Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined community and civic officials to break ground for Utah’s newest temple in Cedar City in the southern part of the state.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy presided at the ceremony. He was joined by Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Temple Department and Elder Dane Leavitt of the Seventy.

Elder Clayton reflected on the pioneer families that settled this area of southern Utah. “As we break ground, symbolically today, we remember the founders of Cedar City 167 years ago and remember the broken picks and broken shovels. We stand on their shoulders. They endured much to prepare the area’s foundation for a city they would never see.”

One 87 year old Latter-day Saint is excited to have a historical connection to the property on which the new temple will be built. Madelon J. Payne’s parents homesteaded more than 1,200 acres in Cedar City in 1917, and 7.3 acres of that will be used for the temple. “It is so wonderful to be here for the groundbreaking,” she said. “The Lord worked the whole thing out, so it [the property] would be ready for the temple almost a century after my parents homesteaded.”

Latter-day Saints were able to watch the groundbreaking ceremony from meetinghouses in the area.

“His spirit will be here,” said Elder Richards. “His spirit will emanate from this edifice throughout this community.”

Elder Dane Leavitt of the Seventy said looking ahead to the construction is the time for Latter-day Saints to prepare for the temple’s completion. “Across the months ahead may we prepare ourselves as the temple is being built. We will witness walls being put up; may we build walls ourselves to resist evil.”

The temple was announced at the Church’s April 2013 general conference.

The temple will be located at 300 South Cove Drive in Cedar City.

After completion, open house dates will be announced so the public can tour the temple before it is dedicated. A date for dedication will also be announced.

There are currently 173 temples throughout the world either in operation, under construction or announced. Five are being renovated.

For more information about temples, visit www.mormontemples.org. The site includes general information on temples, the history of the Church and the purpose of temples. This site will also provide specific information about the Cedar City Utah Temple as it becomes available.