ESPOO, Finland — On Sept. 21, the Helsinki Finland Temple began an open house to invite the public to see the temple and introduce visitors to some of the basic teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The temple is the 10th constructed in Europe and is scheduled to be dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley on Oct. 22. A fireside and cultural event will be held on Oct. 21, the night prior to the dedication.
By Sept. 27, nearly 17,000 visitors had come to the open house to see the edifice and hear the messages relayed by numerous local member tour guides. The number of visitors was so large that local Church leaders called in extra Church volunteers to manage the flow of the crowds. The tours of between 20 to 30 visitors each were lined up on the sloping hill leading to the temple, waiting for their turn to enter the temple doors. Once they entered the temple, they seemed very pleased with what they saw and experienced.
The temple is located on a tree-covered knoll in the city of Espoo, right outside of Helsinki, and can easily be seen from one of the primary streets traversing the area. At night, the well-lighted building is an imposing granite structure, with a statue of Angel Moroni on top of the tall spire, which immediately draws the attention of all who travel the road. One local hotel worker reported that she drives the road every day on her way to work, and she "salutes the angel on top" as she drives by.
The temple will serve some 26,000 members in six countries: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Russia, countries located in two separate areas of the Church. Finland is in the Europe Central Area, the others belong to the Europe East Area.
Multiple languages that will be used in the Helsinki Finland Temple. In addition to the languages spoken in each of the assigned countries, Swedish and English will also be used to some degree in the temple.
Prior to the public open house, invitations were extended to construction workers who built the building, the news media, and by other special guests from all over Finland, but primarily from the larger Helsinki area, including Espoo.
As some 250 contractors and construction workers viewed the finished temple, many were dressed in suits and ties for men, and nice dresses or slacks for the women, to show their respect for the building on which they had worked. They brought family members, friends and associates to show them the high quality of the work they had performed.
The news briefing was attended by representatives from five national outlets. For many, this was their first exposure to the Church and temples. Members of the media appeared impressed with what they saw and felt as they listened to Europe Central Area President Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy explain the purpose of temples.
Also participating in the open house were Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy, executive director of the Temple Department; Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy, second counselor in the Europe East Area Presidency; and Bruce Olsen, managing director of the Public Affairs Department.
More than 1,200 government and political leaders, executives and religious teachers participated in the temple's tour for special guests. One local political leader said the temple was easily the most beautiful building in the whole city. Many said they were impressed by the beauty and peacefulness of the edifice.
The Finnish members of the Church are thrilled and excited to have a temple in their country. Ann-Britt Kronqvist, a native of Finland now working in Frankfurt, Germany, planned her vacation so she could be in Finland for the open house to see the temple.
"As a Finn, it is really amazing that we have a temple," Sister Kronqvist said. "This will be a wonderful thing for Finland. The Church will now be seen by many others in our country. There will be many blessings for our community and for people coming from other countries."
The Helsinki Finland Temple open house continues through Oct. 7, 2006, operating Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.