Although I am Catholic and love visiting Catholic churches, studying religion in a much broader sense has been an interest of mine for a while. As such, I want to be able to give some overviews of various houses of worship, particularly those which I’m hoping to get pictures of later on. That way, everyone can be on the same page regarding what we’re looking at. I thought I would start with Mormon temples, since there are two under construction within driving distance from me, plus I’m hoping to visit the original temple in Kirtland, Ohio sometime in the next few months.
Mormon temples are important hubs for Mormon spirituality. These temples are dedicated to become a “House of the Lord”. When this happens, the temples are only open to those who are in good standing with the church and have a temple recommend from their bishop. Since I’m not Mormon, I certainly won’t be getting a temple recommend anytime soon! Of course, once I learned this, I wanted to go to one. But how? There are two options: wait for a temple to undergo significant repairs, or wait for a new temple to open and visit before it’s dedicated.
The second option is much easier than the first. Temples undergo such significant restoration rarely, probably because of all the hassle associated with shutting down temple activities and visitation. Plus, it’s much harder to find schedules for when that will happen, and it doesn’t guarantee that the temple will offer tours during that time. Finding new temples alleviates these problems (I am under the impression that temples always give tours before being dedicated).
So, where to find new temples? I find the easiest way is to check out the “under construction” and “announced” lists on Wikipedia (although as we saw with the basilica list, these aren’t always correct). I also check the official LDS page for each temple once it goes under construction (note that Rome is getting a temple). The official page will be updated throughout the construction process with better estimates of when the temple will be open.
Right now, I’m aiming to see the Kansas City Missouri Temple (set to open in early 2012) and the Indianapolis Indiana Temple (just announced, so we’ve got another two or three years). Plus, the original temple in Kirtland, Ohio is now operated by the Community of Christ (a Mormon offshoot) and is open to the public. If you’re interested in getting a first hand account of what it means for local Mormons to have a temple near them, I would suggest checking out the blog The Kansas City Temple Chaser. I only found the blog a few months ago, but they’ve been following the construction of the temple for a while. They also give some great testimonials from Mormons who have recently visited the construction site, or who talk about what the temple means for them.
If you’ve checked out some of those “announced temples” links and looked through the sketches of these temples, one thing you may notice is that they look a lot alike. This is because Mormon temples are being announced and constructed at an unprecedented rate. While I’m sure there is an amount of personalization that goes into each one, they certainly are taking on a similar appearance. And I don’t mean that as demeaning – just as an observation. Given that the Kansas City and Indianapolis locations are going to be opening within such few years of one another (and in relatively close proximity), I’ll be curious to see what the differences are between the two.
As of the writing of this post, there are 134 operating temples, 10 under construction, and 16 announced.
Below are some pictures others have taken of various Mormon Temples, mostly in the US, but a few are some elsewhere. It’s definitely a different style of architecture than what we see in the Catholic Church.
One thing to note is that photography is not permitted inside of a temple, even during an open house (yeah, I asked). It’s certainly not easy to find photos of the insides of Mormon temples, but I’ll be linking to a site on Friday that has a few. I definitely recommend stopping by and checking them out – they certainly are magnificent.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some more information about Mormon temples. If you have any questions about them, leave them in the comments!