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Guest editorial: Heber Valley Temple: a call for peacemaking

I would like to ask Russell Nelson, did he mean what he said?

Shawn Savarino, Heber City

Russell Nelson, President of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke recently about the need for members of the church to be “Peacemakers.” He explained that “Now is the time to cease insisting that it is your way or no way.” He challenged followers of the faith to “Examine your discipleship within the context of the way you treat others. I bless you to make any adjustments that may be needed so that your behavior is enabling, respectful and representative of a true follower of Jesus Christ.”

Given this edict, it is hard to understand how the Heber Valley Temple project can continue as proposed. Since the temple’s announcement, it has sparked controversy, protest, petitions and an overwhelming sense of confusion as to why this location and why this size. It has pitted neighbor against neighbor and most recently, required two armed officers to manage the crowd at a Wasatch County planning commission meeting where a decision was made regarding lighting changes requested by the LDS Heber Valley temple project.

As explained on the LDS official website, temples are sacred spaces to LDS faithful.; a place where “heaven and earth meet” and “peace and revelation” are felt. I always assumed the LDS also wanted non-members to look at the beautiful temples in awe and wonder and perhaps be reminded of their own relationship with Jesus Christ, feel at peace themselves and even seek to learn more about the LDS faith.

If the temple in the Heber Valley is built where and how it is proposed, it will represent none of the above. Even LDS members have shared on social media and during public comments at local county meetings that the church leadership needs to be a better neighbor in this process. Wasatch County LDS and non-LDS alike continue to express confusion at how building an 88,000-square-foot building in the center of a residential neighborhood is being respectful of the small mixed faith community. How is suggesting a structure that will reach heights of over 200 feet, so tall that FAA flashing lights are required on its spires and will block the mountain views for hundreds of residents, a thoughtful example of how to treat others? How is proposing a change to the local lighting ordinance to allow uplighting, requesting higher levels of brightness and light color, and eliminating the county’s ability to ever be considered a Dark Sky Community, representative of a true follower of Jesus Christ?

I would like to ask Russell Nelson, did he mean what he said? If so, he has an opportunity to prove that he is a true “Peacemaker.” Work with the community to find the right place, the right size, the right height for a temple that will be celebrated, cherished and appreciated by ALL in the Heber Valley and ultimately, around the world. “Now is the time to cease insisting that it is your way or no way.” Now is the time to “choose to be a peacemaker.”

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