Why, for Latter-day Saints, the Washington D.C. Temple is the bedrock of the community
Local Latter-day Saints rejoice in Sunday’s rededication of the iconic Washington D.C. Temple by President Russell M. Nelson
KENSINGTON, Maryland —Meg Foulger Pratt’s youth was filled with Sunday afternoon outings to survey the construction of the Washington D.C. Temple.
Her father, Sid Foulger, worked as the general contractor of the historic temple project and regularly brought his family to the site. They watched the temple in each phase of construction — from excavation to completion.
“We have been close to this temple for a long, long time,” she said.
Pratt still remembers the day her father came home and announced that while digging the caissons — the retaining structure of the temple — the team “hit bedrock.”
“He just thought it was so significant that this temple was on bedrock,” she recalled. “They hadn’t anticipated that completely.”
In retrospect, the day was also significant for Pratt — who with her husband Brent Pratt — has always seen the temple as the bedrock of her life.
The temple, the Church’s 16th in operation and the first built in the Eastern United States, was dedicated in 1974.
In the year before the dedication, Brent Pratt joined the temple project — overseeing the work on some of the finishing stages. He would later serve in the Washington D.C. Temple presidency and, for more than three decades, worked in the construction business in the area, overseeing massive development projects.
He said while the construction of the temple was not perfect, it was as close as possible. “We strive to be perfect,” he said. “It’s not ‘perfect’ perfect. But it is as close as we can get.”
Throughout the years, the Pratts have personally experienced the “comfort, peace, knowledge and revelation” that comes with temple worship.
The temple is a light in the nation’s capital city, Brent Pratt said.
“It is a monument in a city of monuments,” Meg Pratt added.
The temple closed in 2018 to update mechanical and electrical systems, refresh finishes and furnishings, and improve the grounds. Brent Pratt, a member of the local temple rededication committee, has coordinated many of the logistics of the open house and rededication. Meg Pratt has worked with hosting.
After a four-and-a-half year renovation project and delays connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Russell M. Nelson will rededicate the Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, Aug. 14.
“We have waited for this for a long, long time,” Meg Pratt said. “This is a temple that we have loved for so many years. It thrills me to see it now, more beautiful than it’s ever been. I feel like everything has been refined and elevated.”
Since the temple’s original dedication in 1974, millions of people have seen the prominent and commanding edifice from the Capital Beltway.
Excitement for the temple’s reopening began the day the temple closed in 2018, said Jeffrey Cook, who served on the local temple committee as the Awareness Committee chair.
Cook’s parents served for more than 25 years as ordinance workers in the temple; his father was a temple sealer. He lost two of his brothers in separate automobile accidents in 1980 and 1982. “To be involved in the reopening of the temple was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the sacrifice of others to provide the temple blessings to all of Heavenly Father’s children,” he said.
In the years the temple was closed, he said it was amazing to hear from “faithful members who had similar stories as mine,” he said. “The members I have served with have been an eternal blessing to me.”
He and his wife, Heidi, retired from their work to take part in the open house. They also used the time to prepare for a full-time mission. In one week, the couple will fly to Munich, Germany, to serve in the Alpine German Speaking Mission for the next 18 months.
Kent and Kathryn Colton served as president and temple matron of the Washington D.C. Temple prior to its closing for renovations in March 2018. Since then, they have overseen the work of the temple open house and rededication committee.
First moving to Washington, D.C., in 1974 so Kent Colton could work as a White House fellow, the couple attended the original open house and dedication of the temple. They too have witnessed the temple’s bedrock impact on the area.
Washington, D.C., is a “very intense community,” with all the vital organs of national and international government, Kathryn Colton said. “Many of our patrons that come here are involved in positions that are very stressful,” she said. “And as they would come to the temple, it was their refuge, really a place to find peace amid all the turmoil of the world that they were aware of and involved in.”
They knew the temple had taken its place as a monument in the city when radio personalities began using it as a reference point in announcing the traffic, she said. “Now it is simply everyone’s temple.”
Mount Vernon Virginia Stake President Keith Davey said he has been “excited and humbled” that in anticipation of the temple’s rededication, there has been a “personal rededication” to making and keeping covenants, receiving ordinances, and temple service. Patrons take their holiness into the temple, where it is expanded and they leave to make their communities better places.
“The temple is a light on the hill, a blessing to the area,” he said. “The temple brings us closer to God, closer to mankind and develops an anchor for us all that will impact society at large — not just the members.”