?"
        So I go back the next Tuesday and report. My report is, "You asked for the figures..." and I gave them the figures, (I've forgotten what they were now) ..."Ogden has done more work in one month than any other temple."
        And I thought there would be ... what ... happiness? Satisfaction? I don't know what. I didn't expect them to dance on the table, but I thought they'd be happy about it.
        Silence. And someone said, "That figure doesn't sound right to me. Would you go back and double-check ?"
        I said, "Oh, yeah. I'd be glad to." So I called Derek and said, "Add another week to it."
        He said, "Well, now the Ogden temple has done more work than Salt Lake and all the other temples...combined."
        And so, I report that. Again, they were just not happy about things. Isn't that odd? Wouldn't you think that was strange?
        As we walked out, Mike, (who was the secretary of the committee) put his arm around me and said, "You seem a little glum."
        And I said, "I'm a little shocked. I thought this was the time for applause, maybe.
        He said, "Fred, you just don't understand. These are the senior brethren of the church. To them the Salt Lake Temple is the flagship temple. In their fondest imagination nothing, no building, no location will ever do more work than Salt Lake. That's just ingrained. It's their home. It's where they meet every Thursday. It's everything to them, and you come in there and say 'That little pipsqueak up in Ogden has done more work than your big ole' fancy temple.' Surely you understand that?"
        I said, "No, I'm the happy little ten-year-old. I was born in Provo, but moved here when I was six months old. I don't know anything but Ogden. Ogden has always been my home. It's a great, neat little town! I grew up there, I went to its schools, I went to Madison, I went to Central, I went to Ogden High, I loved the school system, we had great neighborhoods ... I had fun in our neighborhoods, we enjoyed everything ... it was just wonderful! You know, I thought Ogden was just the greatest place in the world! When they think of Ogden, they think 'They elected the first non-Mormon mayor! That's where those railroads are that wouldn't come to Salt Lake, and that brought all those labor unions here, and all those democrats!' You've ruined my whole day, because I've always thought just the opposite of Ogden, I thought Ogden was a nice place!"

        So that's how different it is. Now I think the attitude would be a little different. But in those days they were not happy that any ... it wasn't just Ogden ... he said they wouldn't have felt quite so bad if it had been Provo because of BYU ... but to have Ogden? Oh, that's gotta' be the ultimate problem. So, there you go! Now isn't that strange?" Brother Baker's recollection of the first statistics ended.

                 A photo of construction on the first Ogden Temple in about 1971. 

How did Ogden gain the new temple version in 2014?

The number of weddings were down at the Ogden Temple. A leaking roof and declining downtown were other problems. Some Ogden leaders and businessmen lobbied the Church for something to be done.
Finally, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley toured the Ogden Temple. He was shocked by the decline of the surrounding area and it was this reaction that put things in motion. The Church wanted to revitalize the area -- and remodel the Temple.
The only timetable was that the original Ogden Temple architect, Emil Fetzer, had to pass away first, according to Brother Baker. 

"The (new Ogden Temple) plan was done six years before Emil died," Brother Baker stressed. 
So, the fact the Brigham City Temple would not be open yet to fill the gap didn't matter. The new Ogden Temple had its own independent timetable.

Sure enough, some months after Emil passed away, the Church announced their new temple plan.

Why the delay in completion of the new Ogden Temple"?

The delay in the construction of the second Ogden Temple was from the underground water problems in the area, something that the new designers and contractors refused to acknowledge from those who were around for the building of the first Ogden Temple. This extra work added almost 18 months onto the process, according to Elder William R. Walker, executive director of the church's temple department, at that time. Elder Walker declined to provide any cost for the new temple.

(The underground water problem is also the "why" there is no direct access from the underground parking to the temple's interior.)

                      New Ogden Temple cornerstone and plaque.

The original Ogden Temple was not much fancier than an LDS Chapel -- very simple. However, the new Temple is notches above that and is very elaborate -- like other new temples.
When Brother Baker was asked if he had any regrets about the original Ogden Temple being torn down and replaced, he quickly said no -- he said he just wished there was some sort of monument or marker somewhere to acknowledge that the original Ogden Temple ushered in a new, faster era of endowment work.
"If I had my way I would have off to the side, in a little alcove, a nice little monument that says, 'This was the site of the original building that, because of the decisions of the Presidency to use film changed...revolutionized vicarious work for the dead and caused the thing to just explode,'" Brother Baker said.

SOURCES:  Recorded/transcribed of interviews with Fred A. Baker on Sept. 8, 2014; other interviews with Fred A. Baker by the Church History Department; Articles in the Church Archives; Ensign Magazine Archives;  Ogden Standard-Examiner archives; telephone interview with Elder William R. Walker; other personal interviews.
(Fred A. Baker passed away on December 10, 2015.)

-NOTE: This history has been put on-line since much of it has not been available to Church members.
He co-wrote the official history of the Ogden Temple for the LDS Church. This book was distributed exclusively to only a select group of LDS Church members.
Lynn can be contacted by email at:

-Since the Provo Temple has most of the same shortcomings as the original Ogden Temple did, it is likely only a matter of time before that temple too is remodeled ...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Social Media helps keep the Church purer?

