The Mormons - Mormon Temples


Kaysville Tabernacle 
Mormon Stake House
There are two distinct forms of Mormonism co-existing, and only weakly related.
The first form of Mormonism is the form that is generally known to non-Mormons.
It is the religion practised in Mormon Chapels, Stake Houses and Tabernacles, and involves prayers meetings, hymn singing and Sacrament Services, and in most ways is indistinguishable from most forms of Adventist Christianity.
The second form of Mormonism, which some would suggest is the true form of Mormonism, is 'Temple Mormonism'.
This form of Mormonism involves various activities which are not available to non-Mormons, or even many Mormons.

Salt Lake City Temple
Mormon Chapel
It is an essentially non-Christian, Gnostic Mystery religion.
In the Mormon Church, a temple is a building reserved for special forms of worship.
A temple differs from a church meetinghouse (Mormon Tabernacle, Chapel or Stakehouse), which is used for weekly worship services.
Temples have been a significant part of the Latter Day Saint movement since early in its inception.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 139 operating temples worldwide to perform 'Endowment Ceremonies', marriages, and other services for both the living, and by proxy, on behalf of dead ancestors, with 29 more undergoing renovation, under construction or announced and in some stage of planning as of 26 November 2012.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was conceived as a 'restoration' of practices believed to have been lost in a 'Great Apostasy' from the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith Jr - 1843
On December 27, 1832 - two years after the foundation of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the church's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., reported receiving a revelation that called upon church members to restore the practice of temple worship.
The Latter Day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio were commanded to:
"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God." (Doctrine and Covenants 1835 VII:36, LDS 88:119, RLDS 85:36b)
More importantly, Latter Day Saints see temples as the fulfilment of a prophecy found in Malachi 3:1 (KJV):
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts."
This is believed to emphasize that when the Lord comes again, he will come "to his temple."
As plans were drawn up to construct a temple in Kirtland, the decision was made to simultaneously begin work on a second temple at the church's colony in Jackson County, Missouri.
Surviving plans indicate that both temples would have the same dimensions and approximately the same appearance, and both were to be at the "centre-places" of cities designed according to Smith's plan for the 'City of Zion'.
Conflict in Missouri led to the expulsion of the Mormons from Jackson County, preventing any possibility of building a temple there, but work on the temple in Kirtland continued.
At great cost and after great sacrifice, the Latter Day Saints finished the Kirtland Temple in early 1836.
On March 27, they held a lengthy dedication ceremony, and numerous spiritual experiences and visitations were reported.
Conflict relating to the failure of the church's Kirtland Safety Society Bank, caused the church presidency to leave Kirtland and move the church's headquarters to the Mormon settlement of Far West, Missouri.
Far West was also planned along the lines of the 'City of Zion' plan and in 1838 the church began construction of a new, larger temple in the centre of the town.
They may also have dedicated a temple site in the neighbouring Mormon settlement of 'Adam-ondi-Ahman'. The events of the 1838 Mormon War, and the expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri left these attempts at temple-building no further progressed than excavating foundations.
In 1839, the Mormons regrouped at a new headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois.
They were again commanded to build a "House of the Lord" - this one even larger and greater than those that went before.

Death of Joseph Smith Jr
Plans for the temple in Nauvoo followed the earlier models in Kirtland and Independence, with lower and upper courts, but the scale was much increased.
New conflicts arose that caused Joseph Smith, the Prophet and President of the Church, to be murdered, along with his brother Hyrum the Patriarch, at Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844.
The Nauvoo Temple stood only half finished.
Eventually, this temple was finished and dedicated.
Some temple ordinances were performed before most of the saints followed Brigham Young west across the Mississippi River.


Temples have held numerous purposes in the Latter Day Saint.
These purposes include:

Kirtland Temple
A House of the Lord - Joseph Smith, Jr. reported a revelation in 1836 explaining that the recently-dedicated Kirtland Temple was built "that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people." (Doctrine and Covenants LDS 109:5).

