What the Church did to restore, refurbish the Washington D.C. Temple and why it matters (2023)

KENSINGTON, Maryland — In the days before the Washington D.C. Temple open house this April — while filming an exclusive tour of the renovated edifice with a national media outlet — Elder David A. Bednar made an interesting discovery.

There are no shadows in the Washington D.C. Temple.

“The lighting in the temple seems to permeate everything,” said Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Simply said, Elder Bednar and a CBS news crew were “impressed by the light.”

The media specialists, working to produce an Easter morning special report with Ed O’Keefe, would normally use a number of devices to balance the lighting in a room. But in the temple, that equipment was not necessary, explained Elder Bednar.

What the Church did to restore, refurbish the Washington D.C. Temple and why it matters (1)

The domed oval and pointed arch motifs culminate in the celestial room of the Washington D.C. Temple. Entering this sacred space symbolizes the ultimate progression one can achieve toward heaven itself. The newly added Austrian-crafted crystal chandelier is a central focus with 12 supporting chandeliers set in their individual pointed-arch alcoves.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

(Video) The Washington D.C. Temple Renovation is Complete: Come and See

Dan Holt, the Church’s project manager for the Washington D.C. Temple renovation, said the crew was amazed by the “even and easy” lighting.

“When you walk through the building, you just feel a sense of rightness,” said Holt. “It feels good. You don’t necessarily know why because everything works together to just make it feel like you belong. There’s nothing that draws your eye too much. There’s nothing that detracts from the rest of the design at all. It just fits.”

It is quintessential mid-century modern design, he added. “Everything works, and it just feels right.”

That includes the distribution of light, which “comes from all sides of you,” he said. “The light of Christ is ever present in our lives. And available to us. And it hides nothing.”

What the Church did to restore, refurbish the Washington D.C. Temple and why it matters (2)

The Washington D.C. Temple in Kensington, Maryland on Sunday, April 17, 2022.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Gerrit W. Gong, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said he hopes people who saw the CBS special will come to the temple open house, the first time the public will be able to tour the temple since its 1974 dedication. Then in coming months and years, as they see the iconic building on the Capital Beltway, they can “remember that this is a place that connects them with God, connects them with each other, connects them to their own hearts and their best, truest selves.”

Restoration

The temple, the Church’s 16th in operation and the first built in the Eastern United States, closed in 2018 to update mechanical and electrical systems, refresh finishes and furnishings, and improve the grounds.

Crews took the temple down to the studs and put it back to the way the temple was designed — “mid-century modern, only more modern,” said Holt. “There wasn’t a space we didn’t touch, inside or outside.”

What the Church did to restore, refurbish the Washington D.C. Temple and why it matters (3)

One of six instruction rooms in the Washington D.C. Temple is shown in July 2021. This is where devout Latter-day Saints learn about God’s creation, the purpose of life, and how to become more like Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

(Video) Thousands of Virginia Latter-day Saints celebrate the rededicated Washington D.C. temple

The mechanical space, he said, is “ready for another 100 years of maintenance and upkeep.” In addition, LED lights, high efficiency boilers and chillers and equipment make the temple significantly more energy efficient than before the renovation.

This was accomplished with great deliberateness.

Read more: Elder Bednar speaks of the Washington D.C. Temple: ‘It is not just about this building’

Take, for example, the exterior art glass located on the east and west sides of the temple. Designed by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass of Winona, Minnesota, the frame and the epoxy resin between all the glass had worn out and deteriorated over time. Holt said as part of the project, crews removed panels and sent them to Minnesota — where artists took a charcoal rubbing of the windows. Every piece of glass was cleaned and returned exactly to the original design, held in place by new epoxy resin. “Every piece is exactly where it was,” said Holt. “It is just restored and improved and perfected.”

What the Church did to restore, refurbish the Washington D.C. Temple and why it matters (4)

The Washington D.C. Temple’s stained glass windows that span the east and west towers have been refurbished. Each piece of colored glass was removed, cleaned and reinstalled in updated, weather-insulated frames — by hand. The work was completed by the same company of artisans who first created the art glass and is shown in July 2021.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Although less visible, Holt said the most impressive parts of the building for him are the “minimalistic millwork details” and the drywall and plaster. The simple lines of the building require the highest level of craftsmanship and took time and innovation, he explained.

