Calling every temple ‘a symbol of Jesus Christ,’ President Nelson rededicates the Washington D.C. Temple

Traveling for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, President Nelson said that it is wonderful to be among the people again

KENSINGTON, Maryland — Walking the grounds of the renovated Washington D.C. Temple, President Russell M. Nelson looked to the iconic edifice and spoke of the “magnificence of the work done” to beautify and renew the sacred site.

“We are very grateful,” he said. “This temple will stand now for another generation or two.”

The leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rededicated the temple today as a place where all who enter will “feel of Thy presence and to know of Thy love.”

He praised the “magnificent work” of the craftsmen, engineers and architects and — amid unseasonably mild temperatures — expressed gratitude for the beautiful day.

 “Let it be known who is in charge,” he said. Weather in Washington, D.C., “is not always like this.”

Attendees line up during the Washington D.C. Temple rededication in Kensington, Maryland, on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Address: 9900 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington, Maryland 20895-3199 

Temple announced: Nov. 15, 1968 

Groundbreaking: Dec. 7, 1968 

Dedication: Nov. 19–22, 1974 

Renovation construction start: March 5, 2018 

Public open house began: Thursday, April 28, 2022 

Rededication: Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022 

Property size: 52 acres 

Building size: 156,558 square feet 

Building height: 288 feet, including the statue of the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni

The temple — the first such Latter-day Saint sacred edifice built in the eastern United States — was closed in 2018 to renovate mechanical and electrical systems and refresh finishes and furnishings.

The nearly 160,000-square-foot temple sits on 52 acres and serves 123,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania; Virginia; West Virginia; and Maryland. It is located 10 miles north of the United States Capitol.

The iconic temple was announced in 1968 and was dedicated by President Spencer W. Kimball six years later.

At the invitation of President Kimball, then-Dr. Nelson attended the 1974 dedication. When one of the senior leaders got sick, President Nelson spent the morning with him, returning just in time to participate in a later session.

President Nelson said he will never forget the feeling in the temple.

“The temple is more beautiful now than it ever was before, and it was stunning before. … This temple has been renewed. There is more light.”

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President Russell M. Nelson is interviewed in the visitors center after the Washington D.C. Temple rededication.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is interviewed in the visitors center after the Washington D.C. Temple rededication in Kensington, Maryland, on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Silver lining of pandemic

The dedication marks President Nelson’s first travels outside of Utah since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is wonderful to be with the people again, he said with great emphasis, “but I’ve really never left them.”

The silver lining of the pandemic — which delayed the rededication of the temple by more than one year — was learning to engage with Latter-day Saints without getting on an airplane, he said.

In recent months, President Nelson has addressed, via technology, Latter-day Saints in Venezuela and Europe as well as California, and Oklahoma. He also spoke to young adults worldwide.

While he loves being out among Latter-day Saints, President Nelson said he had to make a difficult choice. “We really wanted to protect the people,” he said. “And when the President of the Church goes anywhere, there are a lot of people who want to come hear what he has to say.”

Because of lingering COVID-19 variants, participants in the temple dedication wore masks inside the temple.

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stands with his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, during the Washington D.C. Temple rededication in Kensington, Maryland, on Sunday Aug. 14, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

President Nelson was accompanied to the rededication by his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson. In addition to the Nelsons, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency; Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Sister Amy A. Wright, first counselor in the Primary general presidency; and numerous other Church leaders participated in dedicatory sessions. Sister Kristen Oaks, Sister Mary Cook, Sister Kathy Christofferson, Sister Susan Gong and Brother James Wright also participated. 

A great blessing

The temple — as well as every temple — is a great blessing, President Nelson said.

“We are so blessed to have temples. We will have increasing numbers of temples as the Church grows. But it is not the number, and it is not the location. It is not the architecture. It is the ordinances inside,” he said. “I look upon the temple, each temple, as a symbol of Jesus Christ. He is our Mediator with the Father. And each temple stands as evidence that there is life after death.”

President Nelson shared some of this same counsel in a social media post from the visitors’ center after rededicating the temple.

President Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, said he rejoices in the rededication of this Washington D.C. Temple. “Temples of the Lord are essential to our Heavenly Father’s plan for His children,” he said. “The work of the temples is centered in Jesus Christ. All that is learned and done here depends on Him.” 

Referencing the journey of early Latter-day Saints to the Salt Lake Valley 175 years ago, President Oaks spoke of the “strengthening blessings” the pioneers received through their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple.

Attendees leave during the Washington D.C. Temple rededication in Kensington, Maryland, on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“Perhaps the building of so many temples in recent years and the resulting availability of the temple endowment to almost all faithful members throughout the world is partly to perform a similar strengthening influence for the people of our day,” he said. “The first Nauvoo Temple provided that strength to the pioneers who then overcame terrible obstacles in establishing the Church in the tops of the mountains. Surely the times ahead will call for us to remember our temple covenants and to rely on the blessings promised in our temple endowments.”

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, smiles while participating in the Washington D.C. Temple rededication in Kensington, Maryland, on Sunday Aug. 14, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

President Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, called participating in the temple rededication a “glorious experience in the house of the Lord.” Latter-day Saints can claim the blessings of the house of the Lord “each time we come into a dedicated temple to worship, to learn and to serve,” he said. “That is so because every teaching and every ordinance in such a house of God leads our hearts to love our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

A temple of God is a house of revelation, he continued. “I try to receive with faith and a humble heart every word and every impression that is given to me in a holy temple. ... In the temple we can find peace. It is the blessing the Savior promised the faithful covenant keeper even when we face trials, as we all will do.” 

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, walk at the Washington D.C. Temple in Kensington, Maryland, on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Peace in the world

Elder Cook said many of the almost 350,000 guests who participated in the temple open house — as well as the hundreds of thousands who experienced the temple virtually — felt the peace found in the temple. “They recognized that the Savior and His gospel bring peace.”

At a time when many in the world are seeking peace amid contentious times, Latter-day Saints are promised that “righteousness brings peace.”

“The reward of righteousness is peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. So even though it may feel very contentious, individuals can have personal peace in a contentious world,” he said.

Elder Cook said it was a privilege to watch President Nelson — who is both capable and humble — dedicate the temple.

Sister Wright said she will always treasure the sacred privilege of sitting up front and being able to look out at this large congregation as President Nelson “taught and testified of Jesus Christ in the Savior’s holy house and seeing the truthfulness of His words reflected in the eyes of not only men and women, but also precious ... children.”

President Nelson said each temple stands “as a step — a sacred step — to eternal life for us and our families.”

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