April 20, 2024


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Washington DC Temple Open House To Welcome Visitors: A Look Inside

KENSINGTON, MD — To many people in the Washington region, the Washington D.C. Temple is a landmark they see when driving on the Beltway.

Usually, only members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may enter it; they use the temple for the religion’s most sacred ceremonies.

But for only the second time ever since it opened, the temple will invite the public inside during an open house.

The temple will reopen after a renovation process that started in 2018 to add energy-efficient mechanical, electrical and lighting systems and new plumbing.

Members of the public can visit the open house from April 28 to June 11. Attendance is free, but visitors must reserve shuttle or parking spaces to visit. After the temple is rededicated, it will again be open only to members of the church.

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Open House Details

The temple open house will take place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 28 through June 11, excluding Sundays. Media tours will occur on April 18, and private tours for invited guests will happen April 19 to April 27.

Tours are free with a shuttle or parking reservation. Only one ticket is required per vehicle. The shuttle is available by reservation from the Forest Glen Metro station on the Red Line. Visitors who arrive by foot, public transit, taxi or ride-sharing will not need a ticket.

The open house will be followed by a free temple rededication concert at 7 p.m. June 11 at the Annandale Stake Center, 3900 Howard St., Annandale, Virginia, and at 7 p.m. June 12 at the Stake Center, 10000 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington, Maryland.

The official rededication will take place on Aug. 14. Information for church members will become available through their local stakes.

The temple is located at 9900 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington, Maryland. To reserve open house tickets and find out more, visit dctemple.org/open-house.

History Of The Temple

The open house is a significant time for local church members to show others why the temple is so sacred to them. It’s the first time in nearly 50 years nonmembers can see inside.

“It’s an exciting time for all of us. The temple has been here since 1974,” Elder Jack Gerard told Patch on what the open house means to members.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a denomination of Christianity organized in 1830 by Joseph Smith in the state of New York, established its first Washington congregation in 1920, followed by the first meeting house in 1933.

The religion had five congregations by 1938: Washington; Fairview, Pennsylvania; Baltimore; Chevy Chase, Maryland; and Arlington, Virginia. By 1940, the first stake was formed, creating a unit of six congregations similar to a diocese. Additional stakes were formed as membership continued to grow.

To serve members on the East Coast as well as some in South America and Canada, the church announced it would build the Washington temple in 1968 and dedicated it in 1974. It became the 16th operating temple of the church and the first east of the Mississippi River since the Nauvoo Temple in Illinois.

Today, there are 173 temples around the world, including more in the eastern U.S., as well as in Canada and Mexico and in Central America, the Caribbean and South America.

More than 120,000 members use the Washington D.C. Temple and travel from the district, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Membership is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and gender, with Spanish-speaking and young-adult single groups present in the Washington region, Gerard said.

At 288 feet, the temple is the tallest of the Latter-day Saints temples worldwide.

The Washington D.C. Temple is seen during construction in the 1970s. The statue of angel Moroni is now located on one of six spires atop the Temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Uses Of The Temple

So what purpose do temples serve to Latter-day Saints? Members normally have Sunday worship at their local meeting houses, and temples are considered the most sacred places where ceremonies called ordinances are performed.

These include baptisms that members receive by proxy for deceased relatives, marriage ceremonies, endowment ceremonies and the sealing of families.

The temples are only open to the public during open houses after they are built or renovated. After a temple is dedicated by the church, the public can visit the grounds and visitor’s center but not the interior of the temple.

“There is nothing secret about what we do, but we consider it to be very sacred,” Gerard said.

A Look Inside The Washington D.C. Temple

When the public gets a glimpse inside the seven-story temple, they will learn about the use of different rooms.

“From the outside, everyone sees [the temple] on the Beltway, and it’s bright at night, and it’s beautiful. But it’s even more beautiful on the inside,” said David Oryang, a church leader in the Woodbridge stake, in a news release.

Visitors will enter the temple, continue past the reception desk and cross an interior bridge into the temple itself. Church members consider this a “departure from the cares of the world toward celestial tranquility,” according to the church website. Images of Jesus are displayed prominently as visitors cross the bridge into the rotunda.

Entry bridge in the Washington D.C. Temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Rotunda in the temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The baptistry is located on the temple’s lower floors. Members are typically baptized in their local meeting houses rather than in temples; the temple baptistry is used for members who wish to be baptized by proxy for their dead relatives.

Members change into white clothing provided by the temple for the baptism of relatives who died without being baptized into the church. Through baptism by proxy, members believe their relatives can accept Jesus. The baptismal font is featured above 12 oxen, which represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

Baptistry in the temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

In the temple, members use six instruction rooms “to learn about God’s creation, the purpose of life, and how to become more like Him and His Son, Jesus Christ,” according to the church website.

One of the six instruction rooms in the temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

As visitors travel between floors of the temple, there are stained glass windows in the east and west towers. These stained glass windows were removed, cleaned and reinstalled piece by piece during the renovation process. The same artisans who made the stained glass conducted the renovation work.

Stained glass in the temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Another ordinance performed in temples is the marriage ceremony. In sealing rooms, a bride and groom kneel at an altar and make a commitment for eternity, which is different from the traditional “til’ death do us part” marriages. Sealing rooms can be used for the ordinance of sealing children to their parents for eternity.

There are 10 sealing rooms in the temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The bride has a brides room to prepare for the marriage ceremony. The groom would normally use a men’s locker room. The temple’s brides room has a touch of local flavor, with a cherry blossom-patterned carpet.

Brides room in temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The assembly room is used for senior church leaders to meet with local church members. The temple’s assembly room is meant to look like a 19th-century temple.

Assembly room inside the temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Visiting the celestial room is considered “the ultimate progression one can achieve toward heaven itself,” according to the church’s website. The room features 12 chandeliers, along with a larger, central Austrian-made crystal chandelier. Members typically stay silent in this space for prayer or reflection.

Celestial room in the temple. (Courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The temple’s exterior is made of Alabama white marble. Production of the marble used in the temple’s original construction had ceased, but reopening of a marble quarry in 2016 allowed the church to buy stone matching the exterior.

A highlight of the exterior is the temple’s six spires, mirroring the design of the church’s Salt Lake Temple. The three temples on the eastern side and three on the western side represent the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, the Church’s two branches of leadership. The tallest spire features the 18-foot sculpture of angel Moroni made by Avard Fairbanks.

(Emily Leayman/Patch)

Outside the temple, plants and trees add vibrancy to the landscape.

(Emily Leayman/Patch)