More than 90,000 people toured the new Orlando Florida Temple during a public open house Sept. 10-30, preceded by two days of tours for specially invited guests.
Visitors viewed an introductory video, walked through an exhibit, then saw the interior of the temple. An estimated 10,000 Church members volunteered their time as tour guides or in other capacities, according to Brent Holladay, dedication specialist with the temple committee. That represented about 80,000 volunteer hours, consisting of a six-hour shift and two-hour training period for each volunteer."They say we will have more than 800 missionary referrals from this event, a number with which organizers are very pleased," said Genean McKinnon, spokeswoman for the temple.
Sister McKinnon said coverage of the temple in the Orlando broadcast and print news media has been excellent.
"Daily and weekly newspapers have covered it and there was a wonderful story in Orlando magazine," she said. "A news report was done by a television station here and picked up on the video wire by three or four additional stations around the state."
An article in the Tampa Tribune, featuring an interview with Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve, was carried by a wire service and featured in a least 15 newspapers around the state "from Key West to Fort Walton Beach, literally from `tip to toe' in Florida," Sister McKinnon added.
Typical of favorable comments was a phrase used by Peggy Landers, religion writer for the Miami Herald, who called the temple "the connecting point between heaven and earth."
Sister McKinnon said the lead-in to a local television news report on the temple mentioned there is a new architectural landmark in town. The report said the temple would be "forever identified with Orlando."
For Church members the three weeks of public tours have been a high point.
"Fast and testimony meeting was held this past Sunday (Sept. 25) because of general conference next week, and everyone I spoke with in congregations across the state said their meetings went overtime," Sister McKinnon said. "People wanted to share so many wonderful things that had happened in conjunction with the open house."
One such incident, she said, was related by Jim Tew, Church public affairs director for the North America Southeast Area. He took his father-in-law, who has been blind for five years, through the temple. Having been a carpenter, the father-in-law felt the woodwork and moldings and said the workmanship was exquisite simply to touch.
Church members are not the only ones in the community to appreciate the new edifice. An article written by Matthew R. Gomez in the Sept. 23 issue of The Florida Catholic, a publication for area Catholics, quoted Bishop Norbert M. Dorsey, a Catholic leader who was among several clergy to tour the temple.
The article reads: " It is very impressive,' said Bishop Dorsey during his homily at a Sept. 12 Mass for Bishop Moore High School supporters.The structure is magnificent, and the people were very hospitable and welcoming. It is obvious the temple was built for the Lord.' "
The article further quoted Bishop Dorsey as saying he was "struck by the beauty of the building and the intensity of faith displayed by members of the Mormon faith."
The temple will be dedicated Oct. 9-11 in 11 sessions attended by Church members in Florida and southern Georgia. A traditional cornerstone ceremony will precede the first dedicatory service Oct. 9.