Beautiful buildings topped with steeples and surrounded by serene landscaping dot the Earth as places of worship and peace for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These Mormon temples are different from the Mormon Church’s other meetinghouses, and the temples contain the most sacred ordinances. For Mormons, these buildings are places to learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pray, make covenants, receive answers to prayers, receive blessings, and provide service.
In temples, we learn about where we come from, our relationship to God, and how we can return to God. In ceremonies given to the Mormon Church from God through Joseph Smith, we learn about who we really are, and what God has planned for us. Temples teach that Jesus Christ is the only way to return to the Father, and they teach us of the rewards of enduring this life. Temples are houses of hope; they are houses of God.
Mormon Temple Slideshow
Temple Sacredness not Secrecy
Because Mormon temples house the most sacred ordinances in Mormon doctrine, they are not open to the public after they are dedicated. Not even all Mormons can enter the temple. Those who enter the temple must be both worthy and prepared. Mormons also do not speak in detail about the temple ceremonies and the ordinances they contain. There are many reasons for this discretion, but it is mainly because sacred things shouldn’t be taken lightly or ridiculed; therefore, Mormons do not expose sacred ceremonies to ridicule or to those who are not worthy and prepared to understand them.
To enter a dedicated temple, a Mormon needs a temple recommend, which is a small form that has been signed by three people to verify the recommend holder’s worthiness. The first two people who must sign the recommend are the person’s Bishop (or other local leader) and stake president (or other area leader). The third person to sign the recommend is the applicant, indicating to all that he or she has been honest in reporting worthiness.
The leaders who sign the recommend need to interview the applicant to find out if they are worthy. They ask questions about the person’s beliefs: whether they believe in Jesus Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, etc. They ask questions about honesty in their dealings, how they treat their family, and general worthiness issues, like chastity and fidelity.
Some temple recommends, particularly those for youth, are limited-use recommends, meaning that they can only be used to do Baptism for the Dead. These recommends only need the signature of a bishop. They expire after one year of use.
For the endowment and other ceremonies, a full-use recommend is required. The first recommend a person receives is to receive his or her own ordinances of initiation, Endowment, and marriage, if they are getting married. Usually Mormons receive their endowments when preparing to serve as Mormon Missionaries or shortly before getting married. Otherwise they receive them once they are prepared and worthy, at least a year after joining the Church.
To prepare to enter the temple for the first time, many Mormons attend a temple preparation course at church. They learn about worthiness and are prepared spiritually and mentally for the symbolic temple experience. Bishops or those called especially to teach temple preparation usually teach the class, and bishops can help those who are preparing to enter the temple on an individual basis. This preparation usually helps those who are nervous about experiencing something new and unknown.
Various ceremonies take place in temples, all of them containing ordinances: opportunities to make binding promises to God and receive promises of blessings from God by Priesthood authority. Among ordinances done for the living are the Endowment, the initiatory, and sealings of couples (Temple Marriage) and of families.
Mormons also research their ancestors and perform ordinances on their behalf. Mormons believe that all of the saving ordinances are necessary, and since many have died without receiving them, the Lord lets their work be done in temples. The dead receive all of the blessings the living do in temples, and baptism, confirmation (receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost), and priesthood ordinations, which are usually done for the living in meetinghouses, can be done for the dead only in temples.
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple
The most recently constructed LDS Temple is in downtown Philadelphia, PA. Its dedication ceremony was 16. September, 2016.