Danielle Tumminio, an episcopal priest, took the opportunity to attend the Kansas City Mormon temple open house. She knew something about the tumultuous history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (frequently misnamed the Mormon Church) in Missouri, and she was struck by the determination of Latter-day Saints to return and build a temple. About 175 years ago, Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) were forced out of the state of Missouri by an extermination order from the governor. In the early 1900s, Latter-day Saints began to slowly return to the area, despite the persisting misunderstandings and prejudices against them.
Now, enough Latter-day Saints have gathered again in the area, that they are erecting a Mormon temple.
Latter-day Saints consider their temples the most sacred places on the earth. Access is limited to faithful members of the Church who adhere to the faith and live a very high standard of values. However, before a new temple is dedicated, it is open to the public for viewing during an open house which generally lasts about two to three weeks.
Tumminio did not want to miss her opportunity to see a Mormon temple and gain a better understanding of what they are used for. She was motivated both by the prominent place Mormonism has held in the news lately as well as her own curiosity.
She asked herself a couple of questions before attending the open house:
What does a Mormon temple look like, and what happens inside it?
Would I feel God’s presence in this space, even though it’s not a space that’s sacred for me?
Tumminio stressed that she did not feel any pressure from the volunteers present at the open house to convert to the faith. She noticed that everyone was welcoming and kind, and dressed very nicely. The volunteers offered free guided tours, bent down to put on protective booties (which all visitors wear to protect the inside from getting dirty), and offered her a cookie at the end. She was able to see every part of the temple from the changing rooms to the Celestial Room (the most sacred room in any temple). She was impressed by the volunteers’ openness and willingness to answer every question she asked—even the controversial ones.
Tumminio accurately perceived that Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) go to the temple to be close to God, just like Jews did in Jerusalem before the temple was destroyed. While Latter-day Saints attend the temple for a variety reasons (weddings, baptisms for the dead, the sealing of families, etc.), all of them are sacred and involve covenants made with God. One of the most important of these ceremonies, or rites, is that of the Mormon temple endowment. This is a time when faithful Latter-day Saints make promises to God, are promised blessings according to their faithfulness, and learn more about their relationship to God.
On her visit, Tumminio noticed that Mormon temples, unlike cathedrals, are separated into smaller rooms which serve different purposes, as outlined above. In the final room, the Celestial Room, Tumminio had a sacred experience. She proceeded through some of the instruction rooms, ascending a step after each (a total of three rooms), before ending up in the Celestial Room, “a space designed to give those who sit in it a foretaste of heaven,” as Tumminio said.
Like Dante, who saw God face to face but had no words to describe the encounter, I have few words to describe what I felt in that moment. But I can say this: While it did not convert me, nor did it make me want to be a Mormon, the silence and peace I felt reminded me of the many other times I’ve felt close to God, whether in an Episcopal cathedral, in a clear, warm ocean or in my ratty old car. And because of that, I came to understand why temples exist and why they are so important to Mormons across the world.
It is a wonderful effect of Mormon temple open houses that people have experiences similar to Tumminio, helping to dispel long-held doubts and suspicions towards Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”). When a person visits a temple, the spirit of God is there. It does not have to convert them for others to feel of the sacredness that is there, just like a Latter-day Saint can feel the spirit of God in a Catholic cathedral.
More about Mormon Temples
The Kansas City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the Mormon Church) has opened its doors to citizens who wish to take a tour. Each Mormon temple has an open house before its dedication to allow members of the community to come and see what a Mormon temple is like and to ask questions.
This week, CNN reporter Brian Todd was taken on a tour by Elder William R. Walker of the Church’s First Quorum of the Seventy. Todd remarked, “It’s unmistakable, rising up like a castle from the rolling prairie, the gold-leafed statue of the Angel Moroni adorning its main spire. The new Mormon temple in Kansas City symbolizes a rare pattern at a time when many faiths see their numbers in North America shrinking.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints never starts construction on a building unless it has all the funds up front to cover the cost. Mormon temples are the most sacred buildings in the religion, and no expense is spared in the construction, because Latter-day Saints believe that temples are literally houses of the Lord, and the Lord deserves the best.