A House of Learning - The Kirtland Temple housed the "School of the Prophets."
Nauvoo Temple
Centre of the City of Zion - Latter Day Saints often view temples as central to the establishment of Zionic communities.
Examples include: the Kirtland Temple, the original (unfinished) Independence Temple, the (unfinished) Far West Temple, the (unfinished) Adam-ondi-Ahman Temple, the original Nauvoo Temple, the Salt Lake Temple, the St. George Utah Temple, the Mesa Arizona Temple, the Laie Hawaii Temple, and others.
Headquarters of the church - the Kirtland Temple served as the headquarters of the early church from its completion in 1836 through the end of 1837.
Sacred spaces for special ordinances - Beginning in Nauvoo, temples were spaces in which to perform special ordinances such as the 'Endowment' and 'Baptism for the Dead.

Salt Lake Temple Baptistry
Temples are not only a 'House of the Lord', but are also where members of the Church make 'Covenants', receive instructions, and perform sacred ordinances, such as: 'Baptism for the Dead', 'Washing and Anointing' (or "initiatory" ordinances), the 'Endowment', and 'Eternal Marriage Sealings'.
Ordinances are a vital part of the theology of the church, which teaches that they were practised by the Lord's covenant people in all dispensations.
Additionally, members consider the temple a place to commune with God, seek God’s aid, understand the will of God, and receive personal revelation.

Upon completion, temples are usually open to the public for a short period of time.
During this period the church conducts tours of the temple, with missionaries and members from the local area serving as tour guides, and all rooms of the temple are open to the public.
The temple is then dedicated as a "House of the Lord," after which only members in good standing are permitted entrance, thus they are not churches but rather places of worship.


Kirtland Temple Interior
In 1832, shortly after the formation of the Church, Joseph Smith, Jr. said that the Lord desired the saints build a temple; and they completed the Kirtland Temple in 1836.
Mormons feel that the first 'endowment' ceremonies were performed in Kirtland, Ohio, although the endowment performed in Kirtland differed significantly from the 'endowment' performed by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo.
The construction of the Nauvoo Temple, and the teaching of the full endowment by Smith are seen as the final steps in restoring the Church founded by Jesus Christ following the great apostasy.
Because it is an integral part of their worship, members, upon arriving in Salt Lake City, began plans to build temples there, and built the 'Endowment House' to allow members to receive the endowment until the temples were completed.

Ordiance Room

Provo Temple - Celestial Room
In temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an 'Ordinance Room' is a room where the ceremony known as the 'Endowment' is administered, as well as other rituals called 'Sealings'.
Some temples perform a progressive-style ordinance where worshipers move from room to room, each room representing a progression of mankind: the 'Creation Room', representing the Genesis creation story; the 'Garden Room' represents the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived prior to the fall of man; the 'World Room', where Adam and Eve lived after the fall; the Terrestrial room; and the 'Celestial Room' representing the Celestial Kingdom of God.
There is also an additional ordinance room, the 'Sealing Room', and at least one temple (Salt Lake City) has a 'Holy of Holies'.
These two rooms are reserved for the administration of ordinances beyond the Endowment.

Development of Ordinance Rooms

Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store
The first building to have ordinance rooms, designed to conduct the 'Endowment', was Joseph Smith's store in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842.
Using canvas, Smith divided the store's large, second-floor room into sections, which represented "the interior of a temple as much as circumstances would permit".
The sections included a 'garden' with potted plants and a 'veil'.
After conducting the endowment services, Smith told Brigham Young, "This is not arranged right but we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed." Smith concluded that he wanted Young to "organize and systemize all these ceremonies."
After Smith's assassination in 1844, Young also used canvas to divide the large attic room in the Nauvoo Temple in the sections.
Participants in the Nauvoo Temple ceremonies used the same names for these sections as the ordinance rooms in later temples: 'Garden Room', 'World Room', 'Terrestrial Room', 'Celestial Room', and 'Sealing Room', which was also called the 'Holy of Holies'.
With the resumption of temple ordinances in Salt Lake City in the 1850s, Young followed the same method of using canvas to divide an upper floor of the Council House into the ordinance rooms.
The above arrangement for administering the 'Endowment' consisted of only temporary modifications to a building's interior rooms; obviously canvas partitions were not meant to be permanent.

