Soil and Spirituality
Zac Roberts is a familiar face at the Brigham City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He can often be seen digging in the rich soil around the massive flowerbeds or pruning the numerous fruit trees that surround the grounds.
Roberts is the temple’s groundkeeper, a position he has held since the temple opened. It is a labor of love, the Brigham City man claims.
“The spirit here is so special,” he said. “You can feel it the minute you step foot on the grounds. This temple is special; different in a good way, and so special.”
Roberts is in a position to compare that unique feeling. He actually started his grounds keeping career at the Logan Temple while attending Utah State University. Studying to be a landscape architect, he and his wife were renting apartment and soon learned the landlord worked on the grounds at the Logan Temple. With his attraction to landscaping, the two had much in common. She soon asked if he would be interested in working at the temple as a summer job.
Roberts didn’t hesitate. “Of course, I said yes.” For four summers he planted, pruned, potted and perfected the sloping lawns, groves of trees and colorful flowers that add to the beauty of that sacred oasis in the heart of Logan.
Graduation gave Roberts a degree in his chosen profession, but it also meant he would be looking for a fulltime job. Call it luck or divine intervention, but the temple’s assistant groundskeeper position came available at the same time. Roberts applied and was hired.
He made the move from assistant groundskeeper and Logan to head groundskeeper and Brigham City in July of 2012, when he was hired to oversee the Brigham City Temple’s grounds still in their infancy.
“It was the tail end of construction, just before the open houses,” Roberts recalled. “I got to experience it all from the temple standpoint, not the visitor standpoint.”
Two years later he still cannot believe his good fortune. “It’s being able to work with my hands, work outside,” he said. “Then seeing the result of your work is gratifying.”
While he has a strong hand in what is planted where, Roberts is the first to say he does not do it alone. Even with about a dozen assistants who are specifically called to work on the ground, “this temple is almost completely run by volunteers,” he said, noting that of the temple’s 11 employees, he is the only paid outside help. “Everything else is done by volunteers.”
Unlike those who work inside the temple, grounds help does not need to have a temple recommend or even be a member, Roberts said. “A few nonmembers have come here to help and left feeling the spirit. It is strong here and people acknowledge that.”
The full story can be found in the LDS Living supplement in this week’s Leader.