San Diego Temple: Three quarters of a million people are expected to attend open house

More than three quarters of a million people are expected to attend the open house of the new San Diego Temple, said Clyde Romney, chairman of the open house committee.

The open house will run Feb. 20-April 3. The temple will be dedicated in 23 sessions April 25-30."We're capable of handling up to 2,000 people an hour for the open house," Brother Romney explained. "Special parking arrangements have been made on adjacent property. We especially appreciate the Catholic Archdiocese of San Diego for letting us use a nearby undeveloped piece of land for a parking lot."

Continuing, Brother Romney related: "Because of the limited parking in the area, which is highly urban, we are using a ticket reservation system for tours of the temple. In the first three weeks of ticket distribution from Jan. 11-31, more than 500,000 were handed out to members and their friends."

He emphasized that available tickets for times other than weekday hours are now rare.

Visitors to the open house, the committee chairman related, will be greeted in a pavilion in the parking lot of the temple grounds, near the entrance of the temple. They'll see a four-minute introductory video about the purpose of temples.

"At that point," he added, "they'll be guided through a series of photo displays and exhibits that deal with the significance of temple worship in the lives of Latter-day Saints."

After going on tours and seeing exhibits outside the temple, Brother Romney said, "Visitors will enter the temple after putting on shoe coverings and will proceed through self-guided silent tours of the interior of the temple. We estimate that the overall tour will last about one hour. There will be two parallel tour lines plus one additional line for people with special needs, such as those who have disabilities."

Brother Romney said tour guides will be sister missionaries from the California San Diego Mission, the Mexico Tijuana Mission and Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Twelve Temple Square missionaries, he said, were sent temporarily to San Diego to orient the others on how to conduct visitors centers tours and to conduct tours themselves. Local Church members will augment the missionaries.

About 150 missionaries and local members will be on the temple grounds at all times during tour hours to serve as tour guides, health and safety attendants, ushers, greeters and shoe covering attendants.

The open house comes just after the closing of a site information center, which was in a trailer on the temple grounds by the main gate from Aug. 15 through the end of January. Brother Romney said that 30,000 people visited the temple site during that time.

Arthur Sevy, director of the site information center, added that of the 30,000, 39 percent were non-members. "The success of the center," he said, "was that members and non-members alike visited, and they were thrilled with the temple's beauty and the possibility of seeing the interior of the temple during the open house."

Brother Romney related that on Jan. 31, he attended a testimony meeting held by volunteers who worked at the site information center - most of whom are returned missionary couples. "Person after person told about how deeply visitors were touched by the site of the temple, both members and non-members.

"On one occasion, the archbishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church from Cyprus came by and spent more than an hour visiting with a tour guide about the temple and the concept of temple work. Visitors came from Russia, other European countries, Japan and from throughout the United States. Most stopped because they saw the temple adjacent to the freeway and were impressed to stop and see what the building was. The temple reaches out and envelopes people before they reach the interior."

Brother Romney said the site information center included a video and photo displays of the interior of the new temple.

Local media coverage of the temple has helped bring publicity for the Church here, explained the committee chairman. "All the local television stations have done features. The interest in the temple has led them to do feature stories on the Church. On two different occasions on television and once on public radio there were features on the LDS Church in San Diego. The reporters find the Church interesting because of the Mormon Battalion [which came to San Diego in 1847T. The Church is the second oldest Christian denomination in San Diego County." - Julie A. Dockstader

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