IT came to light in November of 2015, probably thanks to social media (Facebook), that a Boston LDS Stake had been poised to experiment with a shorter meeting block, one of 2 hours and 15 minutes, instead of three hours.
This plan was to presumably delete Sunday School.
(Rumors that the Church would shorten the 3-hour block have been going around for at least 20 years, with no official support ...)
Anyway, turns out this Boston Stake's plans were rogue and not approved by the General Authorities.
LDS Church headquarters released this statement after finding out about this plan:

"After recognizing it was not within Church guidelines, local Church leadership in the Boston Massachusetts Stake decided to drop plans to shorten the standard Sunday worship meeting schedule. The two-month experiment set to begin in the stake in January was planned locally with good intentions to better observe the Sabbath Day."

My wife-to-be was in one of the original pilot wards of the late 1970s in Ogden, Utah that pre-tested today's 3-hour block plan. That was  an official, Church sanctioned pilot program. So, such pilot programs are at times officially used by the Church to test changes.

This Boston meeting plan was not official. 

 If the early AD Christian Saints had Facebook to use, perhaps the Great Apostasy would have been delayed somewhat. 

And, today wards and stakes that try such rogue behavior may not get away with it for long, thanks to social media ...
Some stakes I know of in the past that tried to enforce rogue standards for facial hair among priesthood holders, rename church programs, add extra questions to the temple recommend interview and the like would not likely get away with such inconsistent conduct today, thanks to Facebook.

Like Facebook or not, it may actually help keep the Church purer and keep some stake/ward leaders who go rogue, more in line.

-Going through my late mother's writings, I found a few more weird things that happened decades ago in the LDS Church:

-A Riverdale Utah Elders Quorum "ordained" their wives as "Elderettes" 3 decades ago or more.

-Priests in one Utah Ward at one time pranked in an unholy manner by putting some styrofoam pieces among the bread in the Sacrament trays.

-An overzealous High Councilor from Plain City incorrectly at one time tried to tell farmers that not only humans should refrain from food and water on Fast Day, but that their animals should too.

-A stake president in Idaho openly taught in all his sermons that farmers should not sell their grain to the alcohol companies. The stake president was secretly selling all his grain to the alcohol companies and making a fortune.

-Back in the days of "Cry Rooms" in stake conferences at the Ogden Tabernacle, a family in the late 1960s came inside the cry room and brought paper plates/cups, etc. and ate lunch there -- all while the meeting was going on.

-Women and even a 6-year-old boy said opening and/or closing prayers in some Sacrament meetings held in Weber County during the 1970s, long before females were given church-wide permission to say such prayers decades later.

-A Ward in Utah during 1979-1980 went an entire two years without ever giving members a single year-end tithing and donation receipt.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A glimpse at the LDS Church in 1932 reveals a few historical tidbits

LOOKING at a directory of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from June of 1932 reveals a few surprising historical tidbits.

For example, the LDS Church owned 5 hospitals in that era:
1. Cottonwood Stake Maternity Hospital, Murray, Utah.
2. Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital, Ogden, Utah. 
3. The Idaho Falls LDS Hospital, Idaho Falls, Idaho.
4. Dr. W.H. Groves LDS Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah.
5. LDS Children's Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Cottonwood and Idaho Falls hospitals are an obscure part of LDS Church history, as is that the LDS Hospital was originally named after a specific doctor.

Of course the LDS Church had Brigham Young University, LDS Business College and Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) back then.
But it also owned Weber College in Ogden and Dixie College in St. George back then.
In addition, there two other former properties, mostly obscure in today's knowledge: 
Gila Junior College in Thatcher, Arizona and the Juarez Stake Academy in Mexico.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Jesus Christ is NOT in the Spirit World

                    One of the oversimplified pieces of LDS artwork that's out there.

I recently heard a widower of a few years -- and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- reflecting on his wife's passing. His wife had said that she looked forward to meeting Jesus in "Paradise" (the Spirit world) -- and her departed family members.
I did not have the heart to correct he, nor his late wife's incorrect understanding directly.
A significant number of newspaper obituaries of LDS Church members wrongly declare that a deceased person has gone back to their Heavenly Father.

I wish more LDS Church members would have a more accurate understanding of the Spirit World.
Jesus Christ is NOT present in the Spirit world, nor does he likely visit there.
Because he could only spend 3 days there, as a spirit, after his mortal death.
It IS the world of spirits after all, and all inhabitants do live by faith there, much as they do here. To have Christ, or God the Father there defeats the purpose of the Spirit world.
Yes, the Holy Ghost and Light of Christ can be felt in the Spirit world by the repentant, but that's all. I suspect even prayer is present in the Spirit world.
(One's knowledge of life before birth also ISN'T automatically restored in the Spirit world, despite some past teachings that it is.)
This myth of meeting your make right after death keeps being perpetuated most often in the LDS Church during funerals -- he or she was "called home" or they will "meet their maker."
This incorrect doctrine may make people feel "comforted," but it simply isn't accurate. (Saying someone has "transferred" or "graduated" from life would be more accurate terms.)
This myth is also present in some oversimplified LDS artwork (see the above photograph from a St. George, Utah funeral home).
Perhaps only those who have been dead briefly and then returned to life have ever been to the Spirit world before. So, how can one correctly say "they were called home" when they have never been there before?
No deceased person likely meets Christ until they are at the judgment bar, or after they are resurrected.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Washington, D.C. Temple in 1913?

