Construction on Latter-day Saint temple in Pocatello moving forward, new president announced
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POCATELLO – It’s been 18 months since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broke ground on a new temple in Pocatello.
The 67,000-square-foot building is under construction on a 13-acre parcel in a neighborhood overlooking the city at 2140 Satterfield Drive.
Larry Fisher, a regional spokesman for the church, tells EastIdahoNews.com a completion date has not yet been announced.
“You’ll have an easier time getting to Fort Knox than getting an answer to that question,” Fisher jokes. “We were told initially that construction was expected to last up to three years. We anticipate it wrapping up next year, but that’s not an official word.”
Fisher says construction is moving seamlessly forward in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there hasn’t been any report of damage after Monday night’s wind storm.
Latter-day Saint temples differ from the meetinghouses or chapels where members meet for Sunday worship services. A temple, according to a news release from the church, is considered a “house of the Lord,” where Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism, and other ordinances that unite families for eternity. Inside, members learn more about the purpose of life and make covenants to serve Jesus Christ and their fellowman.
The church builds temples all over the world. During the Pocatello temple’s groundbreaking ceremony last year, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, an area authority for the church, said it will be made of the finest materials and reflect themes native to the area.
Access to the temple is reserved exclusively for members of the church who adhere to specific standards of worthiness laid out by church leaders. An open house will be held once the temple is complete, where members of the community will be able to tour the inside prior to its dedication.
The church announced in April that Pocatello couple Bruce Winegar, and his wife, Karen, would serve as the temple’s president and matron, respectively.
Winegar and his wife declined to offer any comment, but they told the Idaho State Journal in April they are excited about this new calling.
“When they made the announcement, everybody here was really excited about it because the Winegars are well known in the community,” Fisher says. “People really love and respect them.”
Winegar and his wife will oversee the temple operations once it is dedicated and will begin their three-year service in October when they’ll head to Salt Lake City for a training seminar.
“There’s a lot of interest in the community in knowing they (church members) can come here and it won’t be as far to travel as Idaho Falls,” Bruce told ISJ. “It will be a meeting point — a place where people can come and pray and meditate and be spiritually uplifted.”
The Pocatello Temple is expected to serve more than 64,000 church members in eastern Idaho from Blackfoot to Malad.
Bruce and his wife moved to Pocatello in 1975 and raised eight children together.
Bruce is a retired environmental engineer manager at J.R. Simplot Co., according to a church news release. He was born in Salt Lake City to Grant Leonard Winegar and Betty Louise Haacke Call.
He retired in 2007 and was called to serve as president of the Cherry Hill, New Jersey mission. (A mission president oversees a group of missionaries in a specific area). He’s also served as a stake president (a stake makes up several congregations in a geographical area) and bishop (the leader of a congregation).
Bruce currently serves as first counselor to the president of the Idaho Falls Temple.
Karen was born in Logan, Utah to Vernon Jay and Kathleen Toolson Finch. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in elementary education, according to ISJ, and worked as a substitute teacher for several years. She served as the president of both the PTA and PTO at Lewis and Clark Elementary School in Pocatello, where all of her children attended, and is a former member of the Pocatello High School alumni board.
“We love this community so much and we feel like we have a great community of many faiths,” Karen said.
The announcement for the Pocatello temple was made in April 2017 by then church president Thomas S. Monson. As of Oct. 2019, the church had 217 temples announced, under construction, or operating worldwide.