(Video) House of the Lord

“In many designs, you can hide mistakes in all sorts of places,” he said, noting that trim or other details can cover imperfections. “With a mid-century modern type of design, you can’t hide anything. You have a 200-foot run of just one straight line of drywall, and it better be straight. If it is not, everyone will know it.”

Plasterers and drywallers who worked on the temple have also done work on the U.S. Capitol building, the White House, the Smithsonian Institution and other beautiful buildings in the District of Columbia area. “We had a great group of people who were experienced and knew exactly what they were doing,” Holt said.

Temple renovation efforts also impacted work on the temple grounds, where crews replaced or transplanted 260 trees that were harvested from surrounding states. Other trees were moved to other locations on the temple grounds. “We didn’t lose a single tree,” said Holt.

A landmark

Sister Sharon Eubank of the Relief Society general presidency and director of Latter-day Saint Charities, lived and worked in Washington, D.C. in the early 90s. “This is, of course, a landmark everybody knows,” she said. “It is just stunning to see. It’s so clean and shiny and beautiful and the architecture is like a monument in Washington, D.C., and the craftsmanship inside is so beautiful.”

But the temple “is not about the architecture, it’s not about the craftsmanship. It’s about how it feels to connect with God in your heart.”

What the Church did to restore, refurbish the Washington D.C. Temple and why it matters (5)

Motorists drive on the Capital Beltway with a view of the Washington D.C. Temple in Kensington, Maryland on Sunday, April 17, 2022.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Sister Reyna I. Aburto, also of the Relief Society general presidency, said it is humbling to see the Church’s temple-building efforts across the globe. A member of the Church’s Temple and Family History Executive Council, Sister Aburto said it is beautiful to know that more and more Latter-day Saints and more and more communities can experience the blessing of a temple.

She said that in the temple active Latter-day Saints can leave the world behind and focus, not on the architectural details of the temple, but on the feeling of peace found inside the walls. “We can feel peace in this world, even though we may be troubled,” she said.

Troy Howard, a member of another faith who visited the temple during the VIP tours, also spoke about the temple’s architecture. The visitors’ center and the temple are “very clean, very pure, very big,” he said. “It feels inviting because the space is so open. It makes you feel like you could just walk in and be part of it.”

(Video) President Nelson Rededicates the House of the Lord in Washington, D.C.

What the Church did to restore, refurbish the Washington D.C. Temple and why it matters (6)

The unique domed oval design of the Washington D.C. Temple rotunda features African anegre and maple hardwood and mid-century modern furnishings and is shown in April 2022.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Kisha Sogunro, the Church’s North America Northeast Area assistant director of outreach, said that as she has walked through the temple, she has been struck by how diversity in artwork reflects a global Church. “When you see the artwork you see that, even for me as an African American woman, that I am represented in the temple,” she said. “It feels like home. It feels welcoming.”

A gathering place

When the Washington D.C. Temple was dedicated in 1974, it serviced every Church unit east of the Mississippi River. Elder Bednar and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, were living in Indiana while he completed graduate work at Purdue University, and this was their temple district. They lived about nine hours and 600 miles from the temple — a Latter-day Saint hub for the entire eastern United States.

“Plus, you have Washington, D.C. as a world hub, with people coming for business and other professional reasons from all over the world,” said Elder Bednar. “So this has historically been a remarkable gathering place for Latter-day Saints to be able to worship in the temple. It still has that same draw and attractiveness.”

What the Church did to restore, refurbish the Washington D.C. Temple and why it matters (7)

The celestial room inside the renovated Washington D.C. Temple features gold leaf-adorned walls, a central crystal chandelier supported by 12 smaller chandeliers in individual pointed-arch alcoves and modern design furnishings and is shown in July 2021.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

(Video) Inside the Latter-day Saints' Washington D.C. Temple

Elder Bednar said during tours of the temple, an important stop is in the celestial room. “We specifically invite the people to not say anything, and just go in and sit down. And we can discuss it after we come out of the celestial room, but we don’t speak in the room.”

