KENSINGTON, Md. — While strolling the grounds of the renovated Washington DC Temple, President Russell M. Nelson gazed at the iconic building and spoke of the “magnificence of the work being done” to beautify and renew the sacred site.
“We are very grateful,” he said. “This temple will now stand for another generation or two.”
The leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rededicated the temple today as a place where all who enter will “feel your presence and know your love.”
He praised the “magnificent work” of artisans, engineers and architects and – amid unusually mild temperatures – expressed his gratitude for the beautiful day.
“Let it be known who is responsible,” he said. The weather in Washington, DC, “isn’t always like this”.
The temple — the first Latter-day Saint building built in the eastern United States — was closed in 2018 to renovate mechanical and electrical systems and refresh finishes and furnishings.
The nearly 160,000 square foot temple sits on 52 acres and serves 123,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Washington, DC; Pennsylvania; Virginia; West Virginia; and Maryland. It is located 10 miles north of the United States Capitol.
The iconic temple was announced in 1968 and dedicated by President Spencer W. Kimball six years later.
At the invitation of President Kimball, then-Dr. Nelson attended the 1974 inauguration. When one of the top leaders fell ill, President Nelson spent the morning with him, returning just in time to participate in a later session.
President Nelson said he would never forget the feeling felt in the temple.
“The temple is more beautiful now than it has ever been before, and it was beautiful before. … This temple has been renovated. There is more light.
Pandemic Silver Lining
The dedication marks President Nelson’s first trips outside of Utah since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It’s wonderful to be with people again, he said emphatically, “but I really never left them.”
The silver lining of the pandemic — which delayed the rededication of the temple by more than a year — was learning to engage with Latter-day Saints without getting on a plane, he said.
In recent months, President Nelson has addressed, via technology, Latter-day Saints in Venezuela and Europe as well as in California and Oklahoma. He also spoke to young adults around the world.
Although he loves being among the Latter-day Saints, President Nelson said he had to make a difficult choice. “We really wanted to protect people,” he said. “And when the President of the Church goes anywhere, there are a lot of people who want to come and hear what he has to say.”
Due to the lingering variants of COVID-19, attendees of the temple dedication wore masks inside the temple.
President Nelson was accompanied to the rededication by his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson. Besides the Nelsons, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency; Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, and Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Sister Amy A. Wright, first counselor in the Primary general presidency; and many other Church leaders participated in dedicatory sessions. Sister Kristen Oaks, Sister Mary Cook, Sister Kathy Christofferson, Sister Susan Gong and Brother James Wright also participated.
A great blessing
The temple—and every temple—is a great blessing, President Nelson said.
“We are so blessed to have temples. We will have an increasing number of temples as the Church grows. But it’s not the number and it’s not the location. It’s not the architecture. These are the ordinances within,” he said. “I view the temple, every temple, as a symbol of Jesus Christ. He is our Mediator with the Father. And every temple is proof that there is life after death.
President Nelson shared some of that same counsel in a social media post from the Visitor Center after the temple was rededicated.
President Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, said he was delighted with the rededication of this Washington, DC temple. “The temples of the Lord are essential to Heavenly Father’s plan for His children,” he said. “Temple work is centered on Jesus Christ. Everything that is learned and done here depends on him.
Referring to the journey of the early Latter-day Saints to the Salt Lake Valley 175 years ago, President Oaks spoke of the “fortifying blessings” the pioneers received through their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple.
“Perhaps the construction of so many temples in recent years and the consequent availability of the temple endowment to nearly every faithful member throughout the world is in part intended to exert a similar strengthening influence for the people of our time,” he said. “The first temple in Nauvoo provided that strength to the pioneers who then overcame terrible odds to establish the Church on the mountaintops. The times to come will surely require that we remember our temple covenants and rely on the blessings promised in our temple endowments.
President Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, called participating in the rededication of the temple “a glorious experience in the house of the Lord.” Latter-day Saints can claim the blessings of the House of the Lord “every time we enter a dedicated temple to worship, learn and serve,” he said. “This is so because every teaching and every ordinance in such a house of God moves our hearts to love our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
A temple of God is a house of revelation, he continued. “I try to receive with faith and a humble heart every word and every impression that is given to me in a holy temple. … In the temple we can find peace. It is the blessing that the Savior has promised to the faithful keeper of the covenant, even when we encounter trials, as we all will.
Peace in the world
Elder Cook said many of the approximately 350,000 guests who attended the temple’s open house — as well as the hundreds of thousands who visited the temple virtually — felt the peace found in the temple. “They recognized that the Savior and His gospel bring peace.
At a time when many people around the world are seeking peace in times of conflict, Latter-day Saints are promised that “righteousness brings peace.”
“The reward of righteousness is peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. So while it may sound very controversial, individuals can have personal peace in a controversial world,” he said.
Elder Cook said it was a privilege to see President Nelson, who is both able and humble, dedicate the temple.
Sister Wright said she will always cherish the sacred privilege of sitting in the front and being able to watch this great congregation as President Nelson “taught and testified of Jesus Christ in the Savior’s Holy House and saw the truthfulness of his words reflected in the eyes”. not only men and women, but also precious little children.
President Nelson said each temple represents “a step — a sacred step — toward eternal life for us and our families.”