SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced some significant changes at its Salt Lake City and Manti temples as renovations continue.

In late 2019, the Church announced plans to renovate the Salt Lake Temple. At the time, the Church said renovations would include replacing the historic building’s aging mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, as well as a significant seismic upgrade to help the building withstand a large-magnitude earthquake.

As the renovations have progressed from that point, the Church says they “have felt the Lord’s hand guiding us in modifying several aspects of the renovation.”

Because the Salt Lake Temple is at the heart of Church headquarters, a statement says changes are being made to “ensure a familiar, uplifting experience for members who attend that temple.”

In addition to the seismic protection, which is the principal reason for the temple renovation, many other improvements and changes to the temple and its surroundings are being made, according to the Church:

  • Two more instruction rooms, additional sealing ordinance rooms, and a second baptistry are being added to allow for greater capacity and more temple ordinances.
  • Previously, the member experience in this temple included a progressive room-to-room presentation by live actors. When the temple reopens, this will transition to single-room presentations by film, available in more than 80 languages (previously presented only in English). This decision will also make it possible to hold more sessions each day.
  • The area that previously housed the temple cafeteria will now accommodate additional temple facilities to support the increased capacity of the temple. There will not be a cafeteria included when the temple reopens.

“As we make these significant changes for the future, many historic elements are being impacted,” the Church says. “For example, the addition of new instruction rooms, a new method of presentation, seismic strengthening, and changes to meet accessibility requirements meant that the murals in the temple would need to be moved and/or repainted. It was impossible to know whether the murals could be preserved during such a move. They were originally painted directly on lath and plaster walls, which had been repaired and repainted many times because of water damage and other deterioration. Further, the change to a film presentation meant that the rooms would be reconfigured. For all these reasons, the murals were carefully photographed and documented before removal, and some of the original portions are being preserved in the Church’s archives. Many other historic features of the building have also been photographed, documented, replicated and in some cases, architecturally salvaged.”

In April 2019, the Church announced the Manti Temple would also be renovated and renewed. The Church says the multi-year renovation will begin later this year. Changes will include mechanical updates and other changes “to prepare the temple to serve for generations.”

The Manti Utah Temple | Courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ

On Friday, the Church released a statement saying the progressive room-to-room presentation by live actors will transition to single-room presentations by film, similar to the changes in the Salt Lake Temple.

The murals will also be photographed, documented, and removed. Some elements of the temple’s structure will be updated to accommodate these changes and improve accessibility for patrons. The historic staircases in the Manti Temple (and Salt Lake Temple) are being preserved during the renovations, the Church says.

The Church explains that, with both temples, there is a desire to ensure the learning and experience are similar for all who come to the temple from anywhere.

“The historic pioneer-era temples have been a blessing to the Latter-day Saints for more than 140 years, and we know that with the updates and renovations now announced or underway they will continue to serve their sacred purpose for generations to come,” the Church says.