The quiet in that setting reminds Elder Bednar of the verse in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

“So we bring people through of all kinds of religious and professional backgrounds, but for a few minutes, regardless of who they are or where they came from, they sit in the celestial room and they are still, and I think they are reminded that there is a God,” he said.

Read more coverage of the Washington D.C. Temple

  • About the Washington D.C. Temple, plus the dedicatory prayer
  • Washington D.C. Temple open house extended, rededication date rescheduled
  • In exclusive national interview, Elder Bednar calls Washington D.C. Temple ‘a place of light, of peace’
  • See photographs of the inside of the Washington D.C. Temple
  • Elder Bednar speaks of the Washington D.C. Temple: ‘It is not just about this building’
  • Video: How temple visitors are finding stillness, peace in the nation’s capital
  • Video: Elder Bednar asks, why are we surprised by today’s youth
  • Elder Bednar writes about the Washington D.C. Temple, answers questions about why it exists
  • Reverse Open House Series: How a temple open house inspired visits to other faiths’ sacred sites, events
  • Welcoming media – traditional and social – to the Washington D.C. Temple
  • What those who visit are saying at the Washington D.C. Temple

FAQs

What renovations were done to the Washington D.C. Temple? ›

No room was left untouched in the temple renovation.

According to Newsroom, decades-old mechanical, electrical, lighting, and plumbing systems were all updated and made more energy-efficient as part of the Church's four-year project.

When did the DC temple close for renovations? ›

Closed in 2018 for the renovations, the temple was originally set to reopen in 2020, until the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Has the Washington D.C. Temple been rededicated? ›

The house of the Lord in Washington, D.C., was formally rededicated on Sunday, August 14, 2022.

Which LDS temples are being renovated? ›

Temples Under Renovation
  • Columbus Ohio Temple. June 2023Public Open House: 29 April–13 May 2023. ...
  • St. George Utah Temple. ...
  • Manti Utah Temple. Renovation Completion: Estimated in early to mid-2024 (no open house or rededication dates announced yet) ...
  • Salt Lake Temple. ...
  • Provo Utah Temple. ...
  • Kona Hawaii Temple. ...
  • Stockholm Sweden Temple.

What were the major reasons behind the construction of temples? ›

To demonstrate the power of the king. To demonstrate the wealth of the ruler. To demonstrate the king's devotion to god. It was necessary to prevent wars.

Who funded Washington Monument restoration? ›

Rubenstein, who made his fortune in private equity at the Carlyle Group, initially donated $7.5 million to repair structural damage to the monument. After it reopened in 2014, the aging elevator repeatedly broke down, often stranding visitors.

Why has the DC Temple been closed? ›

Since 1974, the landmark Washington D.C. Temple has been closed to the public, reserved as sacred space for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now, after 48 years, the freshly renovated temple is open to all once again for the next few weeks.

Why is the Mormon temple in DC closed? ›

The general public can now acquaint itself with the pristine hallways of the Church till June 11 this year, after which it will become sealed off for the public again. The Church has been closed since 2018 for renovations is considered one of the most sacred spaces. It was originally designed by Fred L.

Why are they renovating the Salt Lake Temple? ›

As part of the Salt Lake Temple renovation project, many of the grounds and areas surrounding Temple Square are being remodeled. The new landscape design will better integrate the temple grounds with Main Street, the Church Office Building plaza and the northwest areas of the temple that surround it.

Which LDS apostles have been excommunicated? ›

Richard Roswell Lyman (November 23, 1870 – December 31, 1963) was an American engineer and religious leader who was an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1918 to 1943. Lyman is often noted as the most recent LDS Church apostle to have been excommunicated.

Who will rededicate the Washington D.C. Temple? ›

President Russell M. Nelson will dedicate the renovated Washington D.C. Temple on Sunday, Aug. 14, with the entire First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participating in the day's three rededication sessions.

Who has been excommunicated from the Mormon Church? ›

The most dramatic 20th-century discipline of a high Mormon official came in 1943, when then-apostle Richard R. Lyman was excommunicated for adultery.

How many LDS temples are under renovation? ›

As of Oct. 24, 2022, one of the 13 temples is under construction, one has its site locations identified, and the remaining 11 are in planning and design.

