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Star Valley Wyoming Temple

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Presenting plans to Afton Town Council in March; acquiring building permits; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 2015

Location:  Afton, Wyoming, United States.
Announcement:  1 October 2011
Groundbreaking and Site Dedication:  25 April 2015

Groundbreaking Ceremony

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Star Valley Wyoming Temple will be held on Saturday, April 25, 2015. Additional information and invitations for the groundbreaking will be provided by local leaders in the coming weeks.

Construction Status

As of February 2015, the Town of Afton is reviewing plans for the Star Valley Wyoming Temple and processing building permit applications. Plans will be presented to the Town Council at the March 10 meeting. During this process, plans are still subject to change.1

Construction Approval

On May 8, 2012, the Afton Town Council unanimously approved a variance to permit the spire of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple to exceed zoning height restrictions. Although exact plans had not been determined, the temple was expected to be approximately 22,000 square feet with a 90-to-100-foot high spire. Temple renderings shown to the Council as possible representations included The Gila Valley Arizona Temple, Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple, Sacramento California Temple, and Calgary Alberta Temple. The exact design and orientation of the building would be determined in consultation with 15 surrounding land owners.2

On December 11, 2012, the Afton Planning & Zoning Board Chairman informed the Town Council that representatives from the design firm for the Star Valley Wyoming Temple contacted him to inquire about additional rules and regulations pertaining to roads, water, and sewer. It was determined that the Town Attorney would review the matter and respond to the firm.

At the Afton Town Council meeting in February 2013, it was stated that a meeting had recently been held with Church representatives regarding the infrastructure for the temple site. No additional information was available.

Temple Rendering

Renderings of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple and site plan have not yet been publicly released.

Temple Site

On May 25, 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 south of Afton. The mayor of Afton, Loni Hillyard, said that members are "elated at the prospects of a temple in our valley." She feels certain 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."3

On April 30, 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."4

Temple Prophecy

Moses Thatcher
     The Star Valley Wyoming Temple was prophesied by Elder Moses Thatcher of the Quorum of the Twelve. 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 for Mormon settlement.

On July 3, 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."

Temple Announcement

During his opening remarks at the Saturday morning session of the October 2011 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced plans for the first temple in Wyoming, to be constructed in historic Star Valley.5 The announcement drew an audible reaction from the Conference Center congregation who marveled at the news. "I think I'll dedicate that one," quipped the prophet. "There's good fishing up there!"

Grateful cheers and tears instantly filled the valley. "We were just as surprised as anyone," said President Mark Taylor of the Afton Wyoming Stake. "There have been a lot of well-wishers and residents who have already stepped forward and offered land and other donations to get the ball rolling." 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."6

Temple History

Star Valley Tabernacle, taken 1917
     The Church has a long history in Star Valley with the first Mormons of record arriving from England in 1858 to labor on the Lander Cutoff. By 1870, Church cattle were pastured in the valley, and 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 August 15, 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 August 14–15, 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.7

Temple Facts

The Star Valley Wyoming Temple will be the first temple built in Wyoming.

1. Sarah Hale, "Plan review and building permit for LDS temple moving forward," Star Valley Independent 18 Feb. 2015, 23 Feb. 2015 <>. 2. Dahl Erickson, "Star Valley Temple variance approved," Star Valley Independent 10 May 2012, 10 May 2012 .
3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, "Star Valley Wyoming Temple Site Announced," 25 May 2012.
4. Dahl Erickson, "Star Valley Temple location confirmed," Star Valley Independent 30 Apr. 2012, 30 Apr. 2012 .
5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, "New Temples Announced for France, Africa, Colombia, Utah and Wyoming," 1 Oct. 2011.
6. Dahl Erickson, "LDS Church announces future construction of temple in Star Valley," Star Valley Independent 1 Oct. 2011, 4 Oct. 2011 .
7. Margaret Tueller, "Star Valley's landmark building has key role in celebration," Church News 29 Sept. 2009, 1 Oct. 2011 .

"And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them."
—Mosiah 2:6

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