KENSINGTON, Maryland — In this global area where cultures, ideas and politics intersect, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced open house and dedication dates for the Washington D.C. Temple during a press conference Tuesday morning.
The announcement came 16 months after the original re-opening of the iconic temple was delayed by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The open house for the temple will be held April 28, 2022, through June 4, 2022 (except for Sundays) — marking the first time the public will be able to tour the temple since its 1974 dedication. The temple will be rededicated June 19, 2022. These dates were announced in a letter from the First Presidency and shared during a media event at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center, located 10 miles north of the United States Capitol.
Anne Golightly, chair of public affairs for the local Washington D.C. Temple open house committee, said the First Presidency’s decision to dedicate the temple next year will allow COVID recovery to occur in many areas of the world before the Church invites Washington D.C.’s global community to tour the sacred building.
“Even though this is an iconic building to our local area here and to the nation, it is also an important landmark to our global community,” she said.
Large gatherings should also be more feasible in coming months as vaccination levels in the United States increase, said Cristian Casellas, an immunologist who serves on the public health sub-committee for the temple. The church, he added, will take appropriate “measures for safety” during the public open house and dedication.
The temple was closed in 2018 to renovate mechanical and electrical systems, refresh finishes and furnishings, and expand the gardens, said Dan Holt, project manager for the temple reconstruction project.
Known for its mid-century modern architecture and prominence along the Capital Beltway, the 160,000-square-foot temple stands on 52 acres. The temple, the Church’s 16th in operation, was announced in 1968 and was dedicated six years later by President Spencer W. Kimball.
“This is a great occasion for us to open the doors of the temple for our friends, members of the Washington, D.C., community, people and partners of all faiths and backgrounds to come and join us and to experience the beauty and peace that is the temple of the Lord,” said Aaron Sherinian, director of media for the temple open house committee.
With the temple as a backdrop for the press conference, media and other guests viewed an updated scale model of the temple, including the recently completed renovations. The local temple committee also released updated renderings of the edifice.
“This is a community gift,” said Kisha Wilson, area director of Church Communication, Northern Virginia. ”And so, we want everyone to participate in the open house, to have the opportunity to feel a special or close connection to God and to feel His love.”
While working for the National Security Agency in 1974, Maryland Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith attended the original Washington D.C. Temple open house. He returned to the temple grounds Tuesday for the press conference to show his support for the temple and Latter-day Saint efforts in the community. Praising the Church’s humanitarian responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the organization distributed thousands of pounds of food “to people that really needed it.”
Wobensmith called his 1974 tour of the temple uplifting. He is looking forward to seeing the “spectacular facility” again in the spring.
He presented the temple committee with a citation signed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. Issued in recognition of the renovated temple, the framed citation honors the “exceptional opportunity for people from around the world to view this beautiful and sacred landmark.”
The original public open house of the Washington D.C. Temple was attended by 758,328 guests, including Betty Ford, wife of then U.S. president Gerald Ford.
Open house ticket information is available at dctemple.org.
“A disease kept us apart,” Sherinian said. “The promise of the temple joins us together.”