Temple architecture

Washington DC Temple reopens to public in ‘lighthouse moment’ for Latter-day Saints

Kensington, MD. • The Washington DC Temple, the tallest among The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temples and one of its most prestigious, opened Monday to nonmembers for the first time in nearly half a century.

Senior church officials greeted the media to highlight a renovation that began four years ago. Private tours for guests will continue until April 27. Then, from April 28, hundreds of thousands of church members and the general public are expected to visit the temple ahead of the August 14 rededication of the six-spired white marble edifice, which adjoins the capital ring road.

“This is a defining moment for the church,” said Patrick Mason, head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University. This gives the church a chance to demystify what is going on in the temple, which is generally closed to all but Latter-day Saints in good standing.

When the temple opened in 1974, it was the first on the East Coast and marked the church’s diaspora beyond the Rocky Mountains, and soon after internationally, said Kathleen Flake, professor of Mormon Studies at the University of Virginia. It also meant a new status for the Utah-based faith in the center of political power in the country.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The Washington DC Temple in Kensington, Md.

“The temple represents something of his Americanness. He has a cultural identity as well as his religious identity,” Flake said. “Placing a temple in Washington, D.C. is an important marker of the church’s maturity and cultural acceptance.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who attended Monday’s visit, called the temple an “iconic landmark” and a “beacon of hope.” He also praised the church for working with state officials to encourage community service.

Why Latter-day Saints Build Temples

The temple measures 156,558 square feet on 52 acres in Kensington, Maryland. Church architect John McConkie and CRSA Architects led the architectural efforts of the renovation. Some of the work includes updated lighting for the interior glass representation of the Tree of Life and the restoration of the exterior bronze doors with medallions depicting planets and stars in concentric circles representing eternity.

“The structure has been strengthened so that it’s like a metaphor that we would like to share with you today,” Reyna Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency for women, said Monday. “It’s so similar to what happens with us as human beings. We believe that people too can be renewed, that we can change, that our hearts can change when we dedicate our lives to love and service. others.

By the numbers

1974 • Original dedication of the Washington DC Temple.

14-8-2022 • Rededication ceremony.

1,800 • Workers and artisans on site.

288 • Feet tall, including the 18-foot golden statue of Angel Moroni.

750,000 • Number of people who visited the temple before its initial dedication in 1974.

18,500 • Pieces of stained glass removed and then reinstalled in two 125-foot windows during the renovation.

52 • Acres of property. The land has 260 newly planted trees, 5,073 shrubs and 3,911 perennials.

100 • Languages ​​to choose from for instruction inside the temple.

Latter-day Saints view a temple as a house of the Lord, a place where they can partake in the highest rites of their faith, including eternal marriage.

Apostle David A. Bednar noted that the temple is a place to leave earthly distractions (including cell phones) behind. Believers wear simple white clothes. Bednar says he even leaves his watch behind to better enjoy the serenity. In their white clothes, a CEO and a garbage truck driver can sit side by side without distinction, Bednar said, equal in the sight of God.

(Tamara Lytle | Special for The Tribune) Reyna Aburto, left, second counselor to the general Relief Society presidency; Maryland Governor Larry Hogan; Anne Golightly, church public affairs; Apostle David A. Bednar; Rev. Amos Brown, NAACP Board Member; Apostle Gerrit W. Gong; and Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.

Members, through tithing donations, funded the renovation, which began in 2018, was completed in 2020 just as COVID-19 was hitting the world. The reopening was delayed due to the pandemic. Bednar declined to say how much it cost.

Dan Holt, the church’s project manager for the massive effort, said in an interview that the grounds were redone and the mechanical, plumbing, electrical and other systems were updated.

“All systems were 50 years old and at the end of their useful life,” Holt said. It gave crews the ability, he said, to update interiors, such as adding three miles of Alabama white marble baseboards to echo the exterior, which in turn echoes the monuments of the nearby capital.

“The idea for the renovation was to restore it to its original intent,” Holt said, “only better.”

Features inside the temple

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The bridal chamber in the newly renovated Washington DC Temple.

This meant ditching the blue shag rug of the 1970s, but retaining the clean geometric aesthetic of mid-century modern design. Gothic arches are worked into marble altars, metal staircases and wooden doors to carry the motif of gazing skyward.

A serene color palette of beiges, pale yellows, grays, light greens, white marble and gold leaf are present throughout the temple. Sparkling chandeliers from Swarovski got new crystals made in Austria, and church volunteers worked together in groups to put them in the fixtures, said Emily Utt, the church’s historic sites curator.

Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, said she loved the symbolism of 18,500 stained glass windows removed from windows and individually restored.

“Each of us,” she says, “reflects light in a different way.”

The seven floors are divided into intimate rooms to handle the primary functions of the temple: baptizing deceased ancestors by proxy, educating members, and sealing families together for eternity. Bednar and other church leaders said they are excited to show the public what they are doing inside to dispel rumors and untruths about their faith.

“They’ve been walking past them for 40 to 50 years,” Holt said, “and when they walk in, they’ll be surprised that it’s a more intimate space than they expected.”

(Tamara Lytle | Special for The Tribune) The renovated Washington DC temple is adorned with spring flowers as media rounds begin Monday, April 18, 2022.

The Washington DC Temple shares some characteristics with the treasured Salt Lake Temple, which is undergoing a five-year renovation and seismic upgrade. Both buildings have six spiers and similar footprints.

“It was intended to be so,” Holt explained in a press release, “with the idea that the Salt Lake Temple represented the foundation of the church and the Washington, D.C. Temple represented the future. Church International”.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The Heavenly Room of the newly renovated Washington DC Temple.