Remembering Dean M. Davies, who saw Temple Square as the Vatican
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The most crystallized statement about the Temple Square vision held by Latter-day Saint leaders was lost amid a flood of information during the press conference announcing the renovation of the historic Salt Lake City temple in April 2019.
The announcement of a four-year closure of the great pioneer-era temple, an icon of Latter-day Saint faith, was quite damning. The media wondered: what would happen to the statue of the angel Moroni? How could workers support a £ 187million temple so they can improve foundations to withstand earthquakes? Would films replace live endowment sessions?
During the question-and-answer session after the press conference, a man attempted to draw media attention to a larger view. You’re missing the big picture, he says. The church had a grander plan for Temple Square. In fact, church leaders’ definition of what that term meant was also growing, something that remains overlooked by almost all media and church members.
“There weren’t, really, too many questions about the renovation of the plaza to the east,” said Bishop Dean M. Davies, who was then the first councilor of the presiding bishopric. “It’s also a pretty significant effort. All I would add about this is that we want to make the area of the plaza east of the temple even more public and user-friendly. There will be new rest areas and new corridors. This is something you should consider as well. It’s not just the temple, but it includes all the way to State Street. It will be an integral part of that as we bring Temple Square together into one big whole. “
He had already redefined what Temple Square is, adding an entire city block. But he hadn’t finished.
“In particular, we want to continue to emphasize that this is the house of the Savior and it is his church,” he continued. “And so we will do everything we can to introduce new thematic elements that will help visitors to Salt Lake.
“We want them to think of Salt Lake as easily as they think of Jerusalem or the Vatican as a place where Christianity really has its heart.”
Elder Davies, who had helped oversee the church’s funds and other property, humanitarian work and the purchase of land for the temples as well as their design and construction, deceased Tuesday night after a long battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
After serving as a counselor in the presiding diocese of the church from 2012 to 2020, he was called the Seventy General Authority in April 2020. He was five days away from his 70th birthday, which means he had completed his service as a seventy this summer. and would have received emeritus status in general conference next month.
He had a gift for sharing the vision and scope of projects and the gospel:
- Earlier last year, in an interview with the presidential bishopric about the finances of the church, he noted that many people neglect the church’s fast-offering program, which he says , is almost its biggest component.
“Think of the over 30,000 bishops and branch presidents,” he said, “who have access to unlimited capacity to secure the necessary resources for church members and nonmembers, alike, in their region. He added: “Our spending in this social and humanitarian field is approaching a billion dollars a year. It is a very important part of our annual budget.
- In the same interview, he shared information about how the presiding bishopric oversees the humanitarian efforts of zone presidencies and Latter-day Saint charities and its partners:
“Each international region of the church receives a budget each year to fund its own local welfare / humanitarian projects that it identifies,” he said. “Then, of course, we have the headquarters (projects). We have a screen in what we call our strategy room, and not a week goes by without us reviewing two to 10 social or humanitarian aid applications that require funding or require review. It is constant in our daily actions as a bishopric.
- At the Salt Lake City Temple Renovation press conference, he captured the imagination when he described the base insulation system that will be used to improve the temple’s foundation and protect it from tremors. earthen :
“We love this system. In fact, it is a system that is not only used for the renovation of buildings. We actually used the base insulation in the construction of the temple of Concepcion in Chile, and right before its dedication there was an earthquake and the system worked as expected. It took about 24 hours for the building to settle back onto these slabs. So we’re really, really excited about it.
“In fact, it’s closer to 70 temples that are being designed, developed and built,” said Elder Davies, who until last October was at the forefront of temple building as a member. of the presiding bishopric. “This is the most important temple building period in the history of the church.”
- In this same innovation, he described the importance of temples in the belief of Latter-day Saints:
“It’s all really part of our father’s plan to help his children know how to get home,” Elder Davies said. “Everything revolves around families. A young man and a young woman come into the temple, and they come out as husband and wife, and that changes the relationship. It adds dignity and dedication. He binds families together forever. The sealing, the ability to seal parents to children, and of course, children born to those who were married and sealed in the temple have the promises of the gospel. So it’s about families, it’s about uniting and coming together on this side of the veil and on the other.
When the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple is complete, Elder Davies will not be physically present, but his work and his words about it will always resonate. And the invitation he launched during this question-and-answer session with journalists two years ago will be fulfilled by hundreds of thousands of people:
“When this temple project is completed, it will be a wonderful and unique opportunity for you, your children, and your parents or grandparents to come to the open house. This temple has not been opened this way since it was dedicated in 1893. Truly, it is a remarkable thing when anyone, church member or not, can walk through a temple. Yes, we have these wonderful models, but they don’t really convey a real sense of the Savior’s feeling and love that exists in the temple. So let me invite you early to come to the open house.
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