KENSINGTON, Md. — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Washington D.C. Temple may be a beacon of hope for tens of thousands of members in the DMV, but for people on the outside, the structure reaching nearly 300 feet has been shrouded in mystery for decades.
The temple, known for its towering spires and gold-covered angel overlooking the Beltway, recently completed mechanical and electrical renovations that began in 2018. Before the 156,000-square-foot building is set to be re-dedicated, church leaders decided to open their doors to the public for the first time in its 50-year history.
The open house is set to begin on Thursday, April 28 until June 11. Prior to the public tours, high-ranking elders from Utah flew in to provide members of the media a tour of the property.
They hope by providing an open invitation, non-members will see what happens in the temple is not a secret, but more so sacred.
"I think people are curious and interested to find out what we do," Elder David Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told WUSA9. "I hope people will take away that it's not about the building. As they come in and see what we do, they'll see that this is the house of the Lord. This is a place we consider to be holy. This is where we receive our faith's most sacred commitments and covenants."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was also in attendance to help start the tours the Monday after Easter.
"It has been a beacon of hope to more than 40,000 Marylanders who are members of this church," Hogan said.
The temple is made up of seven floors with a white marble base, gold leaf decorative work lining the walls, beveled cut glass fixtures, vinyl or silk walls, and original artwork.
Project manager Dan Holt emphasized the simple yet profound designs with a midcentury modern appearance.
Often times people who haven't been to the temple before may be surprised by is the feeling of an intimate space. Almost all finishes are new in the building, but the feel of the temple is largely the same.
"Oftentimes people who haven't been to the temple before may be surprised the feeling of an intimate space," Holt added.
The roughly one-hour tour took the group up the towering staircase lined with glasswork re-polished for the reopening.
The baptistry has a baptismal font on top of 12 life-size oxen statues that give members to get baptized on behalf of ancestors. Church leaders say it is a "free-will offering" for people who died in their family that did not get a chance to get baptized.
The more subdued Sealing Room is a space where couples get married. One of the most majestic spaces in the temple is the Celestial Room, a high-vaulted room for members to reflect and sit in peace.
The Instruction Room is where members learn about God's plan and make covenants. The Dressing Room is where members have lockers to change from their outside clothes into a white garment.
Anyone can attend the open house Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Parking and shuttle tickets are required to park in the lot or use the shuttle. To learn more, click on this link.