KENSINGTON, Md. — Rev. David Collins was a fifth-grade student at a Catholic parochial school in northern Virginia when the Washington, DC Temple opened to the public for six weeks in 1974.
“I remember the social studies teacher talking very excitedly about being able to go back and forth and telling us stories about it, so in a way, since I was in fifth grade, I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to take a look,” said Collins, a Jesuit priest and history teacher.
Since 1974, the DC monument has been closed to the public, reserved as a sacred space for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now, after 48 years, the freshly renovated temple is once again open to everyone for the next few weeks.
On Monday, 150 reporters from outlets like the New York Times and Fox News visited the temple and began posting, publishing and broadcasting stories about the open house, which begins April 28 and ends June 11.
The Washington Post quoted Governor Larry Hogan and several church leaders in its coverage of Monday’s press conferences and temple visits.
“I’ve been walking past it almost every day since 1974, and (I’ve had) the opportunity to get inside and see what it’s all about. I mean, it’s not just about the building, it’s about what’s going on there,” Hogan said.
“It’s a place for reflection, whatever your faith,” Hogan told The Washington Times.
Hundreds of thousands of locals, political and business leaders, influencers, interfaith friends and others are eager to see inside the temple before it closes to the public again in June. . Several governors participated in a special tour during national meetings of governors.
On Tuesday, Reverend Collins joined a special tour with other Jesuit professors at one of DC’s renowned local universities. The temple’s visitor center was buzzing with activity as guests arrived and completed tours. More than 4,100 special guests responded to the invitation to visit the temple this week and early next week before the public open house begins.
“When the invitation came through fellow Latter-day Saints at Georgetown University, I immediately signed up,” he said. “It’s a very, very busy time this semester, and it was worth it,” said Rev. Collins. “Student papers can wait.”
He said the visit lived up to his expectations, even after waiting almost five decades. One reason was his experiences with a Latter-day Saint roommate, friends, and graduate school colleagues.
“To be able to get that extra dimension in what their life of faith is by seeing the space that they worship in, I would say that’s the best part of everything.”
Reverend Collins said the renovated temple was magnificent.
“The celestial chamber is a beautiful room, very conducive to contemplation,” he said. “And the same with the baptismal room.”
Journalists who attended Monday’s media day began posting their stories yesterday and continued posting them on Tuesday.
“I was surprised that the temple was not centered on a large meeting area like other places of worship,” an Axios reporter wrote. “Instead, there are many halls which are used for different ceremonies such as marriage and baptism.
Bethesda Magazine reported that David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told his reporter that the goal of the upcoming open house was to be transparent about activities inside the temple.
“You’ve seen the tall spiers and the golden angel that’s towered over I-495 for decades,” a WUSA news anchor said of that CBS station’s coverage.
“From the outside,” said journalist Matthew Torres, “the building is grand, immaculate and pristine, and when you enter it’s the same. On a rare occasion, we get a glimpse of one of DMV’s most sacred monuments (District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia).
Torres shared excerpts from his exclusive interviews with church leaders.
“It is an invitation to leave the hustle and bustle, to leave the rush hour (of the Capitol Beltway) to come to a place of transcendent peace,” said Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“I think people are curious and want to know what we’re doing,” Elder Bednar said. “That’s what we hope people will find, that they will see Christ in all that we do in the House of the Lord.
The Washington DC Temple Open House begins April 28 and runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except Sundays, through June 11. Free tickets are required to book a tour. Tickets are available at dctemple.org/open-house.
“Once that’s finished and that door closes,” Torres said in his report, “it won’t reopen until the next round of renovations, which could take half a century.”