There are now 137 Mormon temples in operation, with 30 more currently under construction. “The purpose of the temple is not for a big meeting,” Elder Walker said. “We have other chapels and throughout the church and throughout the world, assembly halls and meeting halls. But when we come to the temple, this is more for private and individual communion.”
Todd said, “We saw sealing rooms, where weddings take place; an instruction room with a mural depicting earth, as Mormons believe, just after creation; and the pristine ‘celestial room,’ the most sacred space inside, for reflection and meditation complete with crystal chandeliers. This is the biggest room you’ll find in the temple. There’s no large sanctuary.”
The open house is scheduled through April 28. Church President Thomas S. Monson will formally dedicate the temple on May 6.
Kansas City Star reports “137th Mormon Temple Awaits 75,000 Visitors for Public Viewing”
People wanting to obtain tickets for the Kansas City Missouri Mormon Temple open house overwhelmed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ reservation-making capabilities.  The open house was scheduled for April 7–21, 2012. The temple was scheduled to be open daily, except on Sundays. Open house reservations were available in two ways, on the internet or by telephone:
- Visit mormontemples.org/kansascity or
www.ldschurchtemples.com/kansas city or
- Call 1-866-537-8457 or 1-801-570-0080.
Representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked for patience.
“We are thrilled and pleased that there are so many people who want to come to the temple open house,” said Janeen Aggen, a Kansas City area LDS Church public affairs representative.
“We are responding as quickly as possible.”
If you would like to attend the open house, but you are wondering what to expect, here is a list of brief guidelines:
- Plan to arrive early to allow time for traffic and parking your vehicle.
- Open house tours will begin in the tents adjacent to the temple, where a 10-minute video will be presented. This video will provide an overview of temples and why they are significant to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Following the video, a tour host will escort you to the temple. As you walk through the temple, the tour host will explain the purpose of each room, answering questions as time allows.
- Guests with an official disability plate or placard or those who need wheelchairs or other assistance will be directed to parking near the temple entrance. A limited number of wheelchairs are available at the temple.
- After concluding the tour, you are invited to return to the tents for light refreshments and to have any further questions answered.
- Children of all ages, including children in strollers, are welcome.
An Episcopal Priest attended the temple open house. Read her impressions.
By Valerie F.
Many years ago I had an experience in the St. Louis Temple that changed my perspective on life in an extraordinary and unforgettable way. Before I share this story with you, I would like to explain a little about temples. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Nickname: Mormons) believe temples are sacred places where we make promises to God and perform sacred ordinances pertaining to our salvation as individuals and as families. As stated on www.mormon.org, “Anciently, the Lord directed Solomon to build a temple (1 Chronicles 28:1–6).This temple was a place where God could dwell, was a place of prayer, was a place of sacrifice, and was a place where the principle and covenant of sacrifice was fundamental to worship.”
Mormons continue to believe in the need for temples as directed by the Lord today. We go to the temple to learn, to receive sacred ordinances, to get married for time and for eternity, to be sealed to our families forever, to renew our covenants, and to do temple work for and in behalf of deceased family members in ordinances such as baptisms by proxy. Read more about temples.
Now to my story which I have received permission from my father to share. Several years ago my husband, our young son ,and I were visiting family in Missouri. One evening, we were planning to go to the St. Louis Temple together. Sadly, at the time, my father was in a manic state due to his bipolar disorder. His doctors had yet to find the best medication or set of medications to help keep it under control. It was the worst I had ever seen him. My heart was broken for him. That evening as I went to bed, my pillow became soaked in tears. I was frightened. I was afraid for my father and what could happen if this manic state was not treated properly.
The next morning as we drove to the temple together as a family, there was a palpable anxiety in the air as we were all concerned for my dad. In the past, I always knew that the moment I walked inside those temple doors, I would feel some measure of peace because I always had, even on those not-so-good days. But I wasn’t sure about this time, not under these circumstances. I was wrong. This time that feeling of serenity when walking through the doors was unbelievable. I literally looked down at the floor to see if my feet were touching the ground. The Spirit of the Lord was so strong. Right away I felt at peace and knew that somehow, my father was going to be alright.