"Mormon Temple at National Capital" was a Dec. 12, 1913 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner newspaper.
Even back then, Church members were very serious about trying to have an LDS Temple constructed there.
This article reported despite having just 150 Church members in the area at the time, this small group was organizing to propose that a temple be built in the nation's capital.
Of course, no temple was built then and it would be another 61 years in 1974 before such a sacred building would open near Washington, D.C.
The article even quoted U.S. Senator Reed Smoot (Utah) as being in favor of this project in 1913, though "the plan to build has not taken tangible form."
-WHEN THE LDS CHURCH FIRST ESPOUSED VIDEO PRODUCTIONS: The Ogden Standard-Examiner of Aug. 30, 1913 reported that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adopted the use of motion pictures very soon after their invention.
The Church in 1913 reported wanting to use motion pictures in Sunday School classes in particular, as a way to instill the details of Christ's life into them minds of its members.
The story noted that some Sunday School officials did not initially  favor the use of motion pictures, though.
NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What about alcohol and tea being used in foods from a Word of Wisdom standpoint?

I'm seeing this more than ever now -- substances that are against the Word of Wisdom used in various food products.
I'm betting no General Authority is likely to ever address this gray area, but I will ...
If something's consumption is against the Word of Wisdom, then why is it OK to use it for cooking or in other things you eat?

EXAMPLE 1: Whiskey (and other alcohol) is sometimes used in cooking meat. I personally say that should be avoided whenever possible. 
Yes, the alcohol itself may evaporate in the cooking process, but the flavor of whiskey remains in the food. Why is that OK?
Seems as much as anything like the alcohol companies' ploy to get consumers to use more alcohol than anything else.
I don't think a temple worthy member should be doing it. If an LDS Church member has to buy whiskey to cook with, then they have certainly already patronized the alcohol companies.
If you buy meat with a whiskey flavor, then at the very least this has the appearance of evil.
(Now some may argue, what about mouthwash -- it has alcohol in it ....? Yes, it does. But you don't swallow much and alcohol is an antiseptic agent as its natural, God-given use and that's what the alcohol in mouthwash is being used for -- to clean, not to consume.)

EXAMPLE 2: Some other products just contain names that are things to avoid in the Word of Wisdom and yet they don't really contain the harmful products themselves. "Root beer," for instance; or "beer nuts."
No problem really here, but what can you expect from an alcohol-crazed world like ours????

Yes, these are gray areas of the Word of Wisdom. Members can do what they think best, but I've given you my advice to ponder.
Perhaps this is being too picky, or concerned about a small matter, but the Scriptures seems to stress that small things matter ....

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Handcart 'Treks' -- Missing the Pioneer mark

OK, let's make this clear -- I've never been on a so-called handcart "trek," but every four years my LDS Stake sponsors one for all its youth, age 14 and older. Several of my children have been on a 'trek.'
Notwithstanding, I have some concerns about what these pseudo activities really teach LDS youth.
First and foremost, a "trek" like this would not be my personal choice for a mega stake event. No, I fail to see much rationale in having one. 

If you want to give youth a rugged wilderness experience, 

then youth need to backpack somewhere remote and really 

see how it is to live for a few days with only what you 

have on your back...

--Still, if you have a handcart trek, here are 2 things to 


1. You've got to realize that handcart treks were NOT a vastly popular way of LDS pioneer travel. Only 4.23 percent of all Mormon Pioneers traveled by handcart. That is just 1,962 travelers vs. the total of some 70,000 pioneers before the railroad came along.

(-Source: Deseret News, July 24, 2008.)

The problem historically I see is that youth come away from 

handcart trek thinking that was the "normal" mode of

travel for pioneers, when it really wasn't. Trek leaders need 

to stress this.

2. Also, the only really way I see that a pioneer trek has much 

value is by making it come alive and that is best done

if  it is actually done on the trail, or at least near where actual 

pioneers would have traveled  to Utah.

-Furthermore, the handcart disaster is a good example of 

man's mistakes and misjudgment.

"There are several causes for the unhappy disaster which 

overtook these two handcart companies," Milton R. Hunter 

wrote in his "Utah in Her Western Setting" history book (pages 395-396). The  emigrants themselves were somewhat foolhardy in their over-enthusiasm to reach Utah Much of the blame is due those officials who permitted them to start on their journey so late in the year, contrary to the instructions of Governor (Brigham) Young, which were so emphatic on this subject."

Hunter said adjustments were made in the next handcart companies so none ever left so late in the season -- and had better equipment. 

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.