HALIFAX, Nova Scotia The four days of the Halifax Nova Scotia Temple open house, Nov. 3-6, were times of heightened emotion and increased interest in the Church for many of the approximately 8,000 who attended.
"The VIP tours the first day exceeded our expectations," said Janet MacLennan, multi-stake public affairs director and newly called matron of the temple. "There were between 15-35 people in each session, including the lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia, J. James Kinley and his wife, Grace, and his aide, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer Bill Kazmel, who were most impressed."
Although the media tour was not well attended, said Sister MacLennan, the largest newspaper of the Nova Scotia province published a large picture of the Angel Moroni figure atop the temple on the front page on the morning of the first day of public tours.
"The article with the picture listed the days of the open house," Sister MacLennan said, "but not the times. A secretary in the mission office said the phones were 'ringing off the hook' with people requesting more details."
Among those attending the open house was a retired physics professor from one of the local universities and his wife, a recently retired public school teacher who has been active in civic affairs. "They knew nothing about the Church prior to the tour," Sister MacLennan said.
But following an invitation from a member to attend the open house, they spent considerable time researching the Church. By the time they attended, they "asked some excellent questions," said Sister MacLennan. "They were impressed and asked to learn more.
"They were thrilled when Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy and second counselor in the North America Northeast Area presidency asked to sit with them at their table during the reception held in the stake center cultural hall following the VIP tours."
At the same table, continued Sister MacLennan, sat an elder from another church and his wife. He was versed in the derogatory literature about the Church. "He knew much about the Church beforehand," Sister MacLennan said. "You could see his demeanor soften as the time passed. He left smiling. Both couples seated at the table requested copies of the Proclamation on the Family."
An elementary school secretary living in the area watched with curiosity as the temple was built and eagerly awaited an opportunity to tour the building. Following her tour, the parents of a Primary-age child who attends her elementary school spoke with her. The secretary said, "It was such a privilege to go through your temple. I didn't want to speak with anyone; I wanted to just sit and experience the special feeling."
"The only sad thing about the open house," noted Sister MacLennan, "was that people misunderstood the information published in the media and thought they could tour the temple until the dedication Nov. 13. I wish we could have had three more days. I'm sure another 8,000 would have attended."
Two medical doctors who are members of the Church accompanied on the tour a Chinese couple that practices Chinese medicine in the area. The couple described themselves as being sensitive to sacred things, and said they felt a "great presence" in the temple and requested more information about the Church.
On another occasion, an elderly man tapped the shoulder of a member after completing a tour. "I'm so emotional I can hardly speak," he said. "God bless you and your people. Please tell your leaders that."
Still another man approached this member and told how he had been a practicing member of his church but had never felt the feelings he felt in the temple. "What is that feeling?" he then asked.