After performing a sacred temple endowment on behalf of deceased family members, my mother and I were waiting for the men to come out of their changing room so that we could leave. She and I were walking around the interior of the temple admiring the beautiful paintings of the Savior Jesus Christ and His ministry. The thoughts of my father and wondering what he had been doing were also on my mind. I knew things were going to be alright, but I didn’t know how. Then it happened.
It was not a vision, nor a dream. But for the briefest moment, I received an indelible impression in my mind and heart. It was as if I had a split-second visit to heaven. I had a taste of what heaven was like. It was unbelievable. It was beyond description. It was a feeling of joy and love to a degree that I had never felt before. At that moment there was no worry, no fear, no pain. Only complete, pure, and utter joy and peace. The experience lasted a moment or two, but the result changed my perspective on life from that day on.
I learned that no matter what happened to my father, everything was going to be alright. I learned that this knowledge applied to me and my life as well. The strong impression I received was this: If I stay close to my Father in Heaven by sincerely repenting of my sins and striving to live in harmony with the teachings of the gospel, I will be able to endure (and learn from) any trial and find a greater measure of happiness in my life. Because with the Lord, all things are possible.
The other impression I received was just as powerful. If I had a perfect knowledge of how wonderful heaven would be like, I would be able to pass through any and all of my trials almost effortlessly. The incomprehensible joy, peace, and love I will have in heaven (should I be worthy of spending eternity there) would far outweigh the suffering, pain, anguish, and uncertainty I experience here in mortality. This was the impression I received. Through the years, I’ve come to realize there is a reason we do not have a perfect knowledge of the glory of heaven. If we did, we would not have the opportunity to develop faith. And developing faith in Jesus Christ is one of the purposes of life. And so, this would explain why my experience was so brief. I was only given a small taste of heaven, just enough to give me hope. But how bright that hope was and is! Oh how glorious it will be to live with God again, worlds without end, should I be found worthy of it.
This is what the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. There is hope. There is a way to overcome my tribulations and my faults here on earth. There is a way I can find a measure of joy, peace, and happiness here, today, now. That way is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, my Savior. When I am striving to live the way God has commanded me to, He will not forsake me. He is there to heal the broken hearted and bring hope to all; for my father, mother, all of my loved ones, and for everyone.
Jesus Christ not only suffered for my sins, He took upon Himself all of my pains, worries, heartaches and sicknesses (Mosiah 15:9), so that He could succor me in my time of need (Alma 7:12), if I come unto Him. I don’t have to go it alone. And if sickness brings me to death’s door, if I am living the best I can, I need not fear. I will be, I hope to be, welcomed with open arms on the other side of the veil, and my passing will be sweeter than I can imagine.
Today my father is doing well. He has been stable for years. With a combination of medication, love, and support from family and friends including my angelic, patient and loving mother, my father’s Faith in Jesus Christ, and due to the tender mercies of the Lord, my father is doing well enough to work full time. He is a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He is always helping others. He has blessed the lives of many. He has a special place in his heart for those with physical and/or emotional handicaps. He truly is a Good Samaritan, in word and in deed. The Lord knew this would happen. He knew everything was going to be alright. By the way, my father is an employee of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has been for many years.
A temple is a place of worship. In the ancient days, after Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, God commanded Moses to build a temple while they were in the wilderness heading towards the land promised to them. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass; And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair; And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood; Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense; Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:1–8).
Times when faithful followers of God built temples are some of the highlights of the history of mankind. Some of the most famous temples are Solomon’s Temple, Herod’s Temple, and the temple built by Zerubbabel. The construction of a temple is a symbol of victory or triumph and of great rejoicing, because it symbolizes the people separating themselves from the things of the world and setting themselves apart to the Lord. Whereas, the destruction of a temple, like that in Jerusalem, which was built and destroyed multiple time, is a sign of being conquered, enslaved by other nation—symbolically sin.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called Mormons) believe that a temple is literally the house of the Lord. A temple is an edifice, a holy sanctuary, devoted to special or exalted purposes where sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed for the living as well for those dead loved ones who died without the blessing of the fullness of the everlasting gospel which was restored in the latter days. One of the wonderful teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormon Church, as it has been nicknamed by those of other faiths) is that even our ancestors can have the fullness of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the sacred ceremonies performed inside Mormon Temples.
