Temple Square as seen from the 26th floor of the Church Administration Building. To the right, the dome-shaped building is the Mormon Tabernacle, home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; to the left and rear of the Temple is the Assembly Building, used for small conferences and meetings.
In the courtyard at the front of the Temple, a wedding is being celebrated.
The Angel Moroni can barely be seen at the top of the center tower of the Temple.
At the front of the Temple, construction of a plaza is taking place. Salt Lake City is undergoing considerable construction as the century ends, partly in preparation for the Winter Olympics.
The Salt Lake Temple is the largest of all the LDS temples.
Two religious denominations, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Unitarian Universalist, radically different in practice and purpose (as well as in their opinions about angels) are eternally linked by a Unitarian artist, Cyrus Dallin.
Dallin, born November 22, 1861, in Springville, Utah, is perhaps best known for his statue of Paul Revere that stands in front of Boston's Old North Church. His father and uncle were both excommunicated by the Mormon Church, the former for supporting a non-Mormon Liberal party candidate and the latter for attempting to sell alcohol in his dry goods store. Dallin left Utah for Boston in 1880 to pursue his artistic aspirations. In Boston, he met and married his wife, Vittoria, and they moved back to Utah for a short time.
During their stay in Utah, Dallin created a bust of L.D.S. president Wilford Woodruff. Pleased with the bust, Woodruff invited Dallin to sculpt the Angel Moroni (pronounced more-oh-nigh) for the nearly completed Salt Lake Temple. According to the Mormons, the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon religion) and revealed the buried plates upon which the book of Mormon had been engraved. Dallin refused at first, declaring that he was neither a Mormon nor a believer in angels.
Ultimately, Dallin agreed to the project and completed the plaster model on October 4, 1891, the same year that the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City was organized.
The statue adorning the temple is 12.5 feet high and is cast in 22-karat gold leaf. The angel faces east, toward the Rocky Mountains, blowing a trumpet.
Although Dallin always felt Mormonism presented too many intermediaries between God and himself, his angel remains a mighty symbol in Utah.
By Rev. Thomas Goldsmith, minister of the First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. From The World, Journal of the Unitarian Universalist Association, March/April 1991.