For the first time in 48 years, the doors of the Washington, DC Temple will open to the general public for six weeks beginning April 28.
David A. Bednar gave CBS News Sunday Morning’s Ed O’Keefe and network cameras an exclusive look at the renovated temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The news newspaper aired a five-minute segment on Sunday.
CBS also posted on its YouTube channel a 100 second clip from one of the temple’s sealing rooms, where Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered symbolism-based marriage counsel in rooms where Latter-day Saints can be bound together forever in known ordinance under the name of sealing.
Brother Bednar and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, showed O’Keefe the endless reflections provided by face-to-face mirrors as couples kneel before an altar to be sealed together.
“If Susan and I stand here and look in these mirrors, if I look at Susan and Susan looks at me, you can see forever,” Elder Bednar said. “But if I look in the mirror right in my eyes and Susan only looks in her eyes, all you can see is yourself. That’s all the marriage advice we need.
“As long as I watch Susan and care about her comfort and well-being, I’ll be fine, if she does the same. But if I’m self-centered and selfish, then it probably doesn’t work out very well.
The temple has been a landmark on the Capitol Beltway for area residents and international visitors since its construction and first open house in the fall of 1974. After 758,000 people visited the temple, it was dedicated and reserved only for Latter-day Saints who keep commitments to live temple-worthy lives.
Now, the temple that stands on a prominent hill 10 miles north of the White House will be open again for six weeks from April 28 to June 11, after media and VIP visits over the next 10 days. Free Open Day tickets can be booked here.
D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who played a role in the Watergate court proceedings as a young lawyer, was also on the tour with Sister Kathy Christofferson.
O’Keefe noted that some say the way the temple rises above the ring road reminds them of the Land of Oz.
Brother Christofferson said the church hopes open house visitors will come to see the temple “as something much, much more than Oz.”
The temple closed in 2018 for mostly technical renovations. Work was completed in 2020 and an open house and dedication was planned for the fall and winter of that year before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted those plans.
CBS Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley introduced O’Keefe’s segment.
“In a city filled with inspiring landmarks, one Washington, DC landmark has long been a mystery. Until now,” she said.
Elder Bednar told O’Keefe that there is a difference between secrets and sacred space.
“Sometimes we are accused, ‘What secret things do you do in the temple?’ he said. “They are not secret; they are sacred. And so we don’t talk about them casually or lightly because, to us, they’re so central, so fundamental, and so important to the way we live.
O’Keefe noted the temple’s massive size—its six spiers reach nearly 300 feet—and its white Alabama marble.
The Washington DC Temple was the only church temple east of the Mississippi when it was built. Church leaders wanted it to be striking and central to its message about the importance of the family in the doctrine of faith on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Once the Capital Beltway route was settled, church leaders moved the temple’s location up the hill 60 feet to add to its prominence for ring road drivers, historians say.
As the CBS tour entered the temple, O’Keefe asked the apostles and their wives if the news crew was marching into another realm.
“Yes, symbolically,” Elder Bednar said. “We leave the world behind and enter a more heavenly place where we come to know God.”
O’Keefe noted that most spaces inside are windowless, hushed, and intimate.
“One room that causes a stir is the baptistery,” he said, explaining that it is a place where Latter-day Saints are baptized in the name of their ancestors who can choose to accept or reject it. in the afterlife.
The segment made it clear that the public message of the church half a century after the opening of the temple is still family-centered. He also noted a more recent message, that the church and its members no longer refer to themselves as Mormons, “instead emphasizing what they share with other Christian faiths: a reverence for Christ,” O’Keefe said.