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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holy Logs: "Lumber for the Lord"

Until recently, I lived in the Kansas City area for several years. Naturally, I was excited when the Kansas City, Missouri temple was announced. Pictures of an artist's rendition of the temple were made available at church by the stake several weeks ago. The picture hasn't been placed online or made available through the online store yet. The pictures were circulating freely amongst the members though. See picture from the article below. (See this unofficial site for information as well as construction photos.) 
An article entitled, "Lumber for the Lord: Metro-east carpenter was 'awed and humbled' to cut for Mormon Temple" in a southwestern Illinois and St. Louis area news site caught my attention.


J.R. Potthast, a Catholic, was secured to cut the lumber for the temple. He seems to have taken his responsibility quite seriously. Here is a collection of quotes from the article:
In the beginning, J.R. Potthast saw it as just another job. But the metro-east carpenter later learned that this order would literally be a mission ...from God. "It was quite an experience," Potthast said. "I was awed and humbled by it."
"They are very, very particular with who is making these temples," Potthast said. "They are magnificent structures. They are built to last, maybe centuries."
The lumber business has been the Potthast family speciality since 1912. 
His body of work and his experience and expertise in sawing lumber with a rift saw into precise cuts impressed the Mormons. Apparently, Potthast was the answer to their prayers.
"It was all white oak, and it is the real good kind," he said of the lumber he cut. "There are 13 different kinds of white oak that grows in the Midwest, and they have the best kind. It has a pink tone to it and lightens when it dries. But after it's cut, it is a pink tone when it's fresh."
The foundation of the new temple had been poured and steel beams were already in place by the time Potthast arrived at the site. He proceeded to cut boards as wide as 30 inches with thicknesses ranging from a quarter of an inch to 8 inches.

By the time the sawdust had settled, Potthast had cut 26,300 board feet of lumber.
J. R. Potthast summary of his part in temple building is especially touching: 
"It's quite a religious experience," he said. "To me, it seems almost like God was involved in this."

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