Temple month adds depth to Christmas observance
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Feeling the need to have the temple become part of his ward’s celebration of Christmas, Bishop Joseph Featherstone of the Bountiful 2nd Ward, Bountiful Utah Central Stake, designated December as a special temple month.
“The idea was that we would have one or more members of the ward in the temple every day it was open in the month,” he said. “We also had a ‘kickoff’ the first Saturday in December, where we had 81 members of our ward in a single session.”
To help sustain awareness and motivation, Blair Bagley, the ward Young Women president and a talented graphic artist, made a calendar chart to track temple attendance in the ward.
“Her thought was to make sure every member of the ward, regardless of their attendance and activity would be a part of temple month,” Bishop Featherstone said.
Accordingly, Sister Bagley created a representation of the Bountiful Utah Temple that intricately incorporates the names of all of the ward members written in a script font as an element in the design.
Also part of the design are these elements: A quotation of the familiar passage in Isaiah 2:2 about the mountain of the Lord’s house being established in the top of the mountains; the words to the hymn “High on the Mountain Top”; the words to the hymn “The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning”; and the words to the children’s song “I Love to See the Temple.”
A central element in the design is this quotation from President Thomas S. Monson: “I think there is no place in the world where I feel closer to the Lord than in one of His holy temples.”
The first two Saturdays had the highest attendance. Many attended on the first three Tuesdays of the month; a bit fewer on other weekdays, and some on Mondays, when the Salt Lake Temple was open but the Bountiful Utah Temple was closed.
Overall, the ward met its goal: Every day of the month that the temple was open, at least a few — and usually more — ward members attended the temple.
“We wanted everyone to be included in the temple month, so we [had] a special Primary day where all the Primary kids and their parents [went] to the temple to walk the grounds and talk about the temple,” the bishop said. “We had 54 attend.
“Also, the Young Men and Young Women went every Tuesday during the month in the morning at 5:30 to do baptisms. Those who don’t have recommends were encouraged to go visit the temple grounds and spend time there.
“And for the homebound who have recommends but can’t attend for health reasons, we [had] someone in the ward go in their place. We called it ‘proxy for a proxy.’?”
Bishop Featherstone said great blessings have come to the ward for members’ dedication to temple attendance during the month. A member of the ward has been asked to compile ward members’ experiences. These will be shared later with the ward at large, some of them anonymously due to their personal nature.
This is the second year the ward has designated December as its temple month, Bishop Featherstone said. “We did the same last year, just after I was called to be bishop.”
Ward members now consider temple month as one of their Christmas traditions.