The renovated and resplendent Washington D.C. Temple is now rededicated, and ready to serve tens of thousands of faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christs of Latter-day Saints in and around the nation’s capital.
On Sunday morning, church President Russell M. Nelson rededicated the Oz-like edifice — some say it resembles the Emerald City from the classic “The Wizard of Oz” film — praying that the six-spired, 160,000-square-foot building will be “a refuge for all who enter.”
The prayer marked the end of a massive four-year renovation project on the Utah-based faith’s third-largest temple and its replenished surrounding grounds, sporting 260 newly planted trees, 5,073 shrubs and 3,911 perennials.
“Each temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families,” Nelson told church members in remarks before the rededication. “I promise that if you will make time to be in the temple regularly, it will change your lives. It will bless your families, strengthen your faith and open the windows of heaven for you.”
In an ode to the showcase temple’s prominent location in Kensington, Md., just outside the U.S. capital, Nelson paid homage to the nation’s founders.
“Today, we are ever grateful for the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the inspired Constitution of the United States of America,” he prayed. “We are grateful for that Constitution and for the leaders of this great nation, past, present and future. Please bless them with a desire to do what is right.”
The church’s 17th prophet-president also pointed to the dignitaries who flock to Washington from across the globe.
“We are mindful of the many ambassadors and diplomats who come to this great city from many nations of the world,” he entreated. “We pray that thou wilt bless them and all thy children with a desire to seek thee and keep thy commandments.”
Nelson’s wife, Wendy Nelson, and his two counselors in the governing First Presidency, Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring, also attended Sunday’s ceremonies. Oaks and Eyring offered the same dedicatory prayer in later sessions.
Oaks said the temple’s teachings provide “the most important knowledge we can learn in mortality. That is the knowledge of eternity — who we are, the purpose of our mortal experience, what we should do here and where we are destined to go after this earth life.”
Eyring said temple worship is designed to lead “our hearts to love our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” according to the release, and inspire awe in God’s creations and raise awareness of the love God has for everyone.
The temple, which debuted in 1974, closed in 2018 to undergo the extensive renovation. Originally scheduled to reopen in December 2020, that date was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rededication was pushed back once again because of continuing demand to visit the temple during the public open house — which drew more than 100,000 guests — delaying the date from June to August.
Area Latter-day Saints celebrated the temple’s return to service.
“It’s a glorious weekend,” Carolyn Colton, one of many volunteers who helped during the two-month open house, said in the release. “I’m excited for it becoming again a house of worship. I’ve really missed being able to go to the temple whenever I want.”
The temple’s design is a modernization of the iconic Salt Lake Temple, which is undergoing a five-year overhaul and seismic retrofit.
Temples differ from church meetinghouses. Latter-day Saints view temples as Houses of the Lord, places where devout members can take part in their religion’s highest rites, including eternal marriage.
The rededicated temple will open for patrons Aug. 30. It primarily will serve 123,000 church members in Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania; Virginia; West Virginia and Maryland.