Top Nevada government, business, civic and religious leaders, representatives of the news media and a throng of Church members have been welcomed through the Las Vegas Nevada Temple.
The temple's public open house began Monday, Nov. 13, with an early brunch and tour for the media, and a noon luncheon and tour for more than 225 special guests. Both groups were hosted by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve and Elder H. Burke Peterson of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the North America Southwest Area.Among the special guests were Nevada Gov. Bob Miller, U.S. Senators Harry Reid (a Church member) and Richard Bryan, U.S. Representatives James Bilbray and Barbara Vucanovich, Las Vegas city councilmen and Clark County commissioners, and a host of business and civic leaders.
"The leaders were very pleased to understand more of the reasons for temples," said Elder Ballard. "It was a very positive experience for members and a very positive experience for non-members."
He said the representatives of the media were impressed by the building, and asked insightful questions.
"I think that when the temple is dedicated, we will see continued and steady progress and growth in that area," he said.
During the luncheon, an adult choir performed, and, part way through, was joined by children singing Primary songs. Later, young men and young women singers came in. The choir concluded a medley with the favorite, "I Am a Child of God."
"There was hardly a dry eye in the room when they finished," said one observer.
A buffet breakfast was held for neighbors of the temple, who were personally invited. Nearly 100 percent of them attended the Nov. 14 event. They appreciated the Church's hospitality and enjoyed the special temple tour, according to guides.
Members of the clergy were hosted at a luncheon later that day. "You should have seen the lights in peoples' eyes," said Elder Melvin Wilcox, public communications missionary in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission.
"After it was over, one man commented to me, `We've really built some bridges today.' "
The luncheons were held in a temporary building erected at the temple site. The building was later converted into a display room where visitors, before taking the tour, were introduced to the Church and the purpose of temples.
On Sunday evening, Nov. 12, before the temple open house began, Church members were invited to a tour as a "dry run" to see if the guides were prepared for large crowds, said Judy Olsen, writer for the Church's Southern Nevada Public Communications Council.
"We expected maybe three or four thousand," she said. "But by the time it was over, we had 8,000 people tour between 5 and 9 p.m.
"The temple is truly one of the most beautiful buildings you will find anywhere. You are just thrilled by the softness of the curves and the beautiful colors. And the celestial room is breathtaking."
"Soft" and "elegant" are two words visitors often use in describing the temple. Visitors who toured the temple agreed that the architects and interior design experts, along with local architects and artisans, have succeeded in their quest for excellence.
Colors of dusty rose, rusts and natural sand tones taken from the Southwest's desert earth have been gently blended and combined with a "progression of light" to create a stunning, unique decor.
One interior designer who worked on the temple said the design helps put the individual in a proper frame of mind for worship, "as far as color and line and material can contribute to a spiritual nature.
"We have tried to use not only the depth of colors, but the light and dark values, and the intensity of light and its warmth," he said. "We have used a little brass, silver, polished marble, and soft fabric. All of this creates a wonderfully human interior that becomes restful, serene, and peaceful."
The sense of elegance culminates in the celestial room where changing sunlight casts constantly new coloration. Soft, indirect lighting at night creates another elegance.
The celestial room is designed with a soft curve, and almost has a cloud effect, lifting the eye upward," said one observer.
Upward are two large chandeliers, each 8 feet in diameter and 10 feet high, with thousands of pieces of cut crystal in each. Narrow windows at the sides of the celestial room contain a transparent cut star. During the daytime, the stars' prism points catch the sun's rays and project miniature rainbows on the celestial room walls.
Despite the elegant decor, the overwhelming impression to visitors is a spiritual one, say temple volunteers.
Upon entering the celestial room, one member visitor commented, "I burst into tears when I walked into the celestial room; I couldn't keep back the emotion."