ST. GEORGE — A St. George couple has been called to serve as the first president and matron of the Red Cliffs Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to a Church News announcement published in the Deseret News on Thursday.
John Ence and his wife Debra Houston Ence were among three other couples the Church News announced are to serve as new temple presidents starting in September or when their respective temples will be dedicated. The other temples are located in Texas, El Salvador and Brazil.
As detailed in the Church News report, John Ence is a retired contractor and developer whose church service has included time as a ward mission leader, Area Seventy, president of the Australia Brisbane Mission, a stake president, a high councilor and a bishop.
Debra Houston Ence has served as a Relief Society teacher, stake Young Women presidency councilor, stake Primary presidency counselor and temple ordinance worker.
The Ences’ call to serve at the Red Cliffs Temple comes a year after St. George residents Keith Ray Reber and Stephanie Kay Millett Reber were appointed as the president and matron of the St. George Temple.
So far no dates have been given for the reopening of the St. George Temple, which has been under renovation since 2019, or the dedication of the Red Cliffs Temple.
The Church News is an official publication of the LDS church through Deseret News, which is also owned by the church.
Ground was broken for the temple Nov. 7, 2020 with construction slated to end later this year.
Latter-day Saint temples are considered “Houses of the Lord” for members of the faith and are among their most sacred places of worship.
While all are welcome to attend Sunday worship services and other weekday activities at local meetinghouses, the primary purpose of temples is for faithful church members to participate in ceremonies related to marriage as well as proxy baptisms and other ordinances on behalf of deceased ancestors.
Temples also are central to the church’s longstanding doctrine related to the “eternal nature of the family,” which teaches a family unit can be “sealed” together for eternity in the afterlife. The eternal binding of the family can extend back through the generations, which is why Latter-day Saints place heavy emphasis on genealogical research. It allows them to find ancestors whose names they can take to a temple where proxy ceremonies on behalf of that ancestor can be performed.
The temples also are considered a place Latter-day Saints can go to find peace and comfort in the face of difficult times or trying decisions as they seek to connect with the Almighty.
Ed. Note: A previous version of this story mistakenly reported that the dedication of the Red Cliffs Temple would take place in September. No date yet has been announced by the LDS church.
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