- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2022

The two-month open house for the recently refurbished Washington Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be extended by nearly two months, the faith’s leaders said Friday.

The open house period — the only time nonmembers can set foot in the imposing structure that dominates a stretch of the Capital Beltway in Kensington, Maryland — will still begin in April, but will continue past a previously expected June stop date.

According to a church statement, “We are inspired by and grateful for the response of friends, neighbors and Church members to the invitation to ‘come and see’ the renovated temple. Within two weeks of the announcement, nearly 50% of the available parking reservations were filled, and many more people have expressed interest.”

The rededication of the structure, which members of the LDS Church consider to be the “House of the Lord,” will take place on Sunday, Aug. 14. A youth devotional will take place the previous day.

Church officials did not disclose a stop date for the public tours, which take place only before a temple is dedicated — or in this case — rededicated following a renovation. Previously, the open house was scheduled to end 15 days before the rededication.

“We are grateful for the overwhelming interest in the Washington D.C. Temple open house events and continue to invite all to visit the temple and learn of its beauty and importance,” LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring wrote in a letter to members. “The previously announced start date for the open house will continue as planned, with the open house being extended and more reservation times being added as needed.”

A six-spired edifice of Alabama marble towering over a heavily trafficked curve of the Beltway, the temple closed in March 2018 for renovations. The 160,000-square-foot, 288-foot-high building first opened in 1974. 

Parking and transportation reservations for the open house can be made by visiting www.DCTemple.org, the group said. Tickets are not required, they noted.

At the time of the original dedication in 1974, it was the first modern temple constructed east of the Mississippi River. For several years, it was the only one on the East Coast. A church website indicates that then-first lady Betty Ford took a tour during the first open house.

It was the first LDS temple to feature six spires since the construction of the Salt Lake Temple, the website said, adding that with a height of 288 feet, it is the church’s tallest temple.

The temples are not regular places of weekly worship for LDS Church members. In fact, the structures are closed on Sundays, when members of the 320 congregations in the D.C. temple’s area attend services. Instead, they are spaces where sacramental rites including “endowment,” similar to confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church; “sealing” of marriages for eternity; and proxy baptisms — which Mormons believe allow deceased ancestors an opportunity to hear the LDS message in the afterlife — are performed.

The LDS leadership, known as the First Presidency, did not announce who will rededicate the structure, only saying more details “will be announced at a future date.”

Correction: The first name of LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson was misspelled in a previous version of this story.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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