Salt Lake City Endowment House
The first building to be designed specifically with actual progressive-style ordinance rooms for presentation of the 'Endowment' was the Endowment House built in 1855 on Temple Square.
This structure had the same rooms as the Nauvoo Temple and Council House, including a Garden Room with murals and potted evergreen plants, but the Sealing Room was not called the Holy of Holies (Tingen, 10). However, when the St. George Utah Temple, was completed in 1877, Young followed the Nauvoo Temple pattern of using "frame partitions with the curtains and doors" for Endowment rooms.
Apparently, the rooms were later made more permanent in 1881, when a group of Utah artists painted murals on the walls.

St George Temple
Logan Temple - Utah
Perhaps, using the precedent of the rooms in Endowment House and St. George, architect Truman O. Angell, Jr., specifically designed the Logan Utah Temple interior with progressive ordinance rooms; the first temple so designed, which was dedicated in 1884. Manti Utah Temple architect, William Folsom, followed the same arrangement for that temple, which was dedicated in 1888.
Based on his experience with the Logan Temple, Angell petitioned Church president John Taylor to override Brigham Young's original design for the Salt Lake Temple's interior with progressive ordinance rooms, which Taylor enthusiastically approved.
The following description of the various rooms is typical of  Mormon temples.
These ordinance rooms reflect the overall temple ceremonies, which is an overview of God's plan for humanity.
Beginning with the creation, the endowment reviews man's mortal existence, and what one must do in order to return to God's presence as husband and wife with their children.

Creation Room

Salt Lake City Creation Room
NauvooTemple Creation Room 
This room generally has "murals on the walls which are subdued in tones, and depict scenes representative of the creation of the earth" as recorded in Genesis. It has no altar, only comfortable theater seating (Talmage, 204). In this room temple patrons "learn about the creation of the world".

Garden Room

Salt Lake Temple - Garden Room
NauvooTemple Garden Room
This room has murals "showing landscape of rare beauty."
The murals depict scenes such as "sylvan grottos and mossy dells, lakes and brooks, waterfalls and rivulets, trees, vines and flowers, insects, birds and beats, in short, the earth beautiful, as it was before the Fall of Adam and Eve.
It may be called the Garden of Eden Room.
It has an altar and theatre seating.
In this room temple patrons learn "about our first parents being placed in the Garden of Satan tempted Adam and Eve, and how they were cast out of the garden and out of the presence of God into our world".

World Room

Manti Temple World Room
This room's murals stand "in strong contrast to with those of the Garden Room."
The "rocks are rent and riven" with "gnarled trees, misshapen, and blasted; shrubs maintain a precarious roothold in rocky clefts; thorns, thistles, cacti, and noxious weeds abound," and the animals depicted "are living under the ever-present menace of death".
The scenes depicts the "lone and dreary world," where Adam and Eve "have been driven out to meet contention, to struggle with difficulties, and to live by strife and sweat" in a "fallen world."
It has an altar and theatre seating.
In this room temple patrons "learn about the joys as well as the discomforts of life,...where they are taught the gospel and enter into covenants of obedience with God".

Terrestrial Room

Salt Lake Temple Terrestial Room
This room has no murals, but is "restful in its soft colouring and air of comfort."
Its appointments "combine richness and simplicity," often including elaborately framed mirrors and paintings, and crystal chandeliers. "For convenience this room is designated the Terrestrial Room." In this room "lectures are given pertaining to the endowments".