How many LDS temples are under construction now? ›

The Church of Jesus Christ currently has 168 operating temples and another 68 announced, 41 under construction and five undergoing renovation. See the official temple list.

How long will it take to renovate the Salt Lake Temple? ›

The four-year renovation project of the Salt Lake Temple now will take at least five years The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday. Work on the iconic temple, which got underway in January 2020, and surrounding Temple Square will be completed in 2025.

What was God's purpose for the temple? ›

The temple is a place where Heaven and Earth are united. The ancient Israelite temple was a symbol that pointed to God's desire to live among his human partners and rule the world through them. The temple was a sacred place to the ancient Israelites.

Why is the temple important to us? ›

The temple is a place of peace, happiness, and inspiration. Because the temple is the house of the Lord and the place where His most sacred ordinances are performed, God has established a standard that His children must meet before entering.

Why is it important to build a temple for God? ›

This building was a place where God's people could be in his presence, preparing them to become that holy presence on earth—a crucial role in God's plan to dwell with humanity.

Why was the Washington Monument rebuilt? ›

On August 23, 2011 the monument was severely damaged by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake and Hurricane Irene which struck the Washington, D.C. area. Damage included more than 150 cracks in the monument's interior and exterior as well as pieces of stone that had been rattled free.

Is there a Bible under the Washington Monument? ›

The bible was one of the items found in the cornerstone time capsule of Baltimore's Washington Monument. Two hundred years ago the first Washington Monument was built in Baltimore, and now, missing pieces of history from that original monument are being revealed.

Why is the Washington Monument important? ›

The Washington Monument, designed by Robert Mills and eventually completed by Thomas Casey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, honors and memorializes George Washington at the center of the nation's capital. The structure was completed in two phases of construction, one private (1848-1854) and one public (1876-1884).

Can Mormon kids go in the temple? ›

You can go to see a temple at any age. Your family can walk or drive around the temple grounds.

What religion is the DC Temple? ›

The Washington D.C. Temple (formerly the Washington Temple) is the 18th constructed and 16th operating temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It is located in Kensington, Maryland, United States, just north of Washington, D.C., near the Capital Beltway.

When was the last time the DC Temple was open? ›

It is a custom of the faith that before a temple is dedicated — or in this case, rededicated following renovations — the space is opened to the public. The last time this happened for the Washington D.C. Temple, which covers more than 150,000 square feet, was in 1974, when it was built.

Why are so many LDS members leaving the church? ›

Reasons for leaving

Most ex-Mormons leave Mormonism and the LDS Church because specific intellectual or spiritual reasons have led them to a conviction that the religion is false. The foremost reasons are disbelief both in Joseph Smith as a prophet and in the Book of Mormon as a religious and historical document.

Do Mormons believe in Jesus? ›

Latter-day Saints are Christians on the basis of our doctrine, our defined relationship to Christ, our patterns of worship and our way of life. What Do We Believe About Christ? We believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh (John 3:16).

Why are non Mormons not allowed in the temple? ›

However, because of the sacredness of temples as “houses of the Lord,” only members of the Church, who are in good standing are allowed to enter the temples.

Why is the Salt Lake Temple so important? ›

The Salt Lake Temple was the only temple dedicated by President Wilford Woodruff. With its distinctive spires and statue of the angel Moroni, the Salt Lake Temple is an international symbol of the Church. The Salt Lake Temple is the largest temple (most square footage) of the Church.

Why did the LDS Church change the temple ceremony? ›

The central temple ceremony in the Mormon Church has been changed to eliminate the woman's vow to obey her husband and other elements that some members said were offensive and outdated. In the new version of the rites, women now pledge to obey God and to merely listen to the advice of their husbands.

Why is everyone moving to Salt Lake City? ›

Salt Lake City took the No. 1 spot on this year's top market list. Located on the Northern side of the state, Salt Lake is an outdoor enthusiast's dream with its close proximity to some of the best skiing, hiking, fishing, and mountain biking in the country.

How many of the 7 apostles are left? ›

Nowadays, there are only 8 apostles left, with others slowly cutting down further and further until there will be more.

What church broke off from the Mormon Church? ›

The Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints is a radical polygamist sect that splintered off from the Mormon Church, a religion more formally called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more than a century ago.

