For a short time, the Mormon Church’s new temple in Kansas City is open to the public
St. Joseph News-Press
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A multimillion-dollar effort to put a piece of heaven on earth has come to Kansas City in the form of the newest temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The temple will be open to the public through April 28, excluding Sundays, and has already drawn 75,000 reservations for tours. Church leaders anticipate 100,000 visitors will set foot inside the palace-like structure before its dedication May 6, after which it will be open only to members in good standing. Until then, however, outsiders have a rare opportunity to look inside a faith with somewhat of a reputation for secrecy.
Yet according to William Walker, executive director of the Church’s temple department, “It’s not a secret matter; it’s a matter of being sacred. … We believe this is God’s house, that God’s Spirit resides there.”
Although 136 other Mormon temples exist throughout the world, the Kansas City temple holds the status of being a culmination of sorts — a much-belated addition to the city that early Mormon settlers intended and even purchased a plot for, yet weren’t able to complete. Circumstances eventually led many of them to leave Missouri for Illinois, then Utah, in the 1800s.
But in the fall of 2008, the intention to build a temple to serve some 45,000 Mormons in Kansas, Missouri and portions of Oklahoma and Arkansas was reborn, with a groundbreaking following in the spring of 2010. Also constructed on the temple grounds is a chapel where Sunday services will be held and where non-Mormons are welcome at any time.
The temple, conversely, is closed on Sundays and serves not as a site for routine church services but, rather, for ordinances such as baptism and marriage — both acts believed by Mormons to unite families for eternity, provided they occur in a Mormon temple.
Elaine Bledsoe of Maryville, Mo., a public affairs representative for the Church’s St. Joseph ward, notes that before the Kansas City temple existed, any Mormon in this area wanting to take part in a temple ordinance had to travel to Omaha — the location of what was then the closest temple — or even farther.
Her two daughters, for example, were married in the Omaha temple and her son, in the temple in Washington, D.C., with receptions held later in St. Joseph.
Thus, having a temple nearby is a big plus for area Mormons — not only for the sake of convenience but also, in their minds, for easier access to the presence of God.
“This is a big deal, to have a temple in this area,” Ms. Bledsoe says. “This is as close as you can get on this earth to Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.”
With the purpose of the temple in mind, its extravagance isn’t surprising. But the building is stunning, all the same, with floors built of Champagne gold limestone from Mexico; accent stones made of Kashmir gold granite from India and Inca gold limestone from Pakistan;
a natural Anigre wood from Africa as well as white oak from the United States used throughout; and artwork that includes scenes from the life of Christ as well as a sweeping mural of the Missouri countryside by an Olathe, Kan., church member and renowned artist.
Also present throughout the temple is a color scheme of greens, golds and earth tones, as well as marble trim 18 inches wide. But what perhaps stand out most are dazzling, custom-designed chandeliers — sometimes several per room — that sparkle light from Swarovski crystals.
All Mormon temples are designed with a motif, and in the Kansas City temple this theme is the olive branch, which has been depicted in stained glass and etched by an artisan into carpets. It shows up in the frosted glass of a pair of double doors, as well, and in light fixtures, curtains, railings and gold leafing that adorns ceilings.
But for all its carefully executed artistic elements, the temple is just as much about functionality.
Every room serves a purpose: The baptistry, where a pool resting on statues of 12 oxen (representing the 12 tribes of Israel) serves as a place for baptizing deceased ancestors through the use of a proxy; the instruction rooms,
where Church members attend two-hour services that teach basic Mormon doctrine; the sealing rooms, where brides and grooms are united in marriage and where large mirrors placed on opposing walls give a fitting illusion of looking into eternity; and the celestial room,
a place for quiet reflection which, with its high ceilings and loads of natural light, is designed to represent the heavenly home God’s followers have to look forward to.
The temple also contains a number of other rooms, including administrative offices, an entryway where members present cards certifying them to proceed into the building and dressing rooms where they change into required white garments — a physical transformation meant to symbolize setting the outside world aside and pursuing purity.
All this is contained in 32,000 square feet in a building that stretches more than 150 feet skyward, a height that includes a 12-foot gilded statue of the angel Moroni topping one of the temple’s towers. And the cost of it all?
“It obviously cost more than $10 million,” Mr. Walker notes, yet declines to further specify the price in order to keep the public from focusing more on dollar signs than the intended sacred nature of the site.
A look inside the sacred place of the Latter-day Saints - Community News Story - St. Joseph