Celestial Room

Salt Lake Temple Celestial Room
The 'veil' separates this room from the 'Terrestrial Room'.
Again, this room has no murals, but "in finish and furnishings it is the grandest of all the large [ordinance] rooms within the walls" of the temple.
Like the 'Terrestrial Room' it has large mirrors, paintings, and chandeliers, but it is more "suggestive of conditions yet more exalted."
Instead of theatre style seating for instruction it has tables with floral arrangements as well as comfortable sofas and chairs.
The 'Celestial Room' "symbolizes life as eternal families", and represents the glory of the highest degree of heaven.
The 'Celestial Room' is so called because it is symbolic of the Celestial Kingdom in Mormon theology.
Thus, the 'Celestial Room' is a profoundly quiet and reverent place, where individuals may pause to pray, meditate, and discuss amongst themselves.
In most Mormon temples, 'Celestial Rooms' are elegant, beautiful, and brighter in d√©cor than other parts of the temple.

Sealing Room

St Paul Temple Sealing Room
Salt Lake Temple Sealing Room
All temples have at least one 'Sealing Room', and most temples have two or more.
'Sealing Rooms' come in a variety of sizes. from small to large. to accommodate varying numbers of people. Each room is dominated by a large "richly upholstered altar."
Around the room are comfortable chairs and sofas.
The "walls are of light tint," and generally on two of the walls are large mirrors, opposite each other.
In this room "is solemnized the sacred ordinance of marriage between the parties who come to plight their vows of marital fidelity for time and eternity".

Holy of Holies

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 'Holy of Holies' is a room in the Salt Lake Temple wherein the church's president - acting as the Presiding High Priest of the church - enters to act as High Priest of Israel in direct relationship with God, in accordance with the Mormon interpretation of the Book of Exodus.
Hence, this 'Holy of Holies' in the Mormon Church temple is considered a modern cognate to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem.

Salt Lake Temple Holy of Holies
Boyd K. Packer, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has stated that “hidden away in the central part of the temple is the Holy of Holies, where the President of the Church may retire when burdened down with heavy decisions to seek an interview with Him whose Church it is. The prophet holds the keys, the spiritual keys and the very literal key to this one door in that sacred edifice”.
James E. Talmage stated that "this room is reserved for the higher ordinances in the Priesthood relating to the exaltation of both living and dead".
Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, stated that "no one can truly say he knows God until he has handled something, and this can only be done in the Holiest of Holies".

The Holy of Holies is the central of the three small apartments connected with the Celestial Room.
It is raised above the other two rooms, and is reached by an additional flight of six steps inside the sliding doors.
The short staircase is bordered by hand-carved balustrades, which terminate in a pair of newel-posts bearing bronze figures symbolical of innocent childhood; these support flower clusters, each jewelled blossom enclosing an electric bulb.
On the landing at the head of the steps is another archway, beneath which are sliding doors; these doors  "corresponds to the inner curtain or veil that shielded from public view the most sacred precincts" of earlier temples.
Opposite the doorway is a large stain glass window depicting Joseph Smith's 'First Vision'.
The room has an altar, chairs and sofas.
The room is practically without natural light, but it is brilliantly illumined by a large chandelier and eight side clusters of lamps.
The ceiling is a dome, in which are set circular and semi-circular windows of jewelled glass, and on the outer side of these, therefore above the ceiling, are electric globes whose light penetrates into the room in countless hues of subdued intensity.
Of all the rooms in the Salt Lake Temple, this circular room is "by far the most beautiful" with "splendid simplicity rather than of sumptuous splendour".

Temple Construction

Initially, the Church constructed temples in areas where there were large concentrations of members: Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Hawai'i (all in the USA), and Alberta (Canada).
In the mid 20th century, because of the importance of temples in the theology, the Church tried to balance density with the travel requirements that attending the temple imposed upon members - thus, temples were built in Europe (Switzerland-1955 and England-1958); the Pacific Islands (New Zealand-1958); and Washington, D.C. (1974-first American temple East of Utah since Nauvoo in 1846) when membership alone might not have justified the effort.
Temple growth continued in the 1980s, Spencer W. Kimball directed the Church to build smaller temples with similar designs.
Before this time, all but the Switzerland temple were at least 45,000 square feet (4,200 m2), and the average size of the first 20 temples was 103,000 square feet (9,570 m2).
The new temples varied in size but were generally less than 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) allowing temples to be built where there were fewer members.

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