As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prepares for the public open house of the Washington D.C. Temple this month, Elder David A. Bednar and Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave Ed O’Keefe of CBS News an exclusive preview of the renovated edifice.
The interview, which also included Sister Susan Bednar and Sister Kathy Christofferson, aired on Easter on the network's "Sunday Morning" program on April 17.
Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said Latter-day Saint worship in holy temples is not secret, but sacred. “We don’t speak of [temples] casually or lightly because to us they are so central, so fundamental, and so important to how we live.”
The tour of the temple ends in the celestial room. “This is representation of our heavenly home,” said Elder Bednar. “This is a place of light, of peace.”
O’Keefe introduced the five-minute segment by speaking of the iconic temple — visible from the D.C. beltway.
“Its spires leap nearly 300 feet into the sky,” said O’Keefe. “At their pinnacle a 2-ton gold-covered angel issues a clarion call to the heavens. It’s clad in white Alabama marble, matching other monuments around the nation’s capital.
“But for decades it has posed something of a mystery to the millions of steam by on D.C.’s Beltway. Some even comparing it to the Land of Oz.”
Elder Christofferson, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said the public can now visit the temple. “I hope more and more we will see it as something much, much more than Oz,” he said.
Marking the first time the public will be able to tour the temple since its 1974 dedication, the open house will highlight the iconic temple — the first Latter-day Saint edifice built in the Eastern United States. The temple, the Church’s 16th in operation, was announced in 1968 and was dedicated six years later by President Spencer W. Kimball.
The 160,000-square-foot temple sits on 52 acres and serves 123,000 members of the Church in Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania; Virginia; West Virginia; and Maryland. It is located 10 miles north of the United States Capitol.
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. These tours resulted in over 75,000 missionary referrals.
In addition to the "Sunday Morning" program, CBS also posted a short video on YouTube, featuring Elder and Sister Bednar talking about the symbolism of the temple’s sealing room and offering marriage advice.
“If Susan and I stand here and look into these mirrors, if I look at Susan and Susan looks at me, you can see forever,” Elder Bednar said. “But if I look into the mirror just in my eyes, and Susan looks only into her eyes, all you can see is yourself. That’s all the marriage advice anybody ever needs.
“As long as I’m looking to Susan and being concerned about her comfort and well-being, things will work fine, if she’s doing the same. But if I’m self-centered and selfish, then it probably doesn’t work very well.”
After media and VIP tours this week, a public open house will take place from April 28 to June 11 and the doors of the temple “will be open wide,” concluded O’Keefe. Reservations for tours can be made here.
Read more coverage of the Washington D.C. Temple
- About the Washington D.C. Temple, plus the dedicatory prayer
- Washington D.C. Temple open house extended, rededication date rescheduled
- See photographs of the inside of the Washington D.C. Temple
- What the Church did to restore, refurbish the Washington D.C. Temple and why it matters
- Video: How temple visitors are finding stillness, peace in the nation’s capital
- Video: Elder Bednar asks, why are we surprised by today’s youth
- Elder Bednar writes about the Washington D.C. Temple, answers questions about why it exists
- Reverse Open House Series: How a temple open house inspired visits to other faiths’ sacred sites, events
- Welcoming media – traditional and social – to the Washington D.C. Temple
- What those who visit are saying at the Washington D.C. Temple