For the first time in five decades, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints Temple of Washington, D.C., whose familiar spires light up the Capital Beltway nightscape, will be open to the public.
Located in Kensington, Maryland, 750,000 toured through the 156,558-square-foot temple the last time it was open for general viewing from September 17 to October 19, 1974. It was dedicated in November that year.
Once an LDS temple is opened, only members in good standing are permitted to enter. According to the official LDS websites, “For faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a temple is the most sacred place of worship on earth—it is the house of the Lord. It is a place set apart from the rest of the world where members can draw closer to God.”
“When a temple is first built, it is briefly open for public tours. Once dedicated, attendance is reserved for faithful members of the Church who are ready to participate in additional gospel ordinances (though the grounds around the temple remain open to the public).”
Ahead of the open house tours which will be available from April 28 to June 11, last week Church leaders began a series of special tours where they welcomed members of the press, officials, and other invited guests.
According to the Washington Post, the tour began “by walking across a bridge from the entry room into the temple—a symbol, church leaders said, of leaving the world behind to enter the holy place. The structure is built with such symbolism in mind, intended to reflect the path of growing closer to God and uniting the familial unit.”
“It symbolizes a journey,” said Elder Bednar. “Ultimately, we will end up in a room called the Celestial Room. That’s representative of our heavenly home, returning back to the presence of our Heavenly Father.”
"This is a great occasion for us to open the doors of the temple for our friends, members of the Washington, D.C., community, people and partners of all faiths and backgrounds to come and join us and to experience the beauty and peace that is the temple of the Lord,” said Aaron Sherinian, director of media for the temple open house committee.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was one of the officials invited to tour April 18. He spoke of driving past the temple nearly every day since 1974. “It’s a reflective kind of place, regardless of what your faith is,” he said.
Cardinal Wilton Daniel Gregory, Presbyterian Archbishop of Washington, D.C., called the temple a “prayerful place.” Reverend Amos C. Brown of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco called it a “superlative embodiment of spirituality in America.”
Images of the temple have been published by media including these on the website of the FOX D.C. affiliate.
Tickets to tour during the open house and more information on the temple is available at churchofjesuschristtemples.org.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.