There are 135 Mormon Temples currently in operation; some are still under construction around the world, and others have been announced but are still in the beginning phases. All people are invited to come visit new temples during Mormon temple open houses, when members of the community are permitted to tour the temple following special guidelines to uphold reverence. Each new or renovated temple has a period of a few weeks before its dedication allotted for such an open house. There are beautiful paintings depicting the Savior’s life. Only the finest of materials are used for temples, because we should set aside nothing but the best for the Lord.
After the period of an open house, the temple is dedicated to the use of the Lord. From the dedication on, only worthy members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may go through the temple and participate in the ordinances which are performed there. These ordinances include baptisms for the dead, the endowment (or the Mormon temple ritual), and sealings of families for time and eternity.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reveres temples as sacred places where the Spirit of the Lord can be felt. There are no really secrets inside the Mormon temple, but because it is considered a sacred edifice, only those individuals who have great faith in Jesus Christ, have repented of their wrongdoings, have accepted the invitation to be baptized with proper authority, have kept the commandments, and have prepared to go to the temple are permitted to enter and participate. The covenants which one makes in the temple require living a very high law, so it is very important that when a person makes those covenants, he or she is prepared to keep them.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (again, sometimes wrongly referred to as the Mormon Church) teaches that the family is ordained of God (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World“). It is the fundamental unit of society. God has prepared many wonderful blessings God for the family. Latter-day Saints believe that family relationships continue beyond the grave through the sacred ceremonies and ordinances known as sealings performed in Mormon temples. Sealing rooms have an altar around which family members kneel when they are to be sealed. Wonderful blessings are pronounced for the family, including that they can be together forever, if they keep their promises to the Lord. On the walls are large mirrors facing each other. Looking in these mirrors helps individuals realize that God is eternal and that the blessings given to a family are also for eternity.
Another room in Mormon temples is reserved for the Mormon temple endowment or Mormon temple ritual. To endow means to empower or give a gift. One of the blessings of the temple is that faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are given blessings to help them overcome the trials of this life. The room is designed like a classroom where participants are taught of the Plan of Salvation and the blessings available through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All those who do temple work wear white clothing to symbolize cleanliness, purity of thought, and unity.
Baptisms performed on behalf of dead ancestors are some of the ordinances performed in Mormon temples. These baptisms are done by proxy by worthy members of the LDS Church ages 12 and above. This teaching is referenced in the New Testament by Paul, as well as in modern-day scripture, expands on this doctrine:
And now my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these principles in relation to the dead and the living cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither we without our dead be made perfect. And now, in relation to the baptism for the dead, I will give you another quotation of Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:29: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? And again, in connection with this quotation I will give you a quotation from one of the prophets, who had his eye fixed in the restoration of the priesthood, the glories be revealed in the last days, and in an especial manner this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, namely, the baptism for the dead; for Malachi says, last chapter, verses 5th and 6th: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128:15–17).
Baptisms for the dead are performed only in Mormon temples. Each temple has a baptistry with a large baptismal font. Baptistries are always located under ground, to add to the symbolism of death, burial, and resurrection already inherent in the ordinance of baptism by immersion.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the great opportunity and responsibility to search for their ancestors, with many aids available for free online, to Latter-day Saint and non-Latter-day Saint alike. Temple work is only performed for direct deceased family members. If a person has too many names to complete on his own, however, he may submit those names to the temple and have other attendees perform ordinances on behalf of those ancestors. If a person wishes to do the temple work for a non-family member, written consent must first be obtained from that deceased person’s nearest living relative.
All people are children of God; therefore, all are entitled to great blessings available in the Mormon temple through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We invite you to attend a Mormon temple open house and to learn more for yourself.