First Presidency announces changes to temple endowment ceremony, citing ‘a desire to enhance the temple learning experience’

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced changes to the sacred temple endowment ceremony today, acknowledging “a concern for all and a desire to enhance the temple learning experience.”

The changes come as the Church resumes the performance of all living ordinances in 12 temples just four months after leaders closed all temples worldwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The sacred teachings, promises and ceremonies of the temple are of ancient origin, and point God’s children to Him as they make further covenants and learn more about His plan, including the role of the Savior, Jesus Christ,” wrote President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, in a statement released July 20

“Through inspiration, the methods of instruction in the temple experience have changed many times, even in recent history, to help members better understand and live what they learn in the temple,” they wrote. “Part of the temple experience includes the making of sacred covenants, or promises, to God. Most people are familiar with symbolic actions that accompany the making of religious covenants (such as prayer, immersion of an individual at baptism, or holding hands during a marriage ceremony). Similar simple, symbolic actions accompany the making of temple covenants.

“With a concern for all and a desire to enhance the temple learning experience, recent changes have been authorized to the temple endowment ceremony. Given the sacredness of the temple ceremonies, we ask our members and friends not to engage in speculation or public discussions about these changes. Rather, we invite Church members to continue to look forward to the day when they may return and fully participate in sacred temple work prayerfully and gratefully.”

Latest temple updates: See which 12 temples are moving into Phase 2 reopening for all living ordinances

Since May, Church leaders have been rolling out “a carefully coordinated, cautious, and phased reopening of temples.” This began on May 11 with the performance of living husband-and-wife sealing ordinances in select temples for previously endowed members.

The Church’s phased reopening of temples includes four phases as outlined in a First Presidency letter released on May 7.  

Today’s announcement means 12 temples will move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 — which includes individuals receiving living child-to-parent sealings and own-endowment ordinances. The ordinances will be performed Monday through Saturday by appointment for those in the temple district. The Church will have a very limited number of patrons and staff in the temple at any given time.

Temple workers in the following temples will begin performing all living ordinances on Monday, July 27:

  • Billings Montana Temple
  • Bismarck North Dakota Temple
  • Columbus Ohio Temple
  • Copenhagen Denmark Temple
  • Frankfurt Germany Temple
  • Freiberg Germany Temple
  • Helsinki Finland Temple
  • Seoul Korea Temple
  • Stockholm Sweden Temple
  • Taipei Taiwan Temple
  • The Hague Netherlands Temple
  • Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple

Three additional temples were added today to the list of operating temples currently in Phase 1, with workers performing living sealings only for previously endowed members:

  • Columbia River Washington Temple
  • Guayaquil Ecuador Temple
  • Preston England Temple

Including the 12 temples in Phase 2 and 113 temples in Phase 1, 125 of the Church’s 168 temples worldwide will be open or scheduled to be open for limited operations as of July 27.

As changing restrictions and local conditions allow, the Church’s Temple Department will authorize additional temple opportunities, including the participation in proxy ordinances, which are part of Phase 3.

The Church’s phased reopening of temples includes:

  • Phase 1: Open for restricted living sealings only. Temple workers will perform living sealings only for previously endowed members under strict guidelines and safety precautions.
  • Phase 2: Open for all living ordinances only. Temple workers will perform all temple ordinances for living individuals, but will maintain closure of patron housing, clothing, and cafeteria operations.
  • Phase 3: Open for all ordinances with restrictions. Temple workers will continue providing ordinances for living individuals and provide proxy ordinances for ancestors in a restricted manner. The Church will open patron housing, clothing, and cafeteria operations as needed.
  • Phase 4: Open for full operations. The Church will resume regular temple operations.

“We ask for your continued faith and prayers that this pandemic and its lingering effects may pass. We look forward to the day that we can resume full operation of our temples, congregations, and missionary service,” wrote the First Presidency in the May 7 statement.