What are the problems with the LDS Church? ›

Academic critics have questioned the legitimacy of Smith as a prophet as well as the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. Criticism has expanded to include claims of historical revisionism, homophobia, racism, and sexist policies.

Why do we do the Hosanna shout? ›

The Hosanna Shout is a way for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to give honor and praise to God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. The shout is a symbol of how the crowds reacted to Jesus during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem during the last week of His life.

What has President Nelson said about the temple? ›

May you focus on the temple in ways you never have before. I bless you to grow closer to God and Jesus Christ every day.

Will they rededicate the Salt Lake Temple? ›

Two years into the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the First Presidency has announced a new estimated completion date — noting the temple and its surroundings will be completed in 2025.

How many LDS couples get divorced? ›

According to research cited in a 2000 article in the Los Angeles Times, “in an era of divorce, Latter-day Saint temple weddings are built to last,” with only a 6 percent divorce rate.

Can Mormons be forgiven? ›

The Book of Mormon contains this reassuring promise from the Lord: “Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me” (Mosiah 26:30). If you sincerely repent, you can always be forgiven. God wants you to feel the hope and joy that come from receiving forgiveness and trusting in Him.

Is the Mormon Church declining? ›

In recent years, the global faith of 16.8 million has grown by less than 1% annually and, in fact, is shrinking in a number of regions. In the United States over the past two years, for instance, 21 states saw Latter-day Saint membership decline.

Why is LDS Church Growth Slowing? ›

Main drivers of this trend include smaller families, decreased retention among children born into the church and a general slowdown in the number of conversions. The number of active U.S. members will likely peak in the next few years, followed by a drop.

What percent of LDS are inactive? ›

The LDS Church does not release statistics on church activity, but it is likely that about 60 percent of its members in the United States and 70 percent worldwide are less active or inactive. Activity rates vary with age, and disengagement occurs most frequently between age 16 and 25.

How much did the LDS Church make during the pandemic? ›

New Securities and Exchange Commission filings show the church account of stocks and mutual funds managed by its Salt Lake City-based investment firm, Ensign Peak Advisors, wrapped up last year worth $52.3 billion — nearly $22.4 billion higher than at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Is the Mormon church growing in the United States? ›

In 2020 the annual growth rate in membership was 0.6% and in 2021 annual membership growth was 0.85%, lagging the world population growth rate which was around 1.05% in 2020 and 1.00% in 2021.

How many Mormons are there in the United States? ›

Mormons
The Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City
Total population
16,663,663
Regions with significant populations
United States6,592,195
8 more rows

How much does it cost to build an LDS temple? ›

It's gleaming white, cost nearly $24 million to build and has become a splashy and talked-about civic presence even before its official debut.

Did they remodel the Washington Monument? ›

32 months of repairs were conducted and the monument was officially reopened on May 12, 2014 after its complete restoration — made possible in part by David M. Rubenstein's $7.5 million donation to match the funds distributed by Congress (the largest individual gift in Trust for the National Mall history).

What are they doing to the SLC temple? ›

The upper level will house an updated Salt Lake Temple cut-away scale model and a statue of Jesus Christ. Plans for the lower level include an ongoing temple open house experience. This will include replicas of sacred temple ordinance rooms, such as a baptismal font and instruction, sealing, and celestial rooms.

What stopped the construction of the Washington Monument? ›

Having always struggled to gather funding, the Society's change in administration alienated donors and drove the Society to bankruptcy by 1854. Without funds, work on the monument slowed to a halt. Architect Robert Mills died in 1855.

When was the St George temple remodeled? ›

All records and furnishings were saved. Today's annex, located on the north side of the temple, was constructed in the 1950s and serves as the entrance to the temple. The St. George Utah Temple was extensively remodeled for over a year from 1937 to 1938.

Why is the Washington Monument significant? ›

The Washington Monument is an obelisk shaped building within the National Mall in Washington, D.C. built to commemorate George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army (1775–1784) in the American Revolutionary War and the first President of the United States (1789–1797).

Why was the Washington Monument damaged? ›

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, occurred 84 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., damaging the Washington Monument. The National Park Service has temporarily closed the Monument and is assessing the damage to it.

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