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The unique role the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center plays for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on full display right now.
Not only is the temple well-known locally as a glowing landmark on a hill above the Capital Beltway, but it and the Visitors’ Center are singular in the national and international impact they have, too.
“We try to connect with our local community and we try to connect with national government leaders in Washington, D.C., and with international government representatives who are headquartered here from all over the world,” said Elder Ken Peterson, the center’s director.
All of that was in evidence last week in events featuring Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve.
On Tuesday night, Elder Cook greeted and spoke to more than two dozen ambassadors to the United States from around the world and their families. The group filled the center’s large lobby.
He thanked the ambassadors specifically for government service that takes them away from their homelands and their extended families to work toward international peace and goodwill.
He and Singapore Ambassador Ashok Mirpuri expressed mutual gratitude that President Russell M. Nelson has announced a Latter-day Saint temple will be built in Singapore.
Then Elder Cook placed his hand on top of Ambassador Mirpuri’s hand and together they pressed a button that turned on the lights for the 45th annual Festival of Lights.
The Festival of Lights draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the temple grounds and visitors’ center each December. They come to see one of D.C.’s largest light displays, Christmas trees covered with dolls from other countries and dozens of international nativity scenes.
Wednesday night, Elder Cook participated in a second lighting ceremony for the festival with hundreds of specially invited guests, including diplomats, congressional staff, senior administration officials, national and international business leaders, government and court officers, and leaders from numerous religious denominations.
The temple, its grounds and the visitors center are flexible ambassadors for the church.
Each of the church’s 14 visitors centers is unique, said Jason Zander, the church’s manager of temple visitors’ centers.
“A temple visitors center’s role is to help the general population understand the role of temples and that the focus of temples is on Jesus Christ,” he said. “D.C. is unique as a melting pot and dignitaries from all over the world who converge on this city. The temple and the visitors center are the representation of the church in D.C.”
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Read how church leaders select temple locations and build temples here.
Read about Elder D. Todd Christofferson attending the unveiling of a 15-foot statue of Joseph Smith at World Peace University in India here.
Christmas lights returned to the Mesa Arizona Temple for the first time in five years.
More renovations: The Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Lion House and Beehive House will close for restoration work next year.
What I’m reading
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Stanford apologized to BYU after its band conducted a skit at halftime of the BYU-Stanford game that was offensive to